Thursday, September 21, 2006


Caligola : La storia mai raccontata (Caligula II : The Untold Story)


Director & Writer; Joe D'Amato (as David Hills) & George Eastman
Country; Italy
Duration; 125 mins (Original film aspect ratio; 2.35:1)
Available; DVD Region X Rated Kult Video Region 2
Colour *WIDESCREEN*English Dub (some of the footage pops into italian with english subs)

Caligula II: The Untold Story/ Caligula: The Untold Story (UK) /Emperor Caligula (Italy) /Emperor Caligula: The Garden of Taboo (USA) (video title)/Imperatore Caligula, L' (Italy) (alternative title) /The Emperor Caligula: The Untold Story (USA)

The Players; David Brandon (Caligula) / Laura Gemser (Miriam) / Gabriele Tinti (Marcellus Agrippa) / Sasha D'Arc (Ulmar)/ Michele Soavi (Dimitius) / Ulla Luna (Clizia) / Charles Borommel (Petreio) / Larry Dolgin (Cornello Varrone) / Oliver Finch (Messala) /Alessandro Freyberger (Ezio) / John Alin (Tullio Gallio)

Cashing in on Bob Guccione/ Tinto Brass original venture into tits and toga comes this unofficial sequel courtesy of the stalwart of sleaze - Joe D’Amato.

D’Amato released the film in 1981 utilising the same poster art of the bleeding coin which can now be arguably heralded as an icon of exploitation cinema.

D’Amato had already bought other wonderful unsavoury delights including one of my favourite movies and one of his all time shockers ‘Emanuelle in America’ so we can already guess what sort of experiences lays in wait for the thrill seeking viewer.

Sword and Sandal now joined forces with sex and gore as cash-in’s flooded the market and attempted to bring in more Liras.

Diverting from the ideals of conventional ‘wholesome’ heroics and fabled beasts, the emergence of these types of film ensured a no holds barred approach was the order of the day.

Graphic orgies, xxx hardcore inserts, bestiality, court skulduggery and blood thirsty perversion replaced the safety mood of 50’s/ 60’s peplum for an early 80’s European audience. Under the dark guidance of D’Amato he takes the shocks and adds his own unique atmosphere of nihilism and brutality.

The lead is played by David Brandon who pouts his way through the mis-en-scene. I wouldn’t compare him to Malcolm McDowell’s interpretation as although the content in plot is similar the actors and production values are not.

Brandon plays the mad Caesar with believable conviction murdering ruthlessly anyone who shows the slightest insubordination. Brandon on the whole seems more pervier than his predecessor and is more hands-on than Mcdowell.

Taking into consideration the actor probably had a little less to lose is perfectly understandable. I thought, in a certain light and angle, Brandon is more ‘fitter’ too. He comes across as an exploitational ‘Rupert Everett’ so all in all isn’t bad to look at and cuts the mustard thesp wise.

The lucky bugger has a roll around with Gemser too and although neither engage in the hardcore performs intensely erotic. My ideal threesome?

The delectable nymph Laura Gemser, turns up as a retributive moor woman intent on Caligula’s demise after his ruthless rape and murder of her close friend.

Gemser also adds warmth and mood to the show as well as a grace on screen, perfectly counteracting some of the rough and tumble elements she is embroiled in or privy too.
Gabriele Tinti her real life husband, also stars as Marcellus Agrippa and loses none of his charisma even though his role is non-Emanuelle orientated.

I like Tinti, I think he’s cool. I feel his 70’s ‘flim-flam’ panache was so important to the black Emanuelle genre but as the emphasis was mostly on Laura, I feel he plays second fiddle and his contribution can be overlooked at times. When you think of it he appeared in the majority of Gemsers’ outings so in my opinion deserves just as much kudos.

In the opening montage of sequences we get a feel of what is to come as Livia, a pure Christian virgin is violated and murdered by dagger via Caligula. This is witnessed by her boyfriend who also gets the sword in the gut treatment.

This is a major error that starts the demise of the Caesar. Livia is a well respected citizen of the Moor and Christian faith communities and her boyfriend was the son of a powerful senator. To get out of the shit Caligula blames the massacre on the Christians but due to their gentle nature (???) this is disputed.

Miriam, a close friend of Livias’ wants to get the truth and seek revenge for her death. After offering her virginity to a god, courtesy of an ebony dildo, she then infiltrates the Roman palace to find out who the culprit was and annihilate him.

