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A straight-laced couple starts murdering obnoxious sexual swingers to realize their dream of opening a restaurant.
For more about Eating Raoul and the Eating Raoul Blu-ray release, see Eating Raoul Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on September 13, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Mary Woronov, Paul Bartel, Edie McClurg, Buck Henry, Richard Paul, Allan Rich
Director: Paul Bartel
» See full cast & crew
Eating Raoul Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, September 13, 2012
Paul Bartel's "Eating Raoul" (1982) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on the disc include the film's original trailer; archival interview with director Paul Bartel and actress Mary Woronov; outtakes; director Paul Bartel's first two short films; audio interview with production designer Robert Schulenberg; and a brand new audio commentary with screenwriter Richard Blackburn, production designer Robert Schulenberg, and editor Alan Toomayan. The release also arrives with an illustrated booklet featuring an essay by film critic David Ehrenstein. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
The Blands are a couple like most every other couple in America - they have a dream and need money to make it a reality. Mary (Mary Woronov) is a nurse. Paul (Paul Bartel) is a wine salesman. They are happy with each other but are unhappy with their neighbors. There is a good reason why - their building is full of swingers.
One day, a horny man enters the Blandsďż˝ apartment and tries to rape Mary. Paul kills him with a frying pan. After he discovers that the dead man was carrying a lot of money, Paul comes up with a brilliant plan - attract rich perverts, kill them and take their money. Then use the money to put a down payment on that property in the suburbs which he and Mary have been eyeing for years. Paul knows that there is no way the plan wouldn't work because their building is like a train station - perverts come and go all the time. There must be hundreds of thousands more in LA, all of them potential customers. Mary likes the idea a lot and the two visit Doris the Dominatrix (Susan Saiger) for a professional advice. Then they place an ad in a local magazine. The ad is simple: If you can imagine it, the Blands are doing it.
The response to the ad is overwhelming. There are so many potential customers that Paul and Mary can actually afford to pick the ones they like. They bring them to their place, Mary entertains them for a few minutes and then Paul goes to work with the frying pan. Quick, easy and reliable business - like shooting fish in a barrel. If Paul would have thought of it a year earlier, right now he and Mary could have been in their dream restaurant, serving their clients food and drinks.
While taking a break from work, Paul and Mary meet Raoul (Robert Beltran), a handsome locksmith. They ask him to fix the old lock on their apartment door. He asks them to make him a partner. If they do, he will sell the bodies of their customers to a friend and they will double their profit. If they don't, he will drive to the local police station and have a chat with the boys in blue.
Paul, Mary and Raoul begin working together. They also spend time together when they aren't working. Mary and Raoul also spend time together when Paul isn't around. This creates a problem, which Paul vows to fix as quickly and effectively as possible.
Paul Bartel's Eating Raoul is three things every great black comedy should be: dark, very bold and intelligent. Unsurprisingly, the film hits all of its targets with impressive authority, from America's attitude towards sex to its stranger attitude towards morality and race to its obsession with financial success. What is disappointing about it is that it should feel at least a little dated - because it was made back in 1982 and because presumably a lot in America must have changed since then. It does not. The hairstyles look dated and folks like Paul no longer have to leave their homes to purchase their favorite adult toys, but people's attitudes and reactions are still very much the same as the ones witnessed in Eating Raoul.
Bartel and Richard Blackburn's script is fantastic. The dialog is full of terrific one-liners that are both hilarious and thought-provoking. Because of the great dialog even the most politically incorrect and 'disgusting' sequences never feel offensive. However, an open mind is definitely required to appreciate the writers' unique sense of humor.
There is a good dose of improvising, but balance is maintained throughout the entire film. Also, unlike other similarly themed films, it never feels like Eating Raoul is a series of episodes, each climaxing with a dull joke.
Because of the great finale, I have to assume that this is one of Dr. Lecter's favorite films.
Eating Raoul Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Paul Bartel's Eating Raoul arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
There are major improvements in every single area that we typically address in these reviews. Definition and depth are often terrific (see screencapture #5) and contrast levels have been stabilized. On the R1 DVD release of the film which Sony Pictures produced back in 2004 many of the darker scenes convey light macroblocking patterns, but none are visible here. The best news, however, is that there are absolutely no traces of excessive degraining and sharpening. As a result, from start to finish the film has a very solid organic look. The high-deifnition transfer is also free of edge-flicker and other serious purely transfer specific anomalies (banding and aliasing). There are no serious stability issues to report in this review either. To sum it all up, this is a competent, all-around solid presentation of Eating Raoul that should please fans of the film who have been waiting to replace their DVDs. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Eating Raoul Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: English LPCM 1.0. For the record, Criterion have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
There are no serious technical issues with the lossless track to report in this review. The audio has a good dynamic range and is free of problematic hiss, pops and cracks. Also, there are no audio dropouts and distortions. The dialog is crisp, clean, stable, and well balanced with Arlon Ober's soundtrack.
Eating Raoul Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Eating Raoul Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The cult status of Paul Bartel's Eating Raoul is well deserved. This is a bold and very intelligent dark comedy that is both entertaining and thought-provoking. The thinking mind will love it. The two shorts included with this release are also very good. As expected, Criterion's presentation of Eating Raoul is excellent. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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