Caligula (Unrated Version) 1979
Reviewer’s Tilt (8)
Special DVD Features worth a look-None
Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus, Caligula (little baby boots) to his friends, ruled most of the free world from 37-41 A.D. After orchestrating the death of the evil syphilitic Emperor Tiberius, the soulless and psychopathic Emperor Caligula wrought torture and death on his people and even his own family members. Caligula’s reign is the least documented and, as a result, Caligula’s legacy is left one of unabashedly libidinous orgies and an insatiable sexual appetite. While pleasures of the flesh leading a man to ruin is a tried and true Hollywood formula, this film posts Caligula as a soulless perversion of nature from the first incestuous scenes. Wishing the protagonist dead from the opening scenes does not bode well for any movie.
But wait, it gets worse. Producer and Penthouse mogul Bob Guccione acts as the film’s black hole, successfully sucking every last drop of talent from such stars as Peter O’Toole (Tiberius), Malcom McDowell (Caligula), Helen Mirren (Caesonia) and Sir John Gielgud (Nerva). Guccione dropped a reported $15-20 Million on the project, but you would not be able to tell it from either the sets or the cinematography, each of which are equally appalling. If that were not enough, Guccione, thinking the final product lacked the requisite girl-on-girl action, went back and added some of his own “artistic” flourishes.
As a result, Director Tinto “Il Maestro” Brass and screenwriter Gore Vidal demanded their names be removed from the project. What remains is a wretched collection of otherwise fine actors, unsuccessfully plodding through this pile of filth, trying to maintain some shred of dignity. The film is almost so bad as to be good. Almost. While a touch of camp could have turned this picture into riotous fun, the uncomfortable seriousness of the actors, and the gratuitous lasciviousness of the subject matter, combine to make this film anything but funny. The film is very bad, but at least it is long. I know there are those of you who will still rent the DVD, thinking the erotica factor will outweigh the annoyance factor. Trust me, it does not. You will simply be left lamenting those nearly three hours of your lives you will never reclaim.
Format: Color, Widescreen Anamorphic, Closed captioned.
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
Extras: Production Notes