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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Eating Raoul (1982)

Eating Raoul (1982)

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Released 16-Aug-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Black Comedy Main Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer-DD2.0, 4:3, 1:41 minutes
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1982
Running Time 80:02 (Case: 83)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Paul Bartel

Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring Paul Bartel
Mary Woronov
Robert Beltran
Ed, Jr Begley
Buck Henry
Susan Saiger
Richard Blackburn
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI $32.95 Music Arlon Ober

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Screen, not known whether Pan & Scan or Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Firstly, in spite of what you may have heard or believed, this is NOT a film about cannibalism.

    Eating Raoul is a delightfully quirky, B-grade black comedy that is so fresh and innovative that you can't help but laugh at it. It portrays itself as a story of real America, L.A. style, with a prelude that displays some wonderful examples of social grossness that the USA seems so adept at. The plot revolves around John and Mary Bland (Paul Bartel, who also wrote and directed the film, and Mary Woronov), a married couple whose lives bring a new dimension to the meaning of their surname. Just check out their interior decorating style - their entire apartment is decked out in cheap 1950s goods, lent to them by Mary's mother "until she dies".

    John is an overweight, middle-aged balding wine seller, at least until he loses his job for telling his customers just how bad the most popular wine of the day is. Mary is a hospital nurse with a body that seems purpose-built for sex, and with a clothes sense that just makes things worse (just have a look at the outfit she wears to the interview with the bank loans manager). One problem that Paul and Mary share is a total disdain for sex. Another is that they dream of starting their own restaurant, despite being stone cold broke. These two are losers but nevertheless they're well meaning, and decry the loss of morals that seems to be engulfing society.

    One night a "swinger" from a party down the hall mistakenly walks in on Mary while she is alone in her apartment. Of course, he goes for Mary but before he can rip too many of her clothes off, Paul returns home and clobbers him over the head with a frying pan. His death just represents one less swinger and doesn't raise any ethical concerns amongst the Blands, apart from the practical problem of what to do with the body. However, it does yield the remarkable sum of 600 dollars from the swinger's wallet (it is well known that all swingers have professional, banking style jobs and always carry lots of cash). A second similar situation with another swinger sparks an idea for raising the cash the Blands require to finance the restaurant while at the same time cleaning up some of society's ills. The simple calm in which more and more deaths are planned and carried out, inevitably involving the frying pan, contributes much to the style of black humour shown in the film.

    Raoul (Robert Beltran) comes in upon this happy little venture with criminal schemes of his own only to realize that he can make far more money out of dead swingers than the mere cash they carry in their wallets, and he makes swinger recycling his full time occupation! The whole thing works like clockwork until financial deadlines force an increase in production, and the Blands make an absolute killing (literally) out of the entire guest list at a fancy Hollywood swingers' party.

    Inevitably, while all this is going on, Raoul starts falling for Mary but realizes that if he's going to be successful in the seduction he must get rid of Paul. The outworkings of this ultimately lead to the significance of the film's title. Of course, everything works out for the Blands - they get their restaurant, they keep their marriage, and decency reigns supreme.

    This film could have been a rather grisly experience. Instead it's a lighthearted and quirky story that simply defies criticism. The comedy works because of the straightness of the characters and the ridiculous contradictions that exist everywhere - the ultra-conservative couple who kill without ceremony or thought, the sexual dominatrix (Susan Saiger) who prepares cut lunches for her husband and young daughter in her oh-so-normal and nice suburban home, the entire mini-industry that builds up with not a second thought for the recycling of swingers and the private perversions of "respectable" people. The film is full of great one liners and little jokes that will take multiple viewings to appreciate. For example, we first get to see Raoul in a background "cameo" