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Ancient Rome: Caligula (Gino Turini) is the most dangerous caesar the
Roman Empire has ever seen. He loves to execute his enemies, or even
people he doesn't like very much, he loves to throw orgies, especially
when he gets to rape someone, males and females alike, he has the habit of
burning down city blocks just to calm his paranoia, and above all he loves
to remain unpredictable. Then though, he sees a woman, Messalina (Betty
Roland), defeat and castrate a gladiator in the arena, and that turns him
on. It turns him even more on when she doesn't give herself up to him
right away (she does however seduce one of his slaves behind his back),
and thus the two soon become a couple - just like her mother had planned
when she trained her to be a gladiator from an early age onwards.
though, Caligula is slaughtered by the senators who can no longer stand
his reign of terror. In Caligula's place, Claudius (Vladimir Brajovic) is
made caesar, a man who couldn't be more different from Caligula: He's a
man controlled by his mind rather than his sex drive (he's even impotent,
so no more imperial orgies), he doesn't have a mean bone in his body, and
he works to make his empire prosper, not himself. Somehow, Messalina
manages to become his lover, then wife. But while he's out to conquer
Britain, Messalina reintroduces orgies to the Roman upperclass, and she
sleeps with pretty much every man in town. She even bears a child while
Claudius is away, and it's biologically impossible that it's his, even if
he wasn't impotent ...
Messalina has one opponent, Agrippina (Francoise
Blanchard), who wants power as much as Messalina wants it, but is
not as ruthless as Messalina - but she's got one ace up her sleeve, she's
Claudius' own niece ... so eventually, she seduces her uncle, spills the
beans about all of Messalina's infidelities while he's been out conquering
Britain, and then sees to it that she's caught red-handed and killed ...
success of Tinto Brass's arthouse erotica Caligula spawned a whole
bunch of erotic-to-pornographic peplums with little artistic value - and
this is one of them, a film that reduces the story of Caligula and
Messalina to its erotic basics and shock value, fattened up with some
stock footage from genre films from 20 or so years earlier not always
woven into the proceedings all that elegantly. Thus there's tons of sex in
this one, quite a bit of violence and rapes, but little in terms of depth,
narrative ingenuity, aesthetic values or character development. Well, to
be honest, if you're into 1980's erotica that's quite a bit on the blunt
and ridiculous side, you'll find something to at least chuckle about here
... but it's not a particularly good film (let alone a lost or cult
classic) mind you.