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Movie-A-Day #24: Caligula (1979).

January 24, 2011

Oh, Caligula. He’s become the poster child of Roman excess, having reportedly had sex with three of his sisters (and pimping them out as well), condemned whole sections of the crowd thrown to the lions in the arena because he was bored, tried to make his horse a senator, and declared himself a god. The historical accuracy of some of these claims is suspect, but they sure do make good stories to tell. Regardless of the truth, he was a bad enough emperor to be the subject of several assassination attempts. A group of his personal guards finally succeeded in killing him on this date in 41 A.D. Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione and writer Gore Vidal brought all this no-holds-barred perversity to the screen in “Caligula.” With plenty of explicit sex and violence, the film ran into all sorts of censorship problems, although the full version is now available on DVD. Today’s the day to finally check out the insanity first hand.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 24, 2011 8:50 am

    My recollection — and I have no idea what version I saw, or if I even saw that in its entirety — is that, beyond the notoriety, the novelty, and the graphic sex, the movie doesn’t really have a whole lot going for it. Which is to say, it’s a bizarre, often x-rated spectacle but not a very good movie. It’s the sort of movie you need to see to believe — but that, unfortunately, means you have to see it.

    I quite liked Zack Handlen’s recent “I Watched This on Purpose” writeup of the movie.

  2. January 24, 2011 8:57 am

    Yeah, the movie pretty much existed solely as an exercise in trying to wed “porn chic” to serious mainstream Hollywood fare. Because, hey, it was the ’70s. What else were you going to do?

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