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Caligula (1979)


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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 4
Fresh: 0 | Rotten: 4



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Average Rating: 2.8/5
User Ratings: 10,798

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Movie Info

This lavish big-budget epic was the pinnacle of a uniquely Italian subgenre, the historical hardcore gore/porn extravaganza. The star-studded cast, perhaps lured by the high-profile involvement of producer Bob Guccione and screenwriter Gore Vidal, includes such luminaries as John Gielgud, Peter O'Toole, and Helen Mirren. Director Tinto Brass, whose similar treatment of Nazi Germany in Salon Kitty won him the job, did his best with the mammoth enterprise, but numerous production problems and


Drama, Classics

Oct 2, 2007

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All Critics (29) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (7) | Rotten (22) | DVD (22)

Such established names as John Gielgud and Peter O'Toole will have to be seen to be believed.

December 8, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Caligula is sickening, utterly worthless, shameful trash. If it is not the worst film I have ever seen, that makes it all the more shameful: People with talent allowed themselves to participate in this travesty.

December 8, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times | Comments (15)
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

All in all it's a dreary shambles.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

For sheer camp RBI, this Tinto Brass-Bob Guccione freak is the World Series played, won, and paraded.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[VIDEO ESSAY] If ever there was a filmic guide to pagan Roman debauchery - real or imagined - "Caligula" is it.

December 14, 2012 Full Review Source:

Not so much the culmination of '70s porn-chic cinema as its purposefully degraded last hurrah

November 16, 2009 Full Review Source: CinePassion

More infamous for its widespread ineptitude than for its artistic innovation... [Blu-ray]

January 30, 2009 Full Review Source: Groucho Reviews
Groucho Reviews

A classic in the coolest sense of the word

September 5, 2008 | Comment (1)

Sublimely ridiculous thesp-filled porno-togarama.

April 10, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4

Unpleasantly violent, often dull, and only intermittently sexy.

December 8, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

It ended up almost as infamous and notorious as its subject... and that's not a compliment.

November 3, 2007 Full Review Source:

I suppose certain college fraternities could make screening it part of their hazing rituals.

October 24, 2007 Full Review Source: Flipside Movie Emporium
Flipside Movie Emporium

Simply a curiosity, a laughable relic of a failed effort to bring explicit sex movies to the masses.

October 23, 2007 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

Despite the movie, the highlight of this three-disc set is the often hilarious commentary.

October 22, 2007 Full Review Source:

Excess for excess sake, or just bad taste: Caligula is a messy, bloody film that fails on any level, even as porn and camp.

October 15, 2007 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

Direção de arte e figurinos corretos; atuações intensas e uma direção corajosa. Pena que o roteiro pouco coeso comprometa estes esforços.

March 28, 2005
Cinema em Cena

Caligula turns the Julian dynasty's most violent chapter into a sleazy snoozefest. Even the Penthouse Pets look pained to be decorating this historic bomb.

November 25, 2004

Kinda dumb and tacky, but at least it's a real movie.

March 24, 2004 | Comments (7)
New Times

professes to be an honest depiction of ancient Roman excesses, but it succeeds only in being alternately boring and offensive

September 15, 2002
Q Network Film Desk

Caligula boasts a sort of notoriety known to few films. It was a lavish accident: the marriage of legitimate film and smut.

April 3, 2002 Full Review Source: Not Coming to a Theater Near You
Not Coming to a Theater Near You

...the film is without any redeeming social value. It's bad history, bad filmmaking, and bad pornography, too.

