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The Audiences

“Sequestrato il film ‘Caligola’ di Brass,” La Repubblica, Saturday, 17 November 1979:

[A young couple, 18 and 17, exit at the end.] “We felt so bad together,” she says. “But look, the film is just a piece of trash. I mean, it begins with Caligula but then it ends up with the doings at the Circeo Hotel...”

[Comments from a couple who walk out part-way through:] “It’s anti-æsthestic” he says. “You see, eroticism is good, but this is tasteless. It’s not up to the level of the red-light films, where we often go; that’s all there is to say.” “But what ever happened to that son of a bitch of Caligula — historically, I mean?” she angrily asks. “They tore him to shreds, dear, don’t worry.” “Ah,” she says, satisfied. And the two disappear into the darkening dusk.

Lou Gaul, “Take 3, Emphasis on Movies: ‘Caligula’ — Guccione’s Two-and-a-Half Hour Abomination of Moral Bankruptcy and Obscenity for Profit,” The [Doylestown PA] Daily Intelligencer, Friday, 23 May 1980, p 43:

The New York audience I saw it with gasped at some of the graphic scenes and showed its disgust for the film by hissing at the end.

Roger Ebert, “‘Caligula Is a Vile, Sickening and Shameful Piece of Trash,” Chicago Sun-Times Monday, 22 September 1980, p 31:

“This movie,” said the lady in front of me at the drinking fountain, “is the worst piece of s--- I have ever seen.”

Sebastian Cody, “Oh, Caligula!” The Tatler 275 no 11, October 1980, pp 80–81:

There was hissing at the end. [McDowell commented:] “But let me tell you: a taxi-driver nearly collapsed when I got into his cab. He had taken his wife to see the film ‘and that night she gave me the greatest time I’ve ever had — and I’ve been married twelve years.’ ”

Laura A Gutman, “Review Not Revealing Enough,” Albuquerque Journal Thursday, 16 October 1980:

Carole Mazur’s recent review of the film Caligula, showing at Don Pancho’s theater, sets forth a misrepresentation of that film which is likely to mislead people who might be interested in seeing it into thinking that Caligula is much less offensive than it really is.
   In her article, Ms. Mazur refers to not-too-explicit sex “sparsely sprinkled through the film.” She also tosses off a much too brief mention of the film’s violence, as if that violence were incidental only. This sort of a report can hardly prepare the unsuspecting viewer for the continuous barrage of orgies, mutilations, tortures, and murders that the movie has in store for him, all presented in color close-ups so clear he won’t miss a single pubic hair or drop of blood.
   In reviewing any film, but especially one as controversial as Caligula, a newspaper writer has a duty to let the public know what to expect. In underplaying the amount of explicit sex and sadistic violence in Caligula, Ms. Mazur has not fulfilled this duty.

John Burns, “Wowing ’em in Soho, Snow White,” Daily Express Friday, 31 October 1980:

“Rubbish,” said the man and his wife who forked out a tenner for a couple of seats in the dress circle.

“What was shocking about that?” asked [a] sad-eyed man....

“Well you wouldn’t call it sexy, would you?” said another....

Unblushing bride Stephanie Rewell-Darling, 30, opined: “It was great but there was perhaps a bit too much blood for me. I would have thought it was pretty accurate historically.”... Her husband — they married last week — Mike, added: “If you are looking for something offensive then don’t come.”

“About People,” Syracuse Herald-Journal Friday, 20 March 1981 p A-6:

People who don’t want to wait in line to see Bob Guccione’s controversial new film “Caligula” in Montréal are paying collegians to wait in line for them for $5 an hour to buy tickets.

“About People,” Syracuse Herald-Journal Monday, 20 April 1981 p A-12:

Belgian beauty Monique Van Vooren is having difficulty finding dates to take her more than once to see her favorite movie, “Caligula.” Monique... says she’s seen it seven times and always with a different man. “Many of my dates are upset about the violence,” she says....

BrooklynJim, “Roxy Theatre, 4642 Cass Street, San Diego, CA,” Cinema Treasures, 18 June 2006:

My wife and I attended “Caligula,” a true mish-mash of hype, history and porn. As a couple, it cost us $12 bucks for the privilege! There were lines around the block awaiting the next showing, so I put together a mock cloak, resurrected some of my previously-learned Latin (“Quotidianum da nobis hodie!” and “Mater Cæsaris erat meratrix!”), and walked among the eager throng while intoning pompously, “Caesar himself says to save six duckets [sic] (or denarii) and go get a pizza instead!” A few listened and actually dropped out of line. Ha!

Hans Sipma, “Protest,” City of Vancouver Archives, July 1981. Also posted on YouTube.

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