October 08, 2004

Caligula The Movie: How could a film written by Gore Vidal , starring Malcolm McDowell, Peter O'Toole and Sir John Gielgud, have degenerated into a universally reviled steaming pile of dreck frequently cited as one of the worst movies ever to hit the screen?

The full story behind this slow-motion-hard-core-porno-trainwreck is an epic of producer/director/writer backstabbing, locked editing rooms, new depths of poor judgement and lawsuit after lawsuit. Read about it here. All links SFW. I had the misfortune of seeing this when I was 17 and can attest that waves of nausea hit me after only 20 minutes.

  • To each his own, I guess. I for one went right out and bought one of those unicycle ass slapping machines.
  • I actually own this movie, but I've yet to watch it. I'm not even sure I've taken the wrapping off, and it's been way more than a year since I bought. I think I'll have to dig it up and watch it now. I'll wait till then, before I click on any of the links, I wouldn't want to ruin the experience of watching it. heh I myself frequently site the Doom Generation as one of the worst movies ever. And I don't mean in a good way, like when I site Meet the Feebles as one of the worst movies ever. (Feebles link SFW, but may not be if you click to much inside there)
  • Don't you knock Caligula! It got me a job when I needed one (it drew such crowds the theater needed extra people). It may be a steaming pile of dreck, but it's my steaming pile of dreck. (I used to be able to recite stretches of dialogue from memory, but mercifully those memories have faded...)
  • It's certainly no Cannes winner but I have to say Caligula wasn't all that bad... a movie about Caligula has to be dreary, with an air of decay and stench. I think it added to the whole experience. It really didn't come across as much of a porn film to me. I think the fact that it's largely Italian-made (i.e. the coarse, cheesy feel) has made me go easy on it too.
  • My knowledge of this movie is based entirely on the claim that Prince's "Gett Off" video was based on the movie.
  • Which version did you see rpm? There's at least two cuts, one of which is R rated and the other is X.
  • It was the X rated version. We lived in Oklahoma (briefly) at the time and had to rent it out-of-state as the local places only had the R-cut.
  • Ah well, I guess it's not as universally reviled as I thought. Still, the story behind it is fascinating, and if you haven't clicked on that last link I definitely recommend that you do so.
  • I can testify! Not only did my dad rent this way back when for the whole family, including mom, me, my two younger brothers, to watch, he got the x-rated version. This lovely little accident happened because, during the stocking of the movie, someone apparently thought that this movie didn't belong in the 'back room'. Probably because it had Malcolm McDowell in it (obviously they weren't familiar with his work), O'Toole and Gielgud. So, yeah, after dinner we all sat around the tv and got comfy. Words defy the description of the next 20 minutes before my mom called a halt to the whole intensely uncomfortable episode. She, of course, was outraged that my dad would bring something like this into the house. He, of course, was trying to find any way he could to get pseudo-porn into the house, and we kids were forever scarred by the whole thing. Of course, once I was older, I was able to tell my friends I had actually seen Caligula. Yeah, they were impressed. Ah, memories.
  • This movie contains the worst wedding "gifts" ever.
  • The obdurate stupidity and primitive gullibility of moviegoers slavering to see Malcolm MacDowell's peen has long since ceased to astound me. And I'm like, totally smarter than you. Good day.
  • I didn't think it was all that bad. Then again, I watch Plan 9 From Outer Space about twice year, so take my critique with a daily recommended dose of salt.
  • The behind-the-scenes story is indeed fascinating (even to somebody like me who has never seen, and never plans to see, the movie). Thanks for posting it, Nickdanger. The most amazing fact is that before the editing process was finished, producer Bob Guccione (who had zero experience in film) kicked everybody off the project who knew what they were doing. The result is that (according to this article) the film is full of shots that were never intended to be in the movie--things like random zooms where the cameraman was adjusting his focus, or shots where the action hadn't yet begun. Yikes.
  • Slightly off topic, but worth mentioning nonetheless is the mini series "I Claudius" which ran here in the states on PBS. It is still one of my favorite television programs of all time. Caligula's (little boots) life was more of a chapter or two in the "I Claudius" mini series, but was still a chilling telling of this tale. Highly reccomended.
  • Absolutely agree, squidranch.
  • Yes, squid! Very, highly recommended!
  • I Claudius rules! Rent it if you haven't! It's on DVD and Netflix carries it.
  • I Claudius is one of the most riveting series ever made. A favorite of mine, too.
  • Me Claudius was a great remake, highly recommended.
  • EAAWAHWAA! Spoilers! Dammit! Dude, If you guys had waited 6 or 12 more hours before giving it away, I'd have been caught totally of gaurd watching this tonite, probably with company over. Yes, Nickdanger did call it porn in the FPP, but I thought thought it was done tongue in cheeck, the same way people describe Friends or Sex in the City. Oh well, anyways, I'm not returning to this thread until I watch this movie.
  • Oh, and DARTH VADER DIES AT THE END!!! Yeah, take that!
  • I love Derek Jacobi (Claudius in I, Claudius) - I must see all of this sometime. (I have only ever caught snippets on TVO or PBS - all I know is that it is long, and at one Patrick Stewart appears with hair - his own?)
  • "Spoilers!"????

    Now these are spoilers.
  • I seem to remember that 'I, Claudius' ran a year or two before 'Caligula' came out. The people who lived up in the hills and drove Volvos talked about Claudius a LOT, when they weren't talking about 'Upstairs,Downstairs' or how horrible that Anita Bryant was; hard to believe, really, that people like her still exist, must be some kind of throwback, in this day and age! I remember these people. They drank tea made with bags, and coffee that wasn't instant or perked. They ate cheese that didn't come in individually wrapped slices and some of it wasn't even Pasteurized, if you can believe that. They listened to classical music, drank wine, and had highly-polished hardwood floors.(I felt sorry for my friend, who's parents couldn't afford wall-to-wall carpeting) Well, to get to the point: I never saw 'I, Claudius' because my parents didn't let us watch public television. Sometimes there was nudity, you see.And The Church didn't approve. And I was a leetle bit confused about the difference between Claudius and Caligula. Consequently, my friend and I took the late bus into San Francisco (being able to go places on the bus was also something i wasn't allowed to do, but when I slept at my friends house there were ALL kinds of things she got to do...she even had an allowance!) uh...took the late bus into San Francisco and went to see it. The theatre was huge and smelly and the floor was stickyand the seats were nearly empty. We sat in the back and smoked Rothmans, because we'd heard that David Bowie smoked them. And because we were a little uneasy. She was telling me all about 'I, Claudius' which she had seen (of course) and then the previews came on. I congratulated myself, after they were over, that I hadn't gaped or dropped my cigarette or hid my eyes, I was very grown up, very adult, and I was going to see a movie for adults and whatever else they showed at this theater, I was going to see this landmark blockbuster pushing-cinema-to-new-heights film that must improve the mind because it was about Romans and they all had British accents. And that is why I live in the woods.
  • So, Mr. Knickerbocker, I'm dying to know... what'd ya think? You gonna go live in the woods with PatB? Honestly, I didn't make it through the whole thing when I saw it. I was caught completely off guard, and rather traumatized by the experience.
  • ...but after Caligula, Usenet was a snap.
  • But when the eventual contract specified that only Dustin Hoffman would be permitted to play the title rĂ´le, Rossellini canceled the film. well, that would have been different.
  • Marjorie Thoreson (a.k.a. Anneka diLorenzo) sued Guccione and Penthouse for sexual slavery and violation of contract, and won, but only technically.