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Eating Raoul [Criterion Collection] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78: 1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: LPCM 1.0
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: R
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • Blu-ray Release Date: September 25, 2012
  • List Price: $39.95

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:2.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:3.5/5]

In 1982, Paul Bartel created a dark comedy as an exercise in softcore pornography that takes direct aim at the swinging subculture of early ‘8o’s Southern California. Wine salesman Paul and his nurse wife Mary (Mary Woronov), a couple appropriately surnamed Bland, seek to escape their humdrum separate bed lives and start a restaurant. Their legitimate efforts to raise money for the prospective dining business encounter numerous snags including the theft of Paul’s valuable wines by a phony buyer, and a bank manager’s (Buck Henry) attempted rape of Mary when she applies for a loan.  n a moment of inspiration, following the Blands’ unintended murders of two oversexed intruders, the couple realizes that bumping off sex seekers offers the key to their future fortune. With the help of Doris the Dominatrix (Susan Saiger), Paul and Mary set up a home “sex emporium.” The Blands entice unsuspecting clients into their living room and, with their trusty frying pan, send them to their final reward. Along comes Raoul (Robert Beltran) a locksmith who sees the potential of a relationship with the Blands regarding both the disposal of bodies (I won’t give away the eventual fate of the deceased) and the acquisition of cash. The trio comes to a mutual business agreement but things get out of hand when Raoul and Mary become a bit too cozy. As regards the movie’s title? Revealed at the film’s conclusion, it is exactly what you think it is.  A simple story with few frills, Bartel’s direction and pacing are on the mark. Skirting the visual raunchiness of most porn flicks of this era, there is just enough for the eye to behold and the mind to fill in without belaboring the consuming theme of sex.

Video Quality

[Rating:3/5]


The original film was certainly no demonstration quality print but the restoration does a decent job of making it an acceptable watch.  The low-budget sets, wardrobes and props nicely convey the essence of 1980’s indie porn films. Detail is intermittently blurred but several scenes do offer remarkable clarity.

Audio Quality

[Rating:2.5/5]


Typical of this era, many soundtracks were recorded in plain old monaural sound. Dialogue is clear, and background music is boxy and rather flat. For viewers who might be accustomed to the world of softcore sex films, this less than high-resolution soundscape will seem perfectly appropriate.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3.5/5]


Eating Raoul presents a film genre different from those usually recast by the Criterion Collection. The extras in this package give us an intimate look into the life and career of the late actor/director Bartel who had a prolific film career in both capacities. Interviews with cast members like Mary Woronov who appeared in nearly 20 films with Bartel are particularly insightful.

  • A booklet with some inside information about film, cast, and credits and an essay by film critic David Ehrenstein.
  • Audio commentary with screenwriter Richard Blackburn, production designer Robert Schulenberg, and editor Alan toomayan.
  • The Secret Cinema and Naughty Nurse, two short films by Paul Bartel.
  • Cooking up Raoul: documentary about this film with interviews with Mary Woronov, Robert Beltran and Edie McClurg
  • Outtakes
  • Archival interviews with Bartel and Woronov
  • Trailer

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]


Eating Raoul is less about cannibalism than about a group of soulless characters bereft of values or self-control.  As Paul and Mary Bland become increasingly wrapped up in this world, we see Bartel’s creative genius at work. The “R” rating notwithstanding, Eating Raoul will not appeal to viewers who are readily offended by its portrayal of the sex for money business.  Yet, for those who see and appreciate black comedy, the progressive doing-in of swingers, including a Hugh Hefner clone (and a cameo by Ed Begley Jr as a drug-addled hippie), will tickle their collective fancies. The Criterion Collection often goes out on a limb in their choices of films that their engineering crew restores. Eating Raoul makes a good argument for trying out a movie that will be unfamiliar to many younger and even some veteran viewers.  Its tight construction and brisk pace results in frequent chuckles and occasional guffaws. Definitely worth a taste.

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase Eating Raoul [Criterion Collection] on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Eating Raoul

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

[amazon-product]B008CJ0JVQ[/amazon-product]

Purchase Eating Raoul [Criterion Collection] on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Eating Raoul

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:2.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]

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