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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Caltiki the Immortal Monster aka "Caltiki - il mostro immortale" [Blu-ray]

 

(Riccardo Freda (as Robert Hamton), Mario Bava, 1959)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Climax Pictures

Video: Arrow Video

 

Disc:

Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:16:25.622 

Disc Size: 48,394,160,802 bytes

Feature Size: 24,101,551,680 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: April, 2017

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.66:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio Italian 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentaries:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English, none

 

Extras:

• Full Aperture Version (1.36:1, 17 Gig, 25.85 Mbps, Italian PCM, Eng. subs, 1:16:25.622)

New audio commentary by Tim Lucas, author of Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark
New audio commentary by Troy Howarth, author of The Haunted World of Mario Bava and So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films
From Quatermass to Caltiki, a new discussion with author and critic Kim Newman on the influence of classic monster movies on Caltiki (18:13)
Riccardo Freda, Forgotten Master, an archival interview with critic Stefano Della Casa (19:05)
The Genesis of Caltiki, an archival interview with filmmaker Luigi Cozzi (21:33)
Archival introduction to the film by Stefano Della Casa (0:21)
Alternate opening titles for the US version (2:24)

US Trailer - 2:07
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys

Second disc DVD

Caltiki Photocomic - as PDF in root

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Arrow Video presents a collaboration between two giants of Italian cult cinema Riccardo Freda (Murder Obsession, The Horrible Dr Hichcock) and Mario Bava (5 Dolls for an August Moon, Blood and Black Lace)!

A team of archaeologists led by Dr John Fielding (John Merivale, A Night To Remember) descends on the ruins of an ancient Mayan city to investigate the mysterious disappearance of its inhabitants. However, the luckless explorers get more than they bargained for when their investigation of a sacrificial pool awakens the monster that dwells beneath its waters the fearsome and malevolent god Caltiki.

Though Riccardo Freda received sole directing credit, a significant portion of the film was in fact the work of Mario Bava, who also served as its cinematographer and was responsible its striking special effects. Drawing on a diverse array of influences, from The Quatermass Experiment to the works of HP Lovecraft, Caltiki the Immortal Monster is a unique and unforgettable sci-fi chiller which showcases these two legendary filmmakers at their most inventive. Presented here for the first time in a newly restored high definition transfer, Caltiki shines and terrifies! like never before.

 

1) Original Italian Title - TOP

2) 'Full Aperture' Title - SECOND

3) US Title- THIRD

4) US Trailer Title BOTTOM

 

 

The Film:

Two members of an expedition into the ruins of the ancient Mayan city of Tikal go into a hidden groto -- only one, Nieto (Arturo Dominici), returns, raving about the ancient Mayan goddess Caltiki. The expedition leader, Dr. John Fielding (John Merivale), follows their trail and finds the missing man's camera in the ruins of an ancient Mayan temple, along with high radiation readings -- the film shows the two men suddenly threatened by something out of the camera shot. A diver (Daniele Vargas) goes into the one unexplored part of the temple, the sacred lake within, and finds its floor littered with human remains and ancient treasure -- on a second dive, he is attacked by something that burns most of the flesh from his body. Suddenly, a huge shapeless, writhing mass rises from the lake, nearly killing Max Gunther (Gerard Herter), whose hand is caught by the creature. Fielding hacks off the fragment holding Max and destroys the main body of the monster by incinerating it. The scientific community is astonished by the fragments of the creature retrieved from Gunther's arm, which is revealed to be a single-celled animal at least 20 million years old; additionally, the fragments, though seemingly inert, are still radioactive and dangerous to the touch, and they react to the presence of atomic radiation by growing at an alarming pace. Gunther gradually loses his sanity as the tissues in his body deteriorate, and he goes on a murderous rampage that takes him to Fielding's home. Meanwhile, the doctor establishes a link between the legends surrounding Caltiki, the Mayans' abandonment of Tikal in the year 607, and a comet that passed the Earth that same year. He learns almost too late that the same comet is making a return visit, putting all of humankind in danger from Caltiki.

Excerpt from B+N located HERE

 

Riccardo Freda, working under the pseudonym Robert Hampton, directed this 1959 black-and-white Italian SF feature in a Mexican setting (filmed in Spain) about a radioactive glob discovered in a subterranean pool near Mayan ruins. Mario Bava (also under a pseudonym) shot the film; the stars include John Merivale, Dioi Perego, and Giacomo Rossi-Stuart.

