Caltiki — The Immortal Monster (1960)
HOW TO FIND OUT IF YOU'RE BECOMING A BLOB
I recently gave myself this test without realizing it. I'm shopping for running shoes. I'm not sure why — I haven’t run for anything since my elementary school bus. Now in my early 40s, even if was on fire, I couldn’t manage more than a plodding, Dad-like jog.
Anyway, I try on the first pair. They don’t fit. It’s a busy Saturday afternoon so all those little foot stools are occupied. I sit down on the floor and take the shoes off while people walk around me in an aisle that's about as wide as a heating duct.
So I stand up, put the first pair back, find a second pair, sit down on the floor to try them on – don’t fit. As I sit down to try on the third pair I realize that I’m winded. I’M WINDED TRYING ON RUNNING SHOES! How pathetic is that? I go in to try on a pair of shoes and end up sprawled out like a hot air balloon after it's landed.
I decided it was time to get my cholesterol checked. This decision that I made entirely on my own sounds remarkably like my wife saying a week earlier, “I made an appointment for you to get your cholesterol checked.” (But we could quibble over who decided what, but really...what's the point?)
Anyone who’s read my reviews may recall my love for eating anything that’s…what’s the word… "crap." When my results came back, it turned out my cholesterol wasn’t that bad but my Triglycerides or trans fats (commonly found in baked goods) were a little high. It seems that a good “score” would be about 150. Mine tested at …drumroll…533! If that number was the equivalent of how much radiation Caltiki absorbed, we'd all be in his belly by now.
The movie Caltiki tells the story of the ancient Mayans who mastered such things as the calendar and mathematics and built a great civilization in Mexico. Suddenly, they abandoned the city they worked so hard to build. Though nobody knows the truth behind the mysterious migration, one authority above all others, (the 50s b-movie narrator with the voice of God) concludes it could only have been a blob monster.
The movie begins with a mysterious man (who we’ll come to know later as Nieto) wields a pistol and runs from an unknown danger past explosions from a smoke-puffing model volcano. Fire erupts all around him. Suddenly, he sees a snake! Terrified, he runs in the opposite direction. Dude – run AROUND the snake, not back towards the lava! Irregardless, the snake must have really motivated him because in the next shot, he’s MILES away from the Volcano! We see the volcano in the distance and he steps into frame in the foreground! Wow, this guy can book!
Nieto is a member of an archeological dig in Mexico to find Mayan treasure. He finally makes it back to camp and collapses from exhaustion. His companions are Dr. John and Ellen Fielding and Max’s gorgeous Mexican girlfriend, Linda. While Nieto sleeps in the tent he mumbles, “Caltiki…Caltiki…THE MUMMY!” John explains that he left camp with a fellow archaeologist, Ulmer, but he didn't return with him. While Nieto is left in the care of Ellen and Linda, John leads a search team for the missing Ulmer. After searching a short while, someone says, “Where can he possibly be? We've already searched everywhere!” Everywhere? Your in ancient Mayan ruins filled with pymramids and underground passageways! It'll take a little longer than 10 minutes!
In one of the caves, they discover a crack in a wall revealing steps leading down into a vast underground area complete with a large pool of water and a statue of the goddess Caltiki. The Geiger counter they brought with them crackles with radioactivity! (Alright! Now we've got ourselves a movie!) What's more remarkable, is how much light there is underground! They find the missing archaeologist's movie camera on the shore, but what they don't see is the now-mummified remains of Ulmer hidden in the rocks! "THE MUMMY!" John and crew return the next day with scuba gear.
Back at camp, Nieto battles a high fever. And while they don't have the necessary supplies to help him battle the fever, they have brought along all the developing equipment to process the film he shot AND convert a tent into a little screening room! ("Hey, shouldn't we bring some medicine for this trip?" Reply: "Can't. I've used up the remaining truck space with a Super 8 projector and a crate of Jiffy Pop!) The movie shows little more than the two archaeologists under attack at the water's edge.
