Caltiki, the Immortal Monster / Caltiki - il mostro immortale (1959)

3.0 out of 5

A bunch of scientists discover the reason for the mass exodus of an ancient Mayan city when they run into a billion-year-old blob monster with a nasty habit of devouring human flesh. Bringing a severed piece of it back to civilisation for testing, they find that it grows at an alarming rate when exposed to gamma radiation – which is supplied in abundance when a comet passes close to Earth.

A rare Italian foray into 50s monster movie territory, Caltiki plays like a cross between The Blob and The Quatermass Xperiment. It's certainly a tad more frightening than the former, with the aftermaths of the creature's flesh-munching being pretty gruesome even by today's standards and the creature's climactic siege on hero John Merivale's family home, his wife and child inside while he races to the rescue, is a fairly tense business.

Despite a few dull stretches and some pretty lousy acting and dialogue, Riccardo Freda's monster movie stands up well next to most American B-movies of the period. Bava is often said to have completed the film à la I vampiri but there is disagreement as to the extent of this; whatever the case, the maestro supplies some fine matte work and cinematography here.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics