caligulabluThis movie tells the story of Caligula, one of the later emperors of the Roman Empire, the one most noted for his sexual depravity. Apparently Gore Vidal had a script for a miniseries that he was having trouble finding funding for. He had the idea of approaching Penthouse Magazine founder Bob Guccione, who agreed on two conditions: that the script be turned into a theatrical sword-and-sandal blowout, to be called “Gore Vidal’s Caligula,” and that hardcore sex be cut in, to appeal to Penthouse readers. Then the fun began: they roped in big-name actors who were under the impression that they were making a serious film [which it is], but things started to awry between Vidal, the director, Tinto Brass, and Guccione, who had a totally different idea of what the film should be.

After principal photography was done, Guccione fired Brass and edited the film himself, including hardcore porn stuff he had shot himself. In the end Vidal sued to have his name taken off the production, and McDowell, O’Toole and Geilgud expressing regret at ever appearing in the film. Then it faced all sorts of difficulties on release, was released in several different editions, and is now legendary, both for being a bad movie, and for being that sleazy movie with lots of sex and all sorts of perversion that you rent when you’re too afraid to get actual porn.

Caligula (Malcolm McDowell) is the grandson of the Roman Emperor Tiberius (Peter O’Toole) as his father Germanicus, was adopted by Tiberius. Instead of choosing his grandson by blood to be his successor, he chooses Caligula. In the process Caligula is having an affair with Drusilla (Teresa Ann Savoy). As soon as Caligula becomes emperor, he has to reproduce an heir to rule. Caligula is in love with his sister Drusilla whom he has had affairs with the last few years. He can’t marry her since it is forbidden. He ends up marrying Caesonia to be his wife, and so the madness begins.

Caligula is a very complicated movie that some admire and others despise. One scene that has caused a lot of controversy has to do with the famous lesbian sex scene between two Penthouse pets. This purely stirred a lot of controversy.
Movie Content: 3/5

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Print/Audio Quality

The print is presented in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 with a 2.00:1 aspect ratio. In what has to be one of the strangest aspect ratios that I have ever seen, it works with this film. While this film does not have the prettiest looking transfer, for fans of the film it will be enough to make them happy. Colors are dull and drab looking. There is a significant amount of film grain which can get heavy at times. Flesh tones are accurate. While there is some dirt in the print, it is nowhere near a distraction.
Video Quality: 2.5/5

The audio is presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless mix. There isn’t much going on in the soundfield in terms of ambient sound. Dialogue is clear and crisp with no hiccups.
Audio Quality: 3.5/5

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Special Features

Disc 1

  • Alternate pre-release version of the film
  • Revealing new full-length audio Commentaries with stars Malcolm McDowell and Helen Mirren
  • Startling audio commentary with on-set writer Ernest Volkman
  • Deleted and alternate scenes
  • Theatrical Trailers

Disc 2

  • Behind-the-scenes footage
  • Candid video interviews with director Tinto Brass and actors John Steiner and Lori Wagner
  • ‘The Making of Caligula’ documentary (two versions)
  • Hundreds of astonishing, never-before-seen photographs from the set
  • DVD-ROM extras including Gore Vidal’s original screenplay, three Penthouse magazine features, an intereview Bob Guccione
  • Liner Notes Booklet

Disc 1 is on Blu-ray with multiple commentaries involving Mirren and McDowell. Disc 2 is available on SD-DVD with several featurettes and more interviews. The DVD-ROM includes tons of Penthouse articles, interviews, and the original screenplay.
Special Features: 3.5/5

Final Thoughts

‘Caligula’ is not a film for everyone and it is one that’s harder to follow due to the convoluted direction of the story. On Blu-ray the film looks and sounds better than the previous DVD release. For fans of this film, this release on Blu-ray will make you happy while for those curious I would recommend a rental.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5 (Rental)