Nero and Poppea – An Orgy of Power comes from a genre of film that doesn’t exist much anymore. I guess you could call it Romanspolitation or Nerospolitation or Caligulaploitation, films that came in the wake of Tinto Brass’ 1979 Caligula. Movies that took that piece of exploitation and said, “I can do it better.” Those folks who loudly screamed that included Joe D’Amato, whose Caligula… The Untold Story has an uncensored edition with animal/human fondling and unsimulated sex, and our friend Bruno Mattei, who not only made this movie, but also Caligula and Messalina a year before this film was made.
Also known as Caligula Reincarnated As Nero, this is Mattei at the unhinged level you expect from him, throwing copious male and female nudity at you, the viewer, along with Christians being devoured by lions, plenty of torture, incest and, in case you were getting bored, a graphic castration scene which would mark literally the third Mattei movie in a row that I’ve seen where someone’s gherkin gets pickled.
How do you know this is a Bruno Mattei movie? Is it the rampant thievery of peblum footage from Goliath Against the Giants and The Last Days of Pompeii? Or perhaps it’s hearing the very same voiceover artists who dubbed those movies in the 50’s and 60’s having to say scatological dialogue? Or by having Antonio Passalia — the film’s co-director — play Claudius in his second Mattei opus in a row?
I watched this with some equal parts shame and fascination, but by the end of an entire week of nothing but Bruno’s movies, I really do feel like Max Ren looking for the next video drug to feed into my brain.