Thursday, January 15, 2009

DVD Review: Caligula(Blue Ray) The Imperial Edition

For 2009 I have decided to review movies on this blog as I see fit. I will focus on those that I am offered for review that happen to be near and dear to my rusted black ticker. Today I present Caligula: The Imperial Edition on Blue Ray. Caligula is one of those movies that happened to affect me in the right place at the right time. It was my first introduction to the LOVE SCENE. The right time was 1981...junior high was awash over me. I rocked the green Levi's cords(with the white pocket tag) and the flannel snapped shirt and the immense purple comb. Back then at Martha Brown Junior had a comb. Period. The feathers HAD to be in place, even in study hall. We had to be cute AND coiffed..for the ladies, you know? The one you wanted to ask to meet you at Sharkey's Skate rink that weekend..both parties being dropped off and picked up by their Moms in covert, non embarrassing fashion. The skates were tight and so were the Jordaches ...In other words...Puberty was in full force.

My 12 year old libido was uncapped, let free and nudged along by this movie and its brilliant depravity scarred me for life.It was produced by Bob Guccione(of Penthouse) and starred a gaggle of top award winning actors...John Gielgud, Peter O'Toole, Helen Mirren and Malcolm McDowell. The place to be was ancient Rome, and life with the mildly insane Caesar(Caligula was his nickname) and his friends or enemies was one huge trial, blodbath or orgy. This guy namedropped himself as a God, took a lot of baths and drank and screwed until Rome burned. He also bedded his own sisters and tried to make his Horse a priest in the eyes of the people! He outdid his own Grandfather Tiberius who was a mack daddy of depravity in his own right.Furthermore and fabulous, he had a hand in his murder to steal the throne! Dude! I don't think his partying skills have ever been rivaled and it is well on display on this expanded 2 disc DVD (originally released in 1980 in the US-the year my voice broke).There is a staggering list of extras included with this release: never before seen pics from the set, an alternate pre -release version , Gore Vidal's original screenplay, and an interview with Lori Wagner. Lori was one of the 2 women in the legendary lesbian scene at the Temple of Isis (pretty hardcore for 1980) that changed my life via Betamax in a suburban basement somewhere.
The movie's production problems, snafus lawsuits and budget were the stuff of legend.. The original director Tinto Brass was fired by Guccione for shooting enough film to "Make Ben Hur 50 times over" and Guccione took over to put his own Penthouse pets in a variety of hardcore scenes. Brass preferred to use flawed and zaftig type women in a more realistic vision of Rome. The script was changed several times while shooting, and it was panned upon release in the US in 1980 for excessive debauchery(or people having too much fun)with scenes including infanticide, female urination, anal fisting,incest and castration. I wonder what the Velvet Rope policy was to get into this place? It was breath taking as a nubile teen on a hot streak of self discovery and breathtaking now.. Its all here on this release...the wine, the blood the beast and the breast..worth another look for sure for the cast, the extras and the lore behind this enormous undertaking.

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