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Caligula (The Unrated Edition) (1980)

A movie with no director

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Humorless hardcore? Why not? Someone had to make sex boring, and it looks like Guccione was the man

  • Mar 30, 2011
If anything could give a bad name to Caligula -- a boyish emperor whose only sins were to love his sisters too well, to have too ironic a sense of humor, to exercise justice too emphatically and to have too optimistic a view of his future -- it would be this sodden pile of oozing lasagna. I, Claudius it ain't.
The cast consists of Malcolm McDowell as Caligula, Peter O'Toole as Tiberius, John Gielgud as Nerva, Helen Mirren as Caesonia and the flopping bits and pieces of a lot of naked Italian extras. It is stunning and amusing to see the likes of Gielgud and Mirren recite their lines with serious intent and then watch a quick cut-away to hardcore fellatio at a Bob Guccione version of an orgy. It has to be said: The orgies are the most boring part of this movie. Guccione cuts in hardcore sex with all the timing of a metronome. Extras do so much genital fingering I'm surprised they didn't come down with carpel tunnel syndrome.
Peter O'Toole, as a seriously degenerate Tiberius, has been known to give ripe and awful performances in his career. Here, he outdoes himself. It's not that the man is shameless, it's that he appears embarrassingly to be trying to give a performance. Malcolm McDowell is the only one who seems to be amused at the awful role he agreed to play for what, I hope, was a lot of money. McDowell is a fascinating, sly, humorous and serious actor. Even when he's humping around enjoying both the bride and the groom at a wedding party, or doing a lascivious dance to please O'Toole, or ordering his legions to attack the papyrus, or playing the sneering host at a long, long orgy (with all those close-up cut-aways), I still like him. He carries what acting weight there is in this arena of rancid Penthouse rejects. Guccione, the editor and publisher of Penthouse who produced Caligula (and directed the hardcore parts), seems to have no more a creative erotic imagination here than he had in his magazine.
The movie is so humorless, so hypocritical and so cheesy it not only will put you off Caligula, it probably will put you off genitals.
Humorless hardcore? Why not? Someone had to make sex boring, and it looks like Guccione was the man

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July 05, 2011
In-deed. I can add only this: everyone's nethers herein are bone-dry. Amidst the recitals of great thespians and one overcooked ham, you'll view nary a moist shot. Ick.
March 30, 2011
Honestly, it has been MANY years since I saw this one last....I don't think I'll re-watch it in the foreseeable future. Nice review.
March 30, 2011
Sounds like a pass. Great review!
More Caligula (1980) reviews
review by . March 11, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
The worst crime of this movie is not all the depravation, waste of money or the fact that it is a porn film; the worst part is that it is soooo boring. I found time to fold my laundry, clear my e-mail and read the reviews on this movie. There are some good scenes here and there, some emotional as well (when Drusilla dies)...everything else is blah. What a waste of money this was. It fails as a porn film, as a historical film and as a film.
review by . March 03, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
Some describe CALIGULIA as "the" most controversial film of its era. While this is debatable, it is certainly one of the most embarrassing: virtually every big name associated with the film made an effort to distance themselves from it. Author Gore Vidal actually sued (with mixed results) to have his name removed from the film, and when the stars saw the film their reactions varied from loudly voiced disgust to strategic silence. What they wanted, of course, was for it to go away.    Viewers …
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C. O. DeRiemer ()
Since I retired in 1995 I have tried to hone skills in muttering to myself, writing and napping. At 75, I live in one of those places where one moves from independent living to hospice. I expect to begin … more
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About this movie


Remember the dumbstruck, jaw-dropped expressions on "Springtime for Hitler's" shocked opening-night audience in Mel Brooks's original film ofThe Producers? That will no doubt be your face through much of the two-and-a-half-hour running time of this infamous 1979 pornographic epic that was a (Penthouse) pet project of publisher Bob Guccione. That's not necessarily a bad thing. But don't take our word for it. Listen to Helen Mirren--yes, the Oscar-winningQueenherself--who stars as Caesonia, Caligula's third wife and "the most promiscuous woman in Rome" (and in this film's salacious vision of Pagan Rome, that is saying something). In her very gracious, thoughtful and candid audio commentary that alone is worth the price of this set, she remarks, "I think it's a movie that is unlike any other, which is difficult to achieve." And for those of a more prurient bent, she adds, "It has an awful lot of bottoms." Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange) gives a brave and fearless performance as Caligula, the hated and feared emperor corrupted by absolute power and no doubt voted Most Likely to Be Assassinated. The film unflinchingly charts his plummet into madness and the brutality of his reign in scenes of hardcore sex and violence that cannot be described here ("I can't watch," Mirren cries to her interviewers over one scene in which unfortunate characters are beheaded by a blade-spinning combine. "I ...
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DVD Release Date: October 2, 2007
Runtime: 156 minutes
Studio: Analysis Film Releasing Corporation
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