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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Eating Raoul (1982)

"Do you think you could buy another frying pan? I'm just a little squeamish about cooking in the one we're using to kill people."
- Mary Bland (Mary Woronov)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: April 12, 2004

Stars: Mary Woronov, Paul Bartel, Robert Beltran
Other Stars: Ed Begley Jr., Buck Henry, Edie McClurg, Susan Saiger
Director: Paul Bartel

Manufacturer: DVSS
MPAA Rating: R for (language, violence, sexuality, sexual perversity, nudity)
Run Time: 01h:23m:27s
Release Date: April 13, 2004
UPC: 043396031531
Genre: black comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

The genre of black comedy is sometimes a little tough to define, but like pornography I know it when I see it. And there's no disputing that it's the appropriate category for Paul Bartel's Eating Raoul, the poster child for black comedy and sick and twisted humor.

Paul and Mary Bland (director/screenwriter Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov) dream of a little restaurant in the country, since they're revolted by the Hollywood swinger scene. Unable to get a loan for their business, they hit on the idea of luring swingers to them with S&M ads, then killing and robbing their victims. Things go well until locksmith Raoul (Robert Beltran) learns their secret. Raoul not only cuts himself in on a piece of the action, but has designs on Mary.

Despite the lurid subject matter, ranging from sadomasochism and golden showers to murder for profit to cannibalism, Eating Raoul has an unmistakable innocence to it; the leads are completely deadpan, as is Donna the Dominatrix (Susan Saiger), who helps them get started in the sex industry. The result is a charming juxtaposition of sleaze and cherubic joyfulness. The script in particular is well-crafted, with plenty of quotable dialogue running throughout.

The leads are perfectly suited to the combination of narrow-minded suburbia and willingness to do anything for a buck. Beltran in particular is right on the money as the opportunistic Raoul. Many noted comic actors make cameo appearances, including the always entertaining Buck Henry and Edie McClurg.

The pacing is brisk, and there's seldom a dull moment. Anyone with a slightly off-kilter sense of humor will find quite a lot to like in this picture.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Although the film is encoded as anamorphic widescreen, I'm not convinced that it was done quite right. When viewed on an anamorphic display, the picture looks horizontally stretched so that everyone appears very squat and pudgy; it seems much closer to correct when the anamorphic enhancement is shut off and the film is played in full frame 1.33:1 mode. In support of this theory, irises that plainly are in intended to be circular are instead ovoid when viewed anamorphically; they are circular only if the aspect ratio is reduced to about 1.5:1. I tried it on several players and had the same result, but on a DVD/ROM it looked fine. That difference in appearance might be attributable to the much smaller size on the computer screen.

In any event, the heavy grain is poorly rendered and looks sparkly. There's a good deal of edge enhancement providing false detail. Colors are acceptable for the most part, but reds and oranges are badly oversaturated and blocky; during the opening titles the reds are smeary as well. The source print isn't in the best of shape, with moderate dirt and speckling present throughout. Pixelation is also evident on a regular basis.

Image Transfer Grade: D+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: The sound, on the other hand, is quite good, with a nice 2.0 mix giving a broad soundstage, with music in the surrounds. There's a little bit of noise present, but since this was low budget it can hardly be a point of criticism. Dialogue is clear throughout, and the music doesn't suffer from distortion and has very good range and presence.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Big Shot's Funeral, Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Other than two unrelated trailers, there's nothing much here for extras.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

Sex and murder are the basis for a ton of comedy in this sharp classic of dark humor. Unfortunately, the transfer's somewhat shabby and there's little for extras. A terrific movie but a pretty disappointing release.


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