If only all of Rome had just one neck: Review of Caligula (1979)
Now here’s the thing about my taste in film. I like fucked up movies about fucked up people doing some fucked up shit. When I saw The Notebook, all 4 friends who were with me burst into tears. I was confused becuase I thought two people staying together their whole lives without anything fucking it, up then dying in each other’s arms was a happy ending. And I just re-watched Casablanca so don’t get me started on that. The dialogue is so cheesy and the whole thing is just really overdone and melodramatic. Now Titanic, that was a movie that knew how to tug at your heartstrings. I’ll never let go, Leo.
So anyways, seeing as how I like fucked up movies and as well as Malcolm Mcdowell & ancient Roman history, I decided to give the film Caligula a try. I knew it was *raunchy* but I had no idea just I was in for. In retrospect, it should have tipped me off that it went through the hands of three different directors and was produced by Penthouse Pictures. But Malcolm was just so dreamy in A Clockwork Orange that I couldn’t resist.
The films opens by showing Caligula’s sensative side, as he enjoys a romp in the forest and a quickie with his sister Drusilla. Sadly, their relationship is the most touching/normal in the entire movie, so that’s saying something. Next Caligula is told he must visit his dying grandfather Tiberius, played by Peter O’Toole. Tiberius is so old, busted, and slutty that HIS FACE IS ROTTING, probably due to advanced syphillis. So now we know that it IS possible to live a normal life, even if part of your body is starting to decay. Cool.
So yeah, he dies obv. Well technically, he’s smothered to death, but you get the idea. Then Caligula becomes Caesar and shit really starts to go down. At first you feel kinda sorry for him because no one really takes him seriously and it’s clear he has absolutely no idea what he’s doing. And is name means ‘little boots’ which is just embarrassing. But he quickly gets into the groove of being Caesar and executes pretty much everyone: his trusted friend, his counsin, a soldier for being “too noble.” Dude is crazy. One of the most noteable (ie incredibly disturbing) scenes in my opinion is one where Caligula decide orders the soldier to death because has not become corrupted and therefore is “not Roman.” He has his guards stab him, then two horny bitches start rubbing his blood all over themselves. Then they pee on him, cut off his dick and feed it to the dogs. Yeah, it’s that kind of movie.
Helen Mirren, you one fiiiine…actress.
If you think that’s wacky, wait til you get to the orgy scene. Since good ol Little Boots is a terrible ruler who I’m pretty can’t read, the Roman government is in debt. Caligula comes up with the brilliant idea to whore the wives of all the senators in Rome in an imperial brothel. A lot of the footage from that scene, and others, was added in later, much to the dismay of the lead actors who had a reputation to upload. This scene gets REALY graphic but thankfully there’s no killing to give it that snuff film vibe. There IS a close-up cumshot. And this movie was seen by people in independent theaters across the country when it was released. Including my parents, which may be the most disturbing thing about this whole experience.
On the whole, I feel that watching this film was 2 and half hours well spent. It might have been insanely gruesome and perverted, but as least I can genuinely say I’ve never seen anything like. Hollywood could never name a movie like this today, and that makes me sad. Maybe because I’m a little bit kinky or maybe because I believe in artistic expression, and that movies are supposed to be more than just images on a screen, they’re supposed to be a sensory experience. But the real reason is Malcolm’s stunning blue eyes…he can do the old in-out with me anytime.