At Home, BluRay/DVD Reviews


By • Jul 5th, 2017 •

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BluRay review by Roy Frumkes

Originally under-acknowledged for his contribution, Mario Bava had a hand in everything concerning the film, so you know Tim Lucas was going to be all over this release. And sure enough, there he is with a highly detailed commentary track, and incidentally he’s gotten better and better as an audio track commentator.

The virtues of CALTIKI require some excavation work, which the Arrow release does for you. Like digging up comparisons to Nigel Kneale’s brilliant Quatermass films, the non-Kneale Quatermass-like X THE UNKNOWN, and the mythological dreams of H.P. Lovecraft. The subtext is so rich and rewarding – buttressed by the two informative commentary tracks that lead us in the right directions – that what we have is one of those pumped up releases whose superior supplementals justify owning the disc, whereas the film by itself wouldn’t be worth more than an engaging look.

Two archeologists in search of Mayan gold unleash a guardian demon, a ‘sample’ of which gets transported back home. Serious mistake. Two horror threads begin to interweave, and by the third act you’re liable to be gripping the arms of your chair. The monster is absurd yet terrific (looking like a bunch of dish rags that escaped from the washing machine), and there is some genuine suspense.

I saw pretty much all the horror flicks of the 50s that came through NYC. If CALTIKI played and I missed it, I recall over the years seeing it pop up on video, etc., and not being motivated to catch up with it because of its silly title. I pictured a monster not unlike the idiotic marionette in THE GIANT CLAW. When this release appeared, chock full of extras, I finally broke down, and was pleasantly surprised at what I found. Bava’s B&W cinematography is slick and professional. The leading men are less insipid than what usually pass for protagonists in the early Italian horror gothics. And seeing Daniela Rocca with her large, voluptuous face, was a treat I hadn’t enjoyed since DIVORCE ITALIAN STYLE (she passed away in 1995, aged 57). Some of Bava’s effects work, lighting, staging and blocking recalls his later work, such as BLACK SUNDAY.

The cover art is a little too dark and busy, though there is a more fulsome reversible cover. The pamphlet inside is nicely punctuated with pictures, and contains three good essays.

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