Excerpt from Jonathan Rosenbaum located HERE

 

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

 

This is the another Arrow Blu-ray release that is being simultaneously released in both region 'A' (US) and 'B' (UK). It is the exact same package on both sides of the pond to the best of our knowledge.

 

NOTE: As Michael Brooke informed us on Facebook in regards to Day of Anger: 'As the producer of Arrow's release, I can confirm first hand that the UK and US discs are absolutely identical: we only paid for one master, so there's no doubt about this at all! Which means that no matter which package you buy, the discs will play in any Region A or B setup (or Region 1 or 2 for DVD - and in the latter case the video standard is NTSC, to maximise compatibility). The booklets are also identical, but there are minor cosmetic differences on the disc labels and sleeve to do with differing copyright info and barcodes, and the US release doesn't have BBFC logos.' Caltiki is the same situation.

 

Caltiki gets an impressive transfer to Blu-ray from Arrow.  It is dual-layered with a max'ed out bitrate for the 1 1/4 hour feature. Contrast is at a very high level establishing some pleasing detail and occasional depth in the 1.66:1 aspect ratio frame.  It's very clean with a few light surface scratches but the overall visuals are surprising in their strength and tightness. This Blu-ray also includes the 'full aperture' version (described in the extras below) in a less robust, but still watchable, 1080P transfer. In the film, the creature is, conveniently, hidden, or obscured, from many scenes and the higher resolution doesn't expose the limitations of the effects budget, in my opinion.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

1) Original - TOP

2) 'Full Aperture' Title - BOTTOM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Audio is transferred via faithful linear PCM mono tracks at 1152 kbps in, both, the original Italian and an English DUB option. The original audio elements for the English version of Caltiki are lost. As a result, the English track used for this package was assembled from numerous sources of varying quality. It is recommended that you watch the film in Italian for the optimal viewing experience. It's significantly better than the poor DUB and awkwardness of the piecemeal English option. There are plenty of aggressive effects - from screams to gunfire, tanks and more. The score by Roberto Nicolosi (Black Sabbath, Black Sunday, The Girl Who Knew Too Much) and Roman Vlad (Beauty of the Devil, The Horrible Dr Hichcock, Jules Dassin's The Law) supports the film reasonably well in the uncompressed. There are optional English subtitles for both Italian and English audio versions. My Oppo has identified the Blu-ray as being a region 'A' + 'B' (essentially FREE.)

 

 

Extras :

Caltiki the Immortal Monster was designed to be exhibited in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and is presented in this form on the default viewing on this Arrow Blu-ray. Arrow tell us that an after an examination of the elements, revealed that, while a significant of film had been shot with an in-camera hard matte, much of it - including most of the effects shots created by the film's uncredited second director, Mario Bava - was, in fact, shot with no in-camera matte present. An open matte presentation therefore exposes more of Bava's remarkable effects work. After consulting with Tim Lucas, Arrow made the decision to also provide this alternative, full aperture viewing option, which presents the film as directly captured from the 35mm dupe negative and provides both an expanded view of the film's effects and a fascinating insight into its 'mixed parentage'. Arrow add some incredible value to this package with two audio commentaries. The first is by Tim Lucas, author of Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark and he's in top form exporting educational comments about related aspects of the film. There is also another new audio commentary by Troy Howarth, author of The Haunted World of Mario Bava and So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films and he, too, adds keen data on the production. From Quatermass to Caltiki, is a new 18-minute discussion with author and critic Kim Newman on the influence of classic monster movies on Caltiki. Riccardo Freda, Forgotten Master, is a 20-minute archival interview with critic Stefano Della Casa, The Genesis of Caltiki, is a 21-minute archival interview with filmmaker Luigi Cozzi plus there is an older introduction to the film by Della Casa. We also get the alternate opening title for the US version and a US trailer . The package has a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys, a second disc DVD and there is a 'Caltiki Photocomic' - as PDF in root of the Blu-ray disc.

 

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I loved Caltiki! An amorphous blob of a creature that resembles a large slug. The Arrow Blu-ray provides an excellent a/v presentation with fabulous extras including two great commentaries! I suggest this is one of the 'lost' 50's creature-features that will satisfy devout Bava-aficionados. I can't wait to watch this a fourth time - our highest recommendation! 

Gary Tooze

April 27th, 2017

 

 




 

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