1 Best Releases Starring Alexandra Rübner

The Spool Staff

Caligula

The most expensive porn film of all time turns 40 this year & remains a body fluid splattered tribute to hubris & incompetence. Pull up a holochair and let me tell you about the days long ago, the 1970s, when if you wanted to see images of naked bodies (let alone naked bodies rubbing up against each other), you had to leave the privacy of your home and buy them, either in a magazine, or at a movie theater. Despite the risk of embarrassing encounters with neighbors or co-workers, porn was a booming business back then, and nobody was raking in more money on it than Hugh Hefner, Larry Flynt, and Bob Guccione. Hef cornered the market in presenting pornography as a tasteful pastime for distinguished gentlemen, something Flynt didn’t bother trying, and Guccione continuously fell short on. Guccione did triumph over Hef in one way, however, by producing the most expensive pornographic film ever made. Regrettably, that movie was Caligula. Guccione wanted to produce a movie that could be shown in more than just dark, foul-smelling theaters with sticky floors, and luckily, he happened to run into writer Gore Vidal. Vidal wanted to make a serious historical drama about Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, nicknamed Caligula, one of the best known yet least interesting of the Caesars. I say this because Caligula was known for only one thing, and that was being a horrible person who did horrible things. It may not necessarily be accurate, but it’s what history has proclaimed, and it’s not like anyone’s going to suddenly pop up and provide irrefutable evidence that he was kind to animals and helped old ladies cross the street. Caligula lacks the “even Hitler loved his mom” duality of nature that makes villains fascinating. He seemed to emerge from the womb a murderous degenerate, and is boring as a character in the same way that people who are constantly happy and carefree are boring.  “Degenerate” was all Bob Guccione had to hear before putting up the bulk of the cost to film Caligula, however, and his money paid for Italian shooting locations, costumes (for those characters who wore clothing) and set design, and even appearances from elder statesmen of cinema Peter O’Toole and John Gielgud. Rather than focus on Vidal’s original story of absolute power corrupting absolutely, Guccione wanted to focus more on what Caligula did in his off-time from being emperor of Rome, namely raping, killing, torturing and, most especially, engaging in (or watching) kinky, debauched sex. It’s easy to see how Caligula became such a bloated, appalling mess -- in short, it could be blamed on the clash of egos between the notoriously cantankerous Vidal, who apparently didn’t realize that whoever provides the most cash for a movie has the most say over how it turns out, director Tinto Brass, who had his own, allegedly even more incomprehensible vision for the film, and Guccione, who just wanted to be taken seriously as an auteur, preferably while still being able to get away with money shots. Continue Reading →