Caligula (1979) Tinto Brass/Bob Guccione
Production Budget: $22 million
This review is going to be much shorter than the one I originally reviewed (that got erased on the forum switch) because A. I’m lazy and not putting all that work into it again and B. I’m not re-re-reviewing a movie to get all my original material back.
Okay, so originally Gore Vidal had a historical drama of Caligula he wished would be produced into a tv miniseries but he couldn’t get funding for. So he went to the founder of Penthouse Bob Guccione (whom he wrote articles for) and pitched the idea. Guccione thought it was a great idea but wanted to make it into a real spectacle and feature nudity to promote his magazine.
Big acting talent from Malcolm McDowell, Helen Mirren, and Peter O’Toole were brought in for the film. Newcomer director Tinto Brass was hired for his work on Salon Kitty which mixed sexuality with WWII drama. Brass and Vidal did not get along at all. Vidal called Brass a megalomaniac and Brass called Vidal’s scripts stuffy. The war of words finally got Vidal kicked off the set. Guccione fired Brass after most of the photography was done for running up the costs and for filming disturbing sexual images. Guccione shot some footage with his penthouse models and put them in the movie. Both Vidal and Brass filed lawsuits after and received settlements. The movie bombed at the box office, but like Showgirls came to be a major seller on DVD (the biggest seller for Penthouse).
Is it any good? The movie is terrible, but that’s kind of the selling point. This is a pure exploitation flick and it throws everything in and the kitchen sink. You have bestiality, incest, orgies, sodomy, a giant lawnmower that chops people’s heads off, and of course overacting. God, the overacting! Malcolm McDowell did not waste any time in his career to be a scene chewing overactor of the highest caliber. My special boobie prize goes to Peter O’Toole for playing the dirtiest old man short of his role on Venus. Something about seeing respected Brit actors playing filthy sex pervs that make me giggle. I’m still waiting for Sir Ian McKellan to star in some raunchy sex comedy as a matter of fact.
That being said, the Unrated version (which I own) is way too long. Campy exploitation flicks can only be funny for so long and at nearly three hours it wears out its welcome. Maybe it would do better to get a shorter version like the R version which is only two hours. Now I can’t really recommend those because I haven’t seen them so I don’t know how butchered they are. I’ve only seen the Unrated version.
Do I really recommend it? I don’t know. It really depends on your taste. If you are any average movie goer than I would say avoid. If you are a bad movie aficionado then by all means. This movie is chock full of f*cked up sh*t that would make just about anyone raise an eyebrow in a curious “WTF” glance. It is pure over the top exploitative cheese, so enjoy.