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If someone asked me if I was a fan of Aristide Massacessi, I'd probably
laugh mockingly into their hurt faces. Yet when I look at the comments
written for the IMDB, I've reviewed FAR more of his films than anyone
else's! Say what you like about the man, but he really knows how to
utterly unpredictable and hilarious sleaze when you least expect it- which
is probably why I keep finding myself attracted to his
CALIGULA: THE UNTOLD STORY is a superb example of this. What possible commercial motivation (other than ripping off the original CALIGULA, obviously) could there be for a movie like this? Within the first few scenes, Michele Soavi has had his tongue graphically cut off, and the fun pops up at regular intervals from there. Unexpected hardcore sequences and yet MORE scenes of equine masturbation (what WAS Massacessi thinking when he thought such scenes could add something to his movies?), plus sleazy violence, come thick and fast. However, unlike Massacessi's other weird attempts at fusing genres (see EMANUELLE IN AMERICA, PORNO HOLOCAUST etc for examples), CALIGULA: THE UNTOLD STORY is actually quite watchable. This is probably because he chose to throw the sleaze into a reasonably interesting (if hideously inaccurate!) historical story, rather than just into a flaccid soft sex film like he normally would.
I can't help but love this. Sure, it's not actually GOOD, but just when you think the film might be going downhill, you get a screen-full of a man being speared to death through his rectum. I have no idea what audience demographic Massacessi was thinking of when he made this, but I can assure you that it comes highly recommended.
A fact I would never admit to people I want to like me, I am a fan of
Joe D'amato flicks. Here he is up to his old tricks; offering over the
top blood shed, pointless plotting and (depending on which version you
have) some X-rated sex scenes.
If you know anything about history, then there is no point in going through the plot. For those unaware, Caligula was a Ceaser and emperor of Rome. He was also generally regarded as the most brutal, demented ruler the empire ever had.
Joe D'amato strings together a lose revenge tale around his favorite leading lady, 'Black Emmanuel' Laura Gamser (funny, she's Asian). Her friend is killed by the diabolical Emperor in a botched rape attempt and she goes undercover into the place to get vengeance. Along the way we see three-ways, four-ways, prostitute training, a man impaled on a spike, the list just goes on. The coup de grace is a party scene in which we are treated to gladiators killing each other, a horse (yes, I said horse) hand job, and a long (if you have the real unedited version, which to my knowledge is out of print) orgy with all the X-rated trimmings.
D'amato flicks are most certainly an acquired taste. Most will find this to be filth, but if you have the mind for it, then this is one of the sleaze master's best.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have to say that D'Amato's take on the life and death of Roman
Emperor, Caligula, was pretty much exactly what I was expecting. The
storyline centers less around any real historical relevance and instead
goes straight for the sleaze - which is just fine by me. I'd already
sat through Tinto Brass's epic film about the depraved Caesar, I was
fine with this entry being a lot "thinner"...
D'Amato's imagining of the emperor's life leaves out many of the actual details surrounding him, and instead wallows in long orgy scenes and some decent violence and torture. We get a pretty good look at the type of person that Caligula was, but there's very little history to be learned here. The bulk of the storyline is based around Caligula's "love" of a slave-girl named Miriam (played by super-smoker Laura Gemser) and her wish to betray him for the murder of one of her friends. Honestly - none of this really matters, you'd be better off resigning yourself to the fact that you're basically watching a mid-budget porn film...
Definitely worth checking out if you're a fan of D'Amato's other sleazy offerings like EMANUELLE IN America and EROTIC NIGHTS OF THE LIVING DEAD, just don't expect to pass any tests by using the film as a Cliff's Notes version of Caligula's life. I'm pretty sure that D'Amato realized that he'd never reach the heights of infamy or production value with his film that Brass enjoyed with his far more expensive and elaborate telling of the tale - so I figure D'Amato decided to just try to out-sleaze him - and it worked. Way more graphic sex including midget-sex and some more horse-masturbation (a la EMANUELLE IN America) - so fans of this sort of thing will be pleased. Not a perfect film, but sleaze fans will get a laugh out of the seriousness of such a blatantly trashy production...8.5/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The critical derision heaped upon Tinto Brass' Caligula didn't stop
that film from becoming a considerable box office hit which spawned a
number of low-grade imitations. The best known of these is probably
this entry from notorious Black Emmanuelle series director Joe D'Amato.
