"Caligula" is sickening, utterly worthless, shameful trash. If it is not the worst film I have ever seen, that makes it all the more shameful: People with talent allowed themselves to participate in this travesty. Disgusted and unspeakably depressed, I walked out of the film after two hours of its 170-minute length. That was on Saturday night, as a line of hundreds of people stretched down Lincoln Ave., waiting to pay $7.50 apiece to become eyewitnesses to shame.
I wanted to tell them ... what did I want to tell them? What I'm telling you now. That this film is not only garbage on an artistic level, but that it is also garbage on the crude and base level where it no doubt hopes to find its audience. "Caligula" is not good art, It is not good cinema, and it is not good porn.
I've never had anything against eroticism in movies. There are X-rated films I've enjoyed, from the sensuous fantasies of "Emmanuelle" to the pop-comic absurdities of Russ Meyer. I assume that the crowds lining up for admission to the Davis Theater were hoping for some sort of erotic experience; I doubt that they were spending $15 a couple for a lesson on the ancient history of Rome.
All I can say is that the makers of "Caligula" have long since lost touch with any possible common erotic denominator, and that they suggest by the contents of this film that they are jaded, perverse and cruel human beings. In the two hours of this film that I saw, there were no scenes of joy, natural pleasure, or good sensual cheer. There was, instead , a nauseating excursion into base and sad fantasies.
You have heard that this is a violent film. But who could have suspected how violent, and to what vile purpose, it really is? In this film, there are scenes depicting a man whose urinary tract is closed, and who has gallons of wine poured down his throat. His bursting stomach is punctured with a sword. There is a scene in which a man is emasculated, and his genitals thrown to dogs, who eagerly eat them on the screen. There are scenes of decapitation, evisceration, rape, bestiality, sadomasochism, necrophilia.
These scenes -- indeed, the movie itself -- reflect a curiously distanced sensibility. Nobody in this film really seems to be there. Not the famous actors like Malcolm McDowell and (very briefly) Peter O'Toole and John Gielgud, whose scenes have been augmented by additional porn shot later with other people and inserted to spice things up. Not the director (who removed his credit from the film). Not the writer (what in the world can it mean that this movie is "Adapted from an Original Screenplay by Gore Vidal"?) Not even the sound track. The actors never quite seem to be speaking their own words, which were so badly dubbed in later that the dialogue never seems to be emerging from the drama itself.
The film even fails to involve itself in the action. "Caligula" has been photographed and directed with such clumsiness and inelegance that pieces of action do not seem to flow together, the plot is incomprehensible, the events are frequently framed as if the camera was not sure where it was, and everything is shot in muddy, ugly, underlit dungeon tones. The music Is also execrable.
So what are we left with? A movie, I am afraid, that may be invulnerable to a review like this one. There are no doubt people who believe that if this movie is as bad as I say it is, it must be worth seeing. People who simply cannot believe any film could be this vile. Some of those people were walking out of the Davis before I did Saturday night; others were sitting, depressed, in the lobby. That should not, I suppose, be surprising.
The human being is a most curious animal. often ready to indulge himself in his base Inclinations, but frequently reluctant to trust his better Instincts. Surely people know, going in, that "Caligula" is worthless. Surely they know there are other movies in town that are infinitely better. Yet here they are at "Caligula." It is very sad.
My friendly recommendation is that they see "The Great Santini," to freshen their minds and learn to laugh and care again in a movie. People learn fast. "This movie," said the lady in front of me at the drinking fountain, "is the worst piece of shit I have ever seen."
Does this version have the BloJob scene in it?
if so, it should be rated X... amazon shouldnt carry it....
i mean, she does after all take a load in her mouth as well...
David Blosser says:
I'm almost sure this will be unrated, so it doesn't matter that Amazon carries it.
Walter Five says:
Gee, Mr. Jenkins, you're crass and uptight.
Richard Johnson says:
Why the hell would you want to buy this piece of crap WITHOUT the unedited orgy scene? If you're into historical accuracy go watch frikken I Claudius. The only reason I want to get it is to see more of what went on with regard to the Penthouse chicks on that brothel boat!
Dennis Mabrey says:
Somehow Caligula has always been "unrated". I saw this movie years ago at my friend's house because his parents did not realize its "content".
I gotta admit I am surprised Amazon carries it as well.
Aural Exciter says:
It sure does contain the BJ scene - actually it contains more than one - but if you just can't wait when it lands in your post box - go straight to chapter 18 on disc one and watch the Penthouse Pet quench her thirst.
As for Amazon why the hell shouldn't they supply it - Freedom to view goes hand in hand with freedom to purchase by consenting Adults surely. After all this movie has had enough publicity and gossip since it was made nearly 30 years ago.
By the way - the transfer to DVD on this edition is Fabulicious
bernard underwood says:
YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! disk one
The principal cast members agreed to do voice re-recording sessions only if Bob Guccione's inserts would be left out of the final cut. He obliged, and the actors worked with a cut of the film that was free of the six minute re-shoots. However, once they were done, Guccione proceeded to add the inserts back into the film.
Director Tinto Brass disowned the film because Guccione locked him out of the editing room (some in the industry suspect it was because Brass didn't want to use Guccione's hardcore inserts) after assembling the first 40 minutes (which was probably disassembled shortly afterward). Guccione then proceeded to edit the film himself, but he often chose shots that were never meant to be included (the many zooms, out-of-focus shots, etc.), and also cut up certain scenes and put them in the wrong order. A prime example of this is Caligula's nightmare scene with Drusilla, which now occurs in a part of the film that would have been quite impossible dramatically, and is actually the first half of an earlier scene, which occurs just after the credits (together, the two scenes were meant to be the opening of the film, and the current opening in which Caligula and Drusilla enjoy a romp through a forest was intended for an entirely different purpose altogether, and was meant to occur much later).