Meanwhile, this trip is putting some marital stress on honeymooners Dr. John and his wife Ellen. Max (who's a bit of a slimeball) decides to make a move on Ellen and her big, blonde hair. Unfortunately, Max's best come-on lines are met with hilariously, unflattering results. But soon, Ellen and John make up. Maybe it's because Ellen realizes that the "other fish in the sea" includes Max. Or maybe it's because the male script writer of this movie has Ellen admitting she's “been a silly, little girl.”
Max's ultra-hot girlfriend, Linda (who watched his failed attempt to seduce Ellen) drops by to rub it in his two-timing face. Meanwhile near another part of camp, some locals are conducting a ceremony where an attractive female dancer shakes her groove thang to appease the evil spirits. (The spirits must be male because at one point a guy rips off her skirt. Y'know...for the spirits.)
The next morning, John and the boys are back in the cavern on the shore of an underground lake. One of them dons a wetsuit and dives down into the murky depths to look for the missing archaelogist. However, not so far down that there isn't adequate lighting! (I think this guy stumbled upon a Sea World aquarium!) He discovers that the bottom is littered with a couple of skeletons and a little jewelry. He rips a gold necklace off of a skeleton and heads for the surface. Afterwards, he says, “There's a vast treasure down there!” (There is? A VAST fortune?!) “Thousands of people are down there!" (Really? I saw two.) Forgetting all about his missing archaeological friend, he goes down for more gold. Suddenly, he's terrified by something! His friends pull him up out of the water. When they remove his snorkel and mask it's revealed that his face is now a skull, meaning whatever ate his face had the courtesy to put his goggles back on! (That was thoughtful.)
with the eyeballs still in place! But they don't have time to mourn because, from out of the depths rises...a creature that seems to be made of gold lame. That's pronounced "la MAY", not "LAME," although that would be a better description of this monster. The blob reaches out and grabs Max by the arm, (Max's own natural sliminess offering no protection). Through a bit of irony, it's John who saves his life by cutting off the creature's appendage with an ax.
After exiting the cave, Mexican doctors get Max to safety while John battles the blob (which has somehow quickly climbed all those steps). John notices a gasoline truck parked nearby. (The tip-off was a sign in the ground that reads, “GASOLINE TRUCK.”) He drives full speed at the creature and moments later a different-looking model truck strikes the blob and blows up in a cloud of magician's flash paper!
Later in a Mexico City hospital, Max is having a procedure to remove the blob from his arm. It's a complicated procedure that involves peeling it off! (Couldn't they have done that at the camp?) In a truly gruesome (awesome) seen, the surgeon reveals Max's arm has been eaten away to the bone!
Meanwhile in the lab, doctors determine the creature is basically composed of a single cell like an amoeba. When one professor asks how old the organism is, the other leads him to a room with a massive computer complete with little light bulbs and spacey “weeoo, weeoo” sounds. He says the machine took 20 years to develop and can determine the age of anything. They watch the needle climb – 8...9...10...” One doctor says, “It's gone all the way up to 15!” The guy says, “It's 20 million years old!” (How can number 15 equal 20?) But the best part is, the numbers on the indicator only go up to 17. So, with the aid of this age-determining computer, doctors determine that the subject matter is 20 millions years old (on a dial that only goes to 17).
Then we see classic B-movie style newspaper headlines! (View widescreen version C9: 27.16) “Antediluvis!” (I wish I'd taken Spanish in high school instead of two years of French! Then I could read these headlines! What was wrong with me?! Did I think millions of French Canadians would migrate to the U.S.? Imbecile!!!) But I understand enough of the headline to know that John is hosting a “Cientifica Conferencia.” John begins the Conferencia rather blasé saying the newspapers have exaggerated the creature. Then he concludes by saying “You can believe what you like, but the immortal god, Caltiki, has been reborn!
