Our Rating: ★★½☆☆
L Factor: Minor lesbian content
Short Take: Portrays the events, cruelty, decadence and madness of Rome’s most infamous Caesar, Gaius Germanicus Caligula, including the orgies.
Alternate Titles: Caligola
Year: 1979
Duration: 137 min
Language: Italy, USA/English
MPAA: R
Director: Tinto Brass, Bob Guccione
Writer: Gore Vidal
Starring: Malcolm McDowell, Teresa Ann Savoy, Guido Mannari, John Gielgud, Peter O’Toole, Giancarlo Badessi, Bruno Brive, Adriana Asti, Leopoldo Trieste, Paolo Bonacelli, John Steiner, Mirella D’Angelo, Helen Mirren, Rick Parets, Paula Mitchell

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Caligula

I’ve seen this film called a ‘marriage of legitimate film and smut.’ It is supposed to be very historically accurate, portraying the events, cruelty, decadence and madness of Rome’s most infamous Caesar, Gaius Germanicus Caligula. There are impressive actors here with Malcolm McDowell, Peter O’Toole, John Gielgud and Helen Mirren, but after the core of the film was shot with them, explicit sex scenes were inserted later by film financier Bob Guccione, publisher of Penthouse.

Writer Gore Vidal had his name taken off the credits, and the actors all distanced themselves from the final product. Said McDowell, ‘I mean, it was absurd, because the footage didn’t even match much of the time. There would be a shot of me smiling, looking at what was supposed to be my horse or something, and then suddenly they’d cut to two lesbians making out.’

I’ve never seen so many naked men and women. Incest, necrophilia, rape, orgies, sperm baths, men with men, women with women, and of course men with women, are graphically portrayed, in addition to the violence, torture and brutality of Caligula’s reign. Quite a few bits of shocking footage! Specifically when the Priestesses of Isis meet, there is lesbian orgy.

You can find the film in an R rated version and an unrated version. The streaming movie on Amazon and the streaming and dvd versions on Netflix are both R rated. You must purchase an unrated dvd to get that version. (AB)