Caltiki, The Immortal Monster

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No skyscrapers were harmed in the making of this film

CALTIKI, THE IMMORTAL MONSTER—–there was an episode of The Outer Limits (circa 1964) where some alien thing commanded an Earthling to approach, saying about the guy’s brain, “I wish to absorb it.”  Absorb?  What the hell kind of mid-galaxy creep would do such a thing? Possibly my Cleaver-coddled imagination had been tweaked by viewing this 1959 Italian import (Caltiki, il Mostro Immortale ) which had a blobby mass of gelatinous goop living in a Mexican cave, stripping the flesh off cast members: the image of actor Gerard Herter (for years I thought it was Henry Hull) being absorbed down to a grimacing skull stayed with me as an emblem of Pure Yuck until Spiro Agnew came along.

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Hold still, I’m gonna chop your arm off

Dismissed at the time as a chintzy imitation of 1958s The Blob, it slithered into the US in ’60 and then slimed its way onto TV.  Cherished and extolled by some who fell for its messy spell, it is now getting overdue good press lauding the impressive visual styling of cinematographer Mario Bava, who was given director’s reins (uncredited) by mentor Riccardo Freda.  Bava also helped design Caltiki, using hundreds of pounds of…tripe (uh, cow guts).

The nasty-tempered goddess of Mayan times is aroused by radiation from a comet (every 850 years, to the epidermal detriment of our archaeologists). Bad dubbing of terrible dialogue doesn’t help, and the tinker-toy tanks at the finale are pretty sorry. Apparently our excess NATO hardware all went to Franco in Spain instead of Italy. Of course, this is also supposed to be Mexico, and the idea of giving assault vehicles to Mexico should really be tabled, all things considered. Wolverines!

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The best reviewer of our day, Glenn Erickson, gives an enthusiastic hooray for the Blu-Ray release at “CineSavant” and his older review of the DVD is a kick to read for his childhood reminiscence.  He, too, was deeply affected by Caltiki’s loathsome vengeance.

With John Merivale, Didi Pergo, Daniela Roca, Giacomo Ross-Stuart. Gail Pearl does the wild “Death Dance of the Voodoo Virgin!” Her scanty costuming, akimbo gyrations and the word ‘virgin’ don’t really line up. 76 minutes.

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What’s Mayan for virgin?

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