Blu-ray Review: Caligula: The Untold Story (1982)

April 1, 2022

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

1980’s Italian cinema will truly attempt to cash in on any and all exploitation crazes but none makes less (or more) sense than Caligulasploitation, a small collection of films created to ride the world-wide phenomenon that wasn’t 1979’s Caligula (directed by Tinto Brass, himself an Italian… with extra porn courtesy of Penthouse‘s Bob Guccione), a sleazy-as-fuck production telling of the last years of ancient Roman Emperor Gaius “Caligula” Caesar with a sky-high budget and an impressive array of actors on hand such as Malcolm McDowell, Peter O’Toole, and Helen Mirren. Rest assured, none of those mother fuckers will be showing up here…

This brings us to Severin film’s new Blu-ray release of Joe D’Amato’s (Anthropophagus: The Grim Reaper) Caligula: The Untold Story… this ought to set the record straight!

So what’s ol’ Caligula (David Brandon) up to in his “untold story”? Well a lot of torturing, fucking, and general absolute lunacy… you know, the same as in his “told story” basically. But, along with that he makes the rather poor decision of raping Livia (Fabiola Toledo); a member of a secret Christian sect that just happens to have a friend in Miriam (Laura Gemser), a worshipper of Anubis who is more than willing to go the absolute distance to get revenge.

What does “the distance” mean? Well, after praying to her god by masturbating with  dildo, she sets off to join the ranks of the cities sex workers, a position that will doubtless put her in close contact with Caligula, ‘cuz that dude is hella horny. But Miriam isn’t the only new recruit to the brothel, as our “hero” has also requested that Rome’s vestal virgins be part of the skin trade as well… and what better initiation than to swim in a pool while the Emperor accosts you underwater with a dildo… ah, the times, the times!

Now let’s just pause and let me mention that if that last paragraph disturbed you, just stop reading now and go about your day, because my fucking god you are not equipped for what this film has to offer…

So eventually an orgy takes place that features full-on sex, copious vomit, and a scene involving a horse so tacky that I simply can’t even believe it was committed to film. I also can’t believe my TV didn’t just fall of the wall and shatter to as not show another frame of  Caligula: The Untold Story. But alas, it did not…

So this orgy… it’s long… so long in fact I looked up some facts about Caligula, and take it from me, the reason this was the “Untold Story” is because besides the names, and the fact Caligula was an Emperor, the rest of this shit is completely made-up (by D’Amato, Big George Eastman, and The Church’s Michele Soavi, who also has a brief but memorable role in the film). I know right? Movies are fiction, who would have guessed…

After that, the orgy entered it’s second, albeit mercifully briefer second act… and the plot to overthrow Big C thickens…

So, this is hands down one of the most offensive things I have ever placed my putrid peepers upon, and that is really saying something, but that is definitely the point of the entire affair!

Before I go forward, I should mention the review above is of the Uncut Italian version of the film, but if you are feeling a tad less frisky, Severin have included the truncated U.S. cut of the picture as well, and it is waaaaay tamer, and shorter, than it’s 121 minute long original recipe).

Now look, and ain’t gonna bullshit you, the shocks are the real star of the film, but there are sequences of shocking beauty among the bits of puke, full penetration, un-simulated blow jobs, horseplay, anal torture, regular torture…

Anyway, D’Amato had the good sense to hire attractive leads. Brandon, who looks like a Roman sculpture come to life, carries on like he’s absolutely having the time of his life playing the role of Caligula, and the calm, cool, and heart-stoppingly beautiful Gemser, is every bit his match. D’Amato presents sequences of their relationship that are oozing painterly romantic atmosphere… which stands in stark and effective contrast to the debauchery at hand.

Speaking of which, if you have ever wondered just what it was like to work on a production like this, the bonus material on this Blu-ray release have got you covered! Included are interviews with Brandon (who is the calmest, laid back British dude you will ever encounter), screenwriter Luigi Montefiori (the aforementioned “Eastman” who starred in countless flicks including the equally aforementioned Anthropophagus: The Grim Reaper, and offers a brutally frank talk), and actor Mark Shannon who discusses his career in adult cinema.

Also included are a series of deleted scenes, a trailer for the film’s U.K. video release, and the film’s soundtrack on a separate audio CD.

There is something completely refreshing witnessing a film just revel in it’s relentless sleaziness… a film that in no way, shape, or form would even get past the concept stage in today’s world… but 1980’s Italy was absolutely the wild fuckin’ West of the cinema world, and pictures such as Caligula: The Untold Story set that fact in unbreakable stone.

For the adventurous connoisseur of Italian cinematic madness, Caligula: The Untold Story is like a fine wine, delicious and completely satisfying, but those grapes were squeezed by ass rather than foot. Experience it!

 

 

 

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