Most of the guys my age know of the infamous movie, “Caligula“. Made in 1976, the movie was as famous for it’s hardcore sex scenes as all the backstabbings going on behind the camera. Originally this movie was planned as a serious examination of all the perversion the Emperor Caligula brought to Rome during his short lived reign with actors highly respected today, from Peter O Toole, Dame Helen Mirren, and Malcolm McDowell (the guy who killed Captain Kirk in “Star Trek : Generations.”). Instead, thanks to Bob Guccione, then-owner of Penthouse, snuck behind the director’s back and shot several hardcore scenes with his “pets” and sliced them into the final print. The result was a movie that was put together sloppily, and very uneven.
When I managed to get my hands on an old VHS tape of the movie almost 20 years ago back in grade school, I was mesmerized by all the crazy sex that happened on the movie. So when the “Imperial Edition” for Caligula finally came out last week on blu-ray, I jumped at the chance to get this classic on high def. Yes, this is the fully unrated version, which shows all of Bob Guccione’s footage of his Penthouse models doing all sorts of things, but I was pretty disappointed by the picture quality. Comparibly better than those old VHS tapes, this blu-ray had the picture and sound quality of a standard DVD. The picture was colorful, not sharp, leaving no impression of being three-dimensional, the hallmark of a refence quality Blu Ray. The acting was also atrocious, with only the core group of actors showing true talent with all the other cast acting like extras from “Borat.”
Let’s talk about the sex as well. All the scenes are intact, but if you’ve watched any kind of porn in the last 10 years, you’ve probably seen better. Even the infamous scene between Lori Wagner and some other model for Penthouse was not that great, especially given the commentary on the disc from the actress saying that she was almost forced to do the scene, and that they used “egg white” to simulate certain physical arousal. I will say no more, it really turned me off.
So overall, some movies do not age greatly with time, and this is one of them. If you are still curious about the movie, I would say forget paying the extra bucks for the blu-ray, just go and buy the standard DVD version for a few bucks.
– Jerry Chen