He even ropes in the star of his best know films, Laura Gemser, to play
the lead female role.
The "untold story" was hitherto untold because it didn't happen. D'Amato's film has as its main thread the story of a slave worshipper of Anubis (Gemser) who inveigles her way into Caligula's court and bed in order to exact revenge on the Emperor for his rape and murder of said slave's former mistress, a coy Christian maid, a crime which the Emperor has palmed off on the Christian sect itself. None of the historical records of Caligula's rein show him being bothered or bothering with the newly formed Christian religion, and it was not until his successor Claudius successor Nero that the Christians came in for persecution. So much for history. Yet one doesn't go to a film like this for an accurate history lesson. But what does one come to a film like this for? The story of the slave's revenge has little tension, although it turns potentially dramatically interesting when the revenger falls in love with her quarry. This means that, after various atrocities, we get a soft-focus, lushly scored "aren't we in love" sequence. Many year previously, Montiverdi had mocked romance by giving a beautiful love duet to Nero and Poppea, and whilst D'Amato's film doesn't quite reach the levels of sublime challenge that the maestro's opera does, it at least has a game or two to play with the idea of love conquering all. There ought to be dramatic potential in the slave's consequent quandary but sadly although Gemser is a fine presence on film and stretches her acting skills a little but further than she does in the Black Emmanuelle films, she hasn't got the range to carry complex emotions off.
The film begins with a prologue in which a poet tries to kill the Emperor, and has his tongue torn out and his arm and leg ligaments severed, so that he might "compose verses of hate in his head but never be able to speak or write them." A suitably lurid image of life under a tyrants rule.
The centrepiece of the film is an enormous orgy sequence, which holds up the action and loses sight of the lead characters but affords special pleasures of its own. It loses the leads because they are something like legitimate actors, and the orgy has its fair share of hardcore shots masturbation, fellatio, vaginal intercourse but it's the peripheral elements which shock. First we get a violent gladiatorial combat to the death, where two fighters pummel the hell out of each other wearing spiked gloves, spattering the orgiasts with blood; then we get the orgy itself, which is punctuated by such unappetising spectacles as gerontophilia and a man vomiting into his hand then, without wiping his mouth, turning to kiss his lady again. The sequence has the usual weird effect, well practised by this director, of suddenly springing hardcore sex onto the viewer when hitherto things had been raunchy but softcore the effect of suddenly seeing erections, split beavers and meat-shots is quite disorientating, and really adds to the sleaziness of proceeding. Caligula's antics were unacceptable, and here's a film that is also somewhat unacceptable
Caligula: The Untold Story is punctuated by dream sequences in which the Emperor is haunted by guilt and retribution for his crimes. Add these to the scenes of pornography, violence, sexual training and Machiavellian machinations, the film comes across as a weird hybrid of Bunuel, Pasolini (in Salo mode), the Brass Caligula and a cheap grindhouse porn epic. If that sounds to your taste, you should love D'Amato's film, which is as ever with him quite unlike anything likely to be made these days.
I'm probably one of the few people in the world who don't automatically
categorize Joe D'Amato's film as 'worthless' or 'sleazy junk'. No, I
actually support the opinion that he's a filmmaker with vision. With
films like 'Buried Alive', 'Death Smiles at Murder' and 'Emanuelle and
the Last Cannibals' he proved that he's capable of combining gruesome
horror images and gore with a compelling script. This film, however,
completely takes the edge off the above stated opinion. Caligula: The
Untold Story is a very ugly and mediocre film about history's most
notorious figure. Following Tinto Brass' controversial cult-epic,
D'Amato focuses on the cruel and inhuman reign of the Roman emperor.
This film particularly handles about a personal vendetta between a
Moor-woman (whose friend got brutally killed) and the Emperor. She's
torn between her personal feelings and her urge to take vengeance bla
Caligula is a non-stop series of uninteresting sleaze, lame gore, terrible acting skills and inferior production values. The film starts out well enough, with a great cameo from Michele Soavi (later the director of masterpieces like 'Dellamorte Dellamore') trying to kill Caligula but, after this, it all goes downhill. David Cain is an incredibly bad actor and even the gorgeous Laura 'Black Emanuelle' Gemser doesn't look sensual enough to keep you watching. This film reminded me a lot about history lessons in school. The substance is fascinating enough, but it's brought in such a tedious and dull way. You're way better of watching Brass' epic staring Malcolm McDowell.
I am quite a Joe D'amato fan for such films as "Anthropophagus" and some of the Emmanuelle series so to my surprise I hadn't heard of this film until about a week ago. Naturally, I went through all the lengths to find the hardcore version of this movie and with luck did find it. This movie is in no way as good as Penthouse's "Caligula" but is in no way a forgettable movie. Anyone that knows the story of Caligula knows he was quite a sick man or should I say monster. This version of the film is definitely XXX and can be quite disturbing even to a person of my tastes. The movie starts off kind of slow except for the very opening scene where you see Italian director Michele Soavi get his nerves cut and his tongue cut out. The movie does pick up and about half way through the movie is an orgy scene that seems to just go on and on. This scene, for me, has some of the most tasteless moments in it. I am not even going to describe it other than there is a horrible beastiality scene which is just wrong on many levels. I think the most disturbing part in the movie is when Caligula finds out he is being conspired against. So naturally, he finds the conspirators and does one of the most horrendous things I have ever scene on film. And what happens to one of the conspirators family is unspeakable. So, if you are a fan of the original "Caligula" I say to check this movie out. Just expect a low budget movie with some horrible scene.
I am a history buff, and have done quite a bit of research on late republic--early empire Rome. The funny thing about the film is that the only part that is really historically accurate (aside from Caligula being emperor) is the starting Narration, when an unseen narrator describes Caligula as a "Pervert, glutton, Paranoid, insomniac--this is his story!" After that, fiction takes over, making the movie (and the music) very third rate. Some parts are very disturbing, but gives you a view of the mental capacity of Romans before Christianity took hold of Italy. The acting was second rate. Most of the main players couldn't even speak English, and the 'voice in's' were horribly sequenced. But I must give two thumbs up for David Brandon (Caligula). He played the part so convincingly, with his arrogant, cruel, sadistic actions, that in my opinion, made the movie. <<by the way, does anyone know what David Brandon is up too these days?>> Since it's obvious that the film contains nudity, and many violent scenes, I thought I would focus on the merits (though few and far between). And I must say that the intimate scenes between Laura Gemser (Mariam) and DB are very enticing.
Caligula 2: The Untold Story (1982)
* 1/2 (out of 4)
Another notorious film from director Joe D'Amato, this one a cheap rip off of Caligula, although this one is actually a lot better. I watched the uncut, hardcore 125-minute version and this here featured over thirty minutes worth of additional scenes that aren't in the R-rated American cut. All of these scenes are dialogue driven stuff but this here actually slows the film down a lot. There's also a 20+ minute Roman orgy, which is where this film gets its notorious label. Everything from midgets to horses is on display here but this too slows down the action. The cast, including D'Amato regular Laura Gemser, is pretty good as are the sets and costume design. I doubt I'll bother tracking down any of the alternate versions but my guess is that they'd be a bit more entertaining than this longer cut.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Part graphic horror, part cheesy romance, part sex film, this low
budget sequel to CALIGULA is happy to rehash the same basic plot, only
changing the characters and emphasising the violence and sex. The
latter comes as no surprise when you realise that Joe D'Amato (hiding
under the name of David Hills), directed and co-wrote (with George
Eastman) this movie and his typical extremities are here explored to
the fullest. Bloody, sadistic violence is interspersed with sweaty
hardcore sex scenes (D'Amato later became a full-time porn director)
and typical D'Amato perversions involving a horse. You won't have seen
anything like it but it's not exactly what I call entertainment.
Between the incident the film largely drags, hampered by a script in
which nothing much happens to the characters and dragged down by poor
acting from the supporting cast. The endless dream sequences are
confusing as well as being dull and only serve to slow the film down
David Brandon (STAGE FRIGHT) takes over from Malcolm McDowell as the Emperor Caligula. Although I do like Brandon as an actor he simply can't repeat McDowell's disturbing portrayal of the insane tyrant, instead he plays it shouty and over-the-top as only he knows and the result is less impressive. Saying this, he still gives the best performance I've seen in a D'Amato flick and is miles ahead of the rest of the cast, so maybe that gives you some impression of what else is in store. D'Amato stalwart Laura Gemser (whose appearance almost turns the film into a kind-of Emanuelle in Ancient Rome, what with all the sex going on) appears as an oft-naked slave girl who begins a torrid romance with Caligula.
It's pretty hard to spot familiar faces in the cast, what with all the porn actors appearing, but there are a few. Fans of Alberto Cavallone's cannibal-caveman epic MASTER OF THE WORLD may spot Sasha D'Arc as Caligula's personal guard, then there's Euro-stalwart Gabriele Tinti as the deeply unlucky Marcellus Agrippa and Michele Soavi as an unlucky poet who gets the tendons in his arms and legs cut and his tongue sliced off in extra-graphic detail! Speaking of gore, D'Amato is in his element with bloody gladiator battles, a guy having a sword shoved somewhere extremely painful, decapitations, a baby being thrown to its death and the old gag of a scene where Caligula is dying and a senator says "I would offer my life in place of his" at which instant Caligula recovers and has said senator killed - this was previously used in the first CALIGULA. This one is for graphic exploitation freaks only.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What would you expect from a movie that's titled Caligula"? Well, if
that is your cup of tea, you'd first of all think of the scandal-ridden
1979 film; you'd think of sadistic violence, mixed with plenty of
nudity and the occasional inserted scene of un-simulated sex. In other
words: you wouldn't think of Suetonius you'd think 'pure
Need we mention that "Caligula" was a huge financial success at the box-office? It only took two years for infamous Italian schlock-maestro Joe D'Amato to try and fetch a few crumbs from this success and rip-off the formula of history, sexual depravity and cruel sadism.
"Caligula: The Untold Story" is exploitation in its purest form: yes, there is plenty of gore; there are porn segments (including bestiality and the infamous 'girl with a horse'-segment, similar to the one that D'Amato already used in "Emmanuelle in America"), and than there's more gore, more nudity and more un-simulated sex.
Now, don't expect an ancient Rome built with the budget of "Gladiator"; not even the budget of the original "Caligula". Think more along the set-design of "I, Claudius" (and, apart from playing in ancient Rome, that's all those two productions have in common), and props culled from other, possibly even cheaper Italian historic film.
David Brandon (here billed as David Cain) mimics the performance of Malcolm McDowells mad but charismatic Caligula, coming across as suitable creepy and psychotic, yet it's always clear: a real actor he is not. Laura Gemser goes to the limits of her acting abilities namely showing off her well-proportioned bodies and the rest of the cast are all extras from many other Joe D'Amato-films.
From this point in time, D'Amato began to drop all pretensions of producing "real films" and would sink ever deeper into the realm of porn, 15 years later "remake" his "Caligula" in pure XXX-form.
3 from 10 points should be suitably generous.
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