Plot: Professor John Fielding (John Merivale) is heading up an archaeological expedition in Mexico, seeking clues to why the Mayan culture vanished in a rush. The Mayans left behind viable structures and entire villages, so Fielding is convinced the mystery needs to be solved, for history’s sake. The search for answers leads the group to a cave and inside, they discover a large, underground lake. Of course, the plan is to explore the lake and as such, a diver is sent into the depths to see what hides within. The dive yields some interesting results, as the bottom of the lake happens to be littered with gold, jewels, and human skeletons. But something else also lurks in the waters, a strange blob-like menace who attaches itself to the diver, melting off his skin in the process. Another man, Max (Gerard Herter) is able to escape with his life, but he is injured in the process and seems like he has changed. What was this hideous creature discovered in the depths and can it be contained before it is unleashed on the world?
Entertainment Value: Caltiki, the Immortal Monster is going to draw in viewers thanks to the involvement of genre legend Mario Bava. He is uncredited as such, but accepted to have been the director of the movie, or at least a good portion of it. In any case, you can see his fingerprints all over Caltiki and for fans of Bava, this is one you’ll want to have in your collection. The film feels a lot like other monster movies of the time, with wooden performances and a silly narrative, but Caltiki also stands out from the crowd. I think the visuals are what make this rise above the typical b movie standards, both in visual design and the special effects. This just has a more kinetic, stylish presence when you compare it to other monster movies, which works wonders. And those special effects help as well, creating the Mayan locale and Caltiki’s gruesome impact on those who encounter it. The pace is still slow at times and as I said, the performances are rather dull, but there’s more positive than negative here. Fans of b movies, monster movies, and of course Bava will want to give Caltiki a spin.
No nakedness. There isn’t much blood either, but we do get some nice effects that are quite fun, especially for the era. The victims of Caltiki have their skin melted off and that is achieved here in fine form, with some nice skin peeling and melting scenes. A shot toward the end shows us an entire person engulfed in Caltiki, which involves a very creepy, effective transformation from human head to just a skull. That was the stand out scene, but all of the skin melt work looks good here. I’m also adding an extra point for other effects, which aren’t blood related, but still fun. The dialogue is passable, but the wooden performances add some unintentional humor. Even so, not much grabbed me as overly fun or quotable, just basic monster movie stuff. I have to give Caltiki some crazy points, as the creature work is fun to watch and the special effects are hokey, but so entertaining. I loved the miniature effects, despite being obviously fake they were so fun and a real positive for the movie. So a little more crazy and lot more than your standard 50s b movie monster experience.
Overall Insanity: 3/10