January 1, 2000
Movie Metropolis

Audience Reviews for Caligula

An experiment in over excess and pushing boundaries of good taste, Caligula is one of the worst films to ever be made. The problem with the film is that it has hardcore sex acts that are shown in the film, and it has nothing to do with the plot. They intercourse throughout the film, and it's graphic, and while you're watching this, you're wondering if you're watching a porn film, and in my personal opinion, this is a porno. The filmmakers use hardcore sex and graphic violence in a mainstream film and try to make an entertaining film. Well, this is far from entertainment. Caligula is a curiosity at best in the sense that the film is a train wreck, and you can't look away. The film has nothing going for it, and it's a porn film with a poorly thought out plot. If the explicit sex scenes would have been cut out, and the script would have been rewritten in order to have a well crafted story, then maybe this film would have succeeded in being a truly compelling drama, and frankly it's a shame that the filmmakers opted in making a piece of cinematic trash by including extreme violence and sex acts throughout. Another aspect of the film that really stuns me is the fact that so many talented actors have starred in this awful film. I would say that Caligula is a mainstream porn film due to its content, and it's a film that should never have been made. Caligula is one of the worst films that I have had the misfortune to see. There is nothing good here, no shroud of story, good acting and good direction. Caligula in the end is a film that fails in terms of filmmaking, and it tries to pass off trashy, taboo subject matter as entertainment, which overall makes this a film that should be avoided, and one that lacks any artistic merit. Caligula might have been a good movie if they would drop the whole erotic/pornographic aspect of the film as well as the extreme violence, and focused on telling a good story. It's a great shame because films based in ancient Rome are usually quite entertaining, however Caligula is not one of them, and it's an excruciating film to sit through.
April 19, 2014
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

Props for making a film like this in 1979...but...what....?!
June 8, 2013

Super Reviewer

Okay, this was a hard one for me to review, but actually, shockingly so, not that hard to watch considering the filth that is the film's contents. All right, the cinematography is a weird mixture of cheap and well-executed shots. And knowing the turbulent history surrounding the production of the film, I was able to bypass it for the most part. The editing was shoddy and too fragmented, mostly filling scenes that probably would have been better if kept short, with random jump cuts to penis and vagina taking up most of the frame. The pornographic footage was completely unnecessary and actually, much of it was insanely cruel for really no reason at all (i.e. Caligula's hallucinations, the notorious fisting scene). The direction was beyond messed up. The reason being that the project's original director Tinto Brass was booted off the project and the film's producer, Penthouse founder Bob Guccione, took over filming extra scenes and shots of hardcore porn and tearing the original work print to pieces, actually cutting out over an hour of footage originally in the film. This is on top of his major insistence for tumultuous amounts of sex and nudity in the film at the get-go. The acting, considering the bizarre and fragmented script, was actually really good for the most part in my opinion. With Grade-A actors like Malcolm McDowell, Helen Mirren, Paolo Bonacelli, John Gielgud and above all, Peter O'Toole. I do believe if this project had kept the original screenplay by writing legend Gore Vidal, and Tinto Brass was not forced to accommodate Guccione's requests, I have a feeling this could have turned out to be a good movie, but sadly, this is a high-priced skin flick with some good elements and some disgusting sadomasochistic violence.
September 27, 2011
Matthew Roe
Matthew Roe

Super Reviewer

Now i Believe for a fact is that my dad saw Caligula when it first opened here about 1981, And despite it he really didn't think much of the film like many...
He only regreated stadning in those long lines to see this Box Office and record breaking film.

But like many the only question he did ask was "Is it really true?" "Is this the most accurate prediction of Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus"? Or is it really nothing but Hard-Core porn.

And i would like to know how many of you that are reading this saw it when it first played?
May 18, 2011
Keiko A. --Samurai--
Keiko Aya

Super Reviewer

    1. Caligula: If only all Rome had just one neck.
    – Submitted by Tracey M (18 months ago)
    1. Caligula: If only all Rome had just one neck.
    – Submitted by Tracey M (18 months ago)
    1. Drusilla: I thought you didn't like virgins.
    2. Caligula: I've never known any.
    – Submitted by Daniel m (24 months ago)
    1. Caligula: Caesar cannot be a fool!
    – Submitted by Michael M (2 years ago)
    1. Caligula: I have existed from the morning of the world and I shall exist until the last star falls from the night. Although I have taken the form of Gaius Caligula, I am all men as I am no man and therefore I am... a God.
    – Submitted by Yanti A (3 years ago)
View all quotes (5)

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