Caltiki is one of my favorite black and white monster films, and I’m happy to say that it works just as well in 2010 as it does in 1959. While it is not the most unique monster film you’ll ever see, given that we have 51 years of cinema between here and there, it has interesting characters, a groovy monster given life by MARIE FOAM (Mario Bava never had a better name, not even John Old beats this), outdated cultural bits about the proper behavior of men and women and a psycho performance from Gerard Herter as the chomped and evilly altered Max.
Quickly put, Caltiki is an ancient god monster that is discovered by a team of archeolgists by accident. Of course, there are signs that things are going to go sour here. We have love quadrangles that include some really screwed up interpersonal politics, jealousy, jutting bosoms and square jaws and even better, a dopey member of the crew spies on a superb bit of native dancing. All that nets our spy, who is warned that it is bad mojo to do so, is being derezzed by Caltiki in a rather shocking manner! After scummy and lusting Max gets attacked by Caltiki our hero John (John Merivale) does the sensible thing. Bring the blob to his house (with his wife and child) and try to see if Gamma Rays do anything to it. In a Pre-Hulk world, I guess nobody would know what can happen! Max goes nuts! Stalking! Blobbish Devouring!! More Jutting Bosoms!!
Directed by Ricardo Freda and with cinematography and effects (and some direction) by Mario Bava, this is an outstandingly presented chiller that manages to mix the subtle and spooky with the sudsy burbling blobboid frolics. The underwater sequence that leads to the “skeleton in the suit” reveal still gets me sucked in faster than you can say Mexican Monster Devours Max (see image below) and I’m in awe of how much comic book frame perfection there is in some shots. I’d love to see this adapted by Neil Vokes in inkwash someday, there are even a few Bobby T haircuts to use! It’s been said before, and I’ll say it once more. CALTIKI is a rockin’ blob that will delight any monster fan. Get it. Love it!