Later, John and Ellen visit Max at the hospital. Max's hot tamale girlfriend, Linda, waits outside the room. Ellen can see she's upset and invites her to stay with her and John at their house! Alright, John! (CLICK HERE)
While Ellen and Linda discuss skimpy lingerie and pillow fights (I'm just assuming), John visits Max in his hospital room. Maybe it's because his arm is gone and his face is half eaten away, but Max is kind of a sourpuss! Max asks how the other archeologist is doing (y'know...the dead guy.) John tries to paint a rosy picture, but he can't fool that which is nastiness incarnate – Max. “We were mad to go into that cave and now we'll all pay! All of us! All of us!!!” The day gets better and better for Max as he overhears the doctor say it's only a matter of time before the poison in his blood stream reaches the brain (Shouldn't the poison have killed him by now? Is it one of those 72-hour poisons?)
John and Ellen share a large house complete with laboratory. John works feverishly to find a cure for Max and, more importantly, pad this movie. I wish Ellen would tell him that Max came onto her in the jungle. It would save us all a lot of time.
Suddenly, John has an epiphany – he remembers they found radioactivity in the cave! THAT'S IT?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? IT TOOK YOU ALL THIS TIME TO REMEMBER??? So anyone back at the cave could have said to John, "Y'know, it could be the RADIATION that created the monster!" The mystery could have been solved before they even packed up their tents!
Within moments, John arranges to have a Beta Tron delivered to the institute...THAT NIGHT! And you should see how BIG it is! But, in just a few hours, it's up and purring like a kitten (I guess you just have to plug it in?) After studying the blob sample, John delivers the clunky line: “The first thing I think about this, is...” Whoa! What? Is this a movie script or a third grade homework assignment?" But he continues, “...as soon as that reaches a point...” Huh? What reaches WHAT point? The screenwriter probably thought, "Who cares. This is the part of the movie when kids will leave their seats and get popcorn anyway."
From a special effects standpoint, the Beta Tron's a bit of a letdown as it releases "real" invisible rays and not sci-fi rays like in Alligator People. Once exposed to the rays, the blob comes to humorous life as if it were a rubber puppet with a hand inside of it making it stretch and convulse. John concludes the blob cannot only increase in size but also divide into multiple blobs. What? When did we miss that!? I think John's just making stuff up!
Later we see Linda (lookly lovlier than ever) visiting that cesspool Max in the hospital. He says, “You're so good to a poor sick man,” then threatens to kill her. He's afraid John and the doctors are letting him die so they don't have to give him his share of the gold they found. (Hey, that's a great idea! And it couldn't happen to a nicer guy!) Normally, I'm not in favor of capital punishment, but we'd all sleep safer in our beds tonight if Linda split his skull with a steel bedpan.
Later that night, Max eventually finds his way to John's house on foot (between running around volcanoes and crossing Mexico City, this guy must be an iron man!) Inside the house, John receives a phone call that the creature is growing and has destroyed the Beta Tron.
John and Ellen jump in their 15,000 pound car and head for the lab. Max takes the opportunity to break into John's house and disconnect the phone line. John explains that in 1607 A.D., a comet passed near the Earth. The Mayans considered the comet evil, due to its tendency to shoot through the sky, glowing and bringing maneating blobs to life. Therefore, it was the blob that caused the migration. Although I wouldn't call it a migration so much as an “A giant blob! Let's get the F out of here!!!”) Jump to present day, the comet is due to pass the earth again and will undoubtedly “augment the radioactive atmosphere.” But when the professors learn this and try to contact John to destroy the blob fragments (or BLAGMENTS), there's no answer because Max has cut the phone wires.
I found this next part to be the most unexpected death scene: The professor is on his way to John's house. He's driving along when ... nah, I want it to be a surprise - check out the video clip!
Back at John's house, their daughter wakes up screaming saying there's a bad man in the house. Where my blood would have instantly turned to ice, it doesn't seem to phase Ellen in the slightest. A few minutes later, Ellen discovers Linda carrying a giant tray filled with sandwiches. You know...the kind of thing a hungry, wanted man might crave after crossing the city on foot. But Ellen was never the kind to put two and two together. But Linda has a reasonable explanation, “I get a little hungry at night.”
Finally, word is reached to John about the passing comet. He tells the lab to summon the police and the army to his house, adding that they should bring flamethrowers because only flames can kill the giant blob (How would you like to be the one who gets to make THAT phone call?)
Meanwhile, back at John's lab, the creature (in a very cool blob scene) begins to grow. He shatters his glass aquarium then subdivides into two separate blob creatures.
Ellen puts on some neglegee and investigates — only to run into Max! He chases her back into the bedroom and puts some of his famous moves on her! Linda tries to intervene but if she didn't get the hint before that Max doesn't really care about her, she gets it now when Max fills her full of lead. While this is going on, the blob is in the lab subdividing like crazy! One of the blobs is so big, it knocks over a model refrigerator!
In another awesome scene, Max hears the comotion in the lab and, thinking it's John, yells, “Come out! Are you afraid? Come out!” and it does! Caltiki scoops up Max like the pile of poop that he is. We see Max's head getting sucked down in the blob only to emerge a few seconds later...AS A SKULL!!! AWESOME!!!
A blob the size of a sofa squirms it's way up the stairs towards Ellen. She runs into the child's room just as the blob breaks down the door! Ellen, carrying her child, climbs out the window and onto the edge of the house. (OK, this is fine. As long as the blobs remain in the house, they can burn it down later. Oops! Spoke too soon.) A blob has just climbed out the ground floor window! (OK, not so bad. At least there's only one to...uh oh) a second blob has just escaped the house! (There's a great scene where the camera is up with Ellen and we look down at the waiting blobs below!) In the living room, the remaining blobs are sub-dividing like crazy and breaking miniature furniture!
Meanwhile, John runs a police checkpoint. He's being chased by motorcycles. OK, that shouldn't be too much of a problem. After all, he's in a whale of a car and they're driving...Ooops! Spoke too soon! The next scene shows John being hauled into police headquarters. Man, they caught him fast! Despite his most sincere rantings of “There are giant blobs in my house that'll take over the world if you don't let me go,” call them crazy, but they just don't buy it.
Still on the ledge, Ellen makes her way to another window and re-enters the house while hungry blobs wait below. Meanwhile, John escapes from jail. I won't go through the details. Let's just say never underestimate a scientist's uppercut! He drives off with Mexican police in tow. Then there's an all points bulletin that the Mexican army will be arriving! The army is ordered to engage and destroy "the menace that threatens the world" (and no we're not talking about reality TV.)
John makes it to the house. Ellen and child are at a window screaming for help. He can't get to the house because there's a blob at every turn! The police arrive! Their gunfire cannot hurt them but it distracts them as John sneaks in through the back. Maybe 2 seconds later, the entire Mexican army arrives putting paramedics arrival time to shame! Within another 30 seconds, the house is surrounded by guys with flamethrowers! (These guys should be hired by FEMA!) John bravely runs to the house. Ellen and child are at the second story window screaming for help. But how will John get to them? If only there was a ladder laying on the ground. But the odds of that are... Hey! What luck!
The army intensifies their flamethrowers on the entire house. Things look to be going along great until, a GIANT blob appears from behind the trees – “It's ENORMOUS!” one soldier says, and he's right! It dwarves the trees below it! It's a blob on a Godzilla scale! The troops fall back and a (toy) flame-throwing tank battalion arrives, breaking through (toy) walls! Cool! Soon the giant blob is awashed in flames.
When there's nothing left of Caltiki but shish-ka-blobs, the commander on the walkie talkie tells command “It's over. We just have to clean up a bit.” A BIT??? You've burned down a mansion and several giant blobs — one the size of a barn! I would think that might take a while. In the final scene, John says, “Caltiki is destroyed forever.” Or until that comet comes around again.