She soon wises up to the fact that it was the Caesar himself. She gets put on the whore A-list and attends a lavish orgy where she seduces the nutty emperor. Caligula, who becomes besotted, is totally unaware that she will be in fact his nemesis.

Like the original movie we then witness a spiral delirium until justice prevails against a backdrop of madness, intrigue, treachery, crimson splatter and hardcore sex and violence.

D’Amato does what he does best and brings us a platter of debauchery. The orgies feature xxx fellatio and penetration, wild gourmand experiences filled of vomit, fornication and dwarves (yes they do appear the same size in other areas despite the stature).

The most notorious, but not that graphic, is the horse wank sequence. Just when you thought you had enough of Pedro he crops up again, sexually tended to by a harsh looking slut.

In one hilarious sequence where the women are being harvested for the grand banquet this poor lass pleads with the transvestite recruiter that she can take part in the orgy. ‘I’ll do anything’, she says, ‘o.k. - horse and dogs’ is the reply, in a weird way I kind of felt a bit sorry for her.

How the octogenarian got into the orgy proceedings over her is beyond me, I felt queasier seeing the old woman get her rocks off with a young roman than the horse sequence itself to tell the truth. Pure adult freak shows!

Caligula 2 has something for everybody and doesn’t seem to want to calm down either. Other jaw drops on display are the sword up the rectum and out of the chest sequence where a family head is cruelly slaughtered for pissing off the Caesar, then the family takes their turn and much of the same grimness ensues.

A novel way of dealing with vestal virgins is another sleazy sequence and poor Demitius’ (played by future Italian horror director Michele Soavi) demise involving a tongue cutting and a tendon slicing also makes you wince.Though his attentiveness by the well endowed and aptly named Cliz('ts)ia is a worthy distraction it must be said.

Another very bloodthirsty but enjoyably twisted piece of direction have the guests and the orgy participants going about their usual bodily fluid exchanges whilst two gladiators fight. The gladiators have a spiked glove each and proceed to beat the shit out of each other for the guests’ enjoyment.

As the attendees gorge and generally act depraved they are intermittently splashed with gouts of blood as every blow creates a paint brush flick of crimson. The guests carry on regardless, a perfect marriage of sex and violence that delights the exploitation hound and more than likely the director, but would have moral, bleeding hearts in a total lather.

Despite the gruel Caligula 2 manages to be highly watchable and addictive viewing just like its infamous father. It has a skill of enthralling you as to what might happen on screen next.

As soon as this film was in the can the sets were used for two hardcore pornos’ also shot by D’amato using the same performers, ‘Messalinas’ Imperial Orgasm’ and ‘The Virgin of Imperial Rome’. What an entrepreneur this guy was !!

Despite the cost cuts the sets and costumes don’t look cheap fortunately and really this is the only thing it lacks when compared to the original understandably so without Penthouse’s backing.

This isn’t crude trash just exploitation done well based on history. For crude trash I would favour checking what’s playing at your local cinema currently, there seems to be these by the bucket loads.

I can safely say avoid the region 1 version, all hardcore footage and other controversial footage has been omitted.

I cannot wait for the day Synapse / Blue Underground genre-dedicated companies can get their mitts on this for distribution. Despite the region 1 edition hinting that this version is full length on the cover, this is in fact utter bollocks.

You are presented with the cut 101 minute dub in comparison to the 125 minute German buy. Unfortunately as in the original merciless hack, by removing certain footage dumbs down the impetus of the narrative. It cruelly reduces the proceedings down to mediocre costumed melodrama proving the sex and violence are imperative additions to the plot.

Historically Rome was one of the most sophisticated but bloodthirsty and sexually liberated of societies my argument is – why can’t it be seen as such irrespective of un-admirable intention?

Remember they (Intermedia video) comment on the ‘unrated’ edition on the DVD not an uncut and uncensored edition. With the dubious, for a film of reasonable scarcity, price tag of bargain basement status, I really didn’t anticipate very much in the first place.

The print quality is crap too, taken from a fuzzy, washed out VHS copy, clumsily transferred with the eyes on the dimes than on the customer.

The best version to see is the region 2 limited edition disc set courtesy of X Rated Kult Video in Germany who has brought us a scrumptious print with all the naughty and violence intact. This can be procured on this link.

The edition is a 2 disc set and despite the pull on the on the purse strings is a worthwhile purchase.

Never expect to see this in the u.k and even when it eventually does surface the print will be as violated and hacked up by our strict censors as any Roman citizen in the plot ever was.

Remember with this one, buy German, buy tamper free – thank you for that. You have made a legion of fans very happy indeed.


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