A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
"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. Disgusted and unspeakably depressed, I walked out of the film after two hours of its 170-minute length. That was on Saturday night, as a line of hundreds of people stretched down Lincoln Ave., waiting to pay $7.50 apiece to become eyewitnesses to shame.
I wanted to tell them ... what did I want to tell them? What I'm telling you now. That this film is not only garbage on an artistic level, but that it is also garbage on the crude and base level where it no doubt hopes to find its audience. "Caligula" is not good art, It is not good cinema, and it is not good porn.
I've never had anything against eroticism in movies. There are X-rated films I've enjoyed, from the sensuous fantasies of "Emmanuelle" to the pop-comic absurdities of Russ Meyer. I assume that the crowds lining up for admission to the Davis Theater were hoping for some sort of erotic experience; I doubt that they were spending $15 a couple for a lesson on the ancient history of Rome.
All I can say is that the makers of "Caligula" have long since lost touch with any possible common erotic denominator, and that they suggest by the contents of this film that they are jaded, perverse and cruel human beings. In the two hours of this film that I saw, there were no scenes of joy, natural pleasure, or good sensual cheer. There was, instead, a nauseating excursion into base and sad fantasies.