Friday, April 5, 2013


Caligula is one of those unique snowflakes of a film, a wholly unrepeatable mashup of lofty artistic pretension and naked, craven exploitation. Its troubled production is the stuff of legend, and its critical reception was nothing short of toxic. If ever there was a film made for the Progressive Cinema Scorecard, this surrealist, pornographic bio of one of Rome's most notorious emperors was surely it.
  • WHAT?!? Netflix doesn't have the uncut 156-minute version on the instant queue? Where's my extra 15 minutes of gratuitous hardcore sex? = -126pts
  • Screenplay by Gore Vidal. = +25pts
  • Oh, wait. Based on a screenplay by Gore Vidal. = -75pts
  • Casting Alex from A Clockwork Orange as Rome's batshit craziest emperor. = +36pts
  • Tantalizing us with hot '70s nudity in the opening scene, only to reveal that the parties concerned are brother and sister. = -6pts
  • Miles of dangling chain gang slave wang. = +8pts
  • Peter O'Toole: the drunken, paranoid, syphilitic grandfather we never had. = +30pts
  • Emperor Tiberius's pleasure grotto looks like something out of an Hieronymus Bosch painting. = +25pts
  • Holy shit! Is that a human centipede on Tiberius's stairs? = +20pts
  • Drowning the stuck-up butler from Arthur in a glass bathtub. = +10pts
  • So, wait, no one's going to... I don't know... remove the the thing you used to strangle the emperor from around his neck before letting everyone know that he's dead?  No? Okay, I guess you guys know what you're doing. = -17pts
  • Young, partially nude Helen Mirren. = +100pts
  • A doomsday machine with rotating death blades decapitating prisoners buried up to their necks in the floor of the Colosseum? Why the hell not! = +200pts
  • The constant, haunting presence of Malcom McDowell's supple, hairless ass cheeks. = -24pts
  • Caligula delivers the most enthusiastic thumbs-up in cinematic history following Caesonia'"erotic" dance. = +41pts
  •  Thank God they've captured the ancient Roman tradition of giving birth upright and cruciform for an audience of hundreds. Just like I always read about in my history texts. = +42pts
  • Watching Caligula clumisily dragging his sister's naked corpse up the steps to a statue of Isis and knowing that somehow this scene was supposed to inspire pathos instead of snorting laughter. = -13pts
  • Wow. I don't even know how to begin to describe what's going on here. So we've got an imperial orgy including all the wives and daughters of the senate, but the whole scene takes place in a land-bound ivory Roman galley, complete with oarsmen and a formation of Roman legionaries sashaying around it in a choreographed dance number. = +50pts
  • Watching the re-enactment of Caligula's "conquest" of Britain. I'm glad the film makers captured the classic Roman strategy of sending their naked soldiers into battle first. You know, to weird the enemy out. = +13pts
  • Apparently the password to enter the royal palace was "scrotum." = +10pts
  • Gross historical inaccuracy. = -74pts
  • Gross historical inaccuracy: = +148pts
Total Score: +419
Available on: Netflix, the writing team of Rome's DVD shelf, nowhere in the filmography of Gore Vidal

An A-list cast, hopelessly elaborate '70s art deco Roman sets, and a screenplay that unfolds as though it were written by someone who had read a wikipedia article on ancient Rome while huffing paint out of a sack made of mescaline. Even without the fifteen minutes of completely unnecessary and totally unsimulated sexual perversion, there's more than enough jaw-dropping insanity in this film to make Scorecard history.

Score Technician: Joe Hemmerling

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