The 1950s was a boomtime for science fiction and horror cinemas. In the aftermath of the Second World War and in the nuclear shadow, there was a new generation with an appetite for escapism. Films such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Creature from the Black Lagoon and The Thing from Another Planet packed out movie theatres. However, it was The Blob and The Quatermass Xperminet which provided the main influences for Riccardo Freda’s Caltiki: The Immortal Monster.
A group of archaeologists are in Mesoamerica investigating Mayan ruins when a delirious expedition member (Arturo Dominici) stumbles into their camp and collapses. Led by Dr John Fielding (John Merivale) and Max Gunther (Gérard Herter), they enter a cave in search of his missing colleague. Imagine their delight on discovering a deep pool of water containing priceless treasures, guarded by a statue of the Mayan goddess Caltiki. They can’t believe their luck until a shapeless monster emerges from the depths.
Co-directed with Mario Bava (who is uncredited), Caltiki: The Immortal Monster is a strange mix of good and bad. Some of the effects, particularly the blob itself, are highly impressive for the time. There are some beautifully created scenes and shots, specifically around the malignant Max Gunther. However, the ‘miniatures’ sequences look shambolically amateurish and the acting is often overly melodramatic. Caltiki: The Immortal Monster is a fun ‘50s horror which is constrained by its small budget but not its imagination.
Caltiki: The Immortal Monster is released on Blu-ray and DVD by Arrow Video ON Monday 10 April.