Netflixed: Caligula


Shipped on 01/09/08.

Malcolm McDowell portrays the infamous emperor who wielded godlike power over ancient Rome while at the same time sleeping with his sister (Teresa Ann Savoy). Helen Mirren, Peter O'Toole and John Gielgud co-star in this film produced by Penthouse Magazine editor Bob Guccione and written by Gore Vidal. Warning: This unrated edition contains explicit sex, nudity and violence as well as disturbing imagery. [From Netflixed: Caligula]
Yikes. Easily the worst movie I've seen in years. Not even good porn, unless you like late 70's Penthouse Magazine lesbian porn, or scenes of group (male) masturbation. I couldn't make myself watch the whole thing, apparently there was even more over-the-top action to follow.

My two word review: cocaine-inspired megalomania. Apparently, Bob Guccione locked everyone except for sycophants out of the editing room, and cut and pasted footage so it is even more confusing. Gore Vidal sued to get the title changed from "Gore Vidal's Caligula" to "Caligula", though his name is still on the credits. Even as straight-out camp fun, this film wasn't fun.

Roger Ebert's review is classic:
"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. [snip]

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.
"This movie," said the lady in front of me at the drinking fountain, "is the worst piece of shit I have ever seen."


Oh, wow. And yet somehow people who adore good films eventually find their way to Caligula. It's a rite of passage. You must face the worst to truly appreciate the best.

God. Hellen Mirren was in this, and O'Toole, and Gielgud.

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This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on January 14, 2008 1:13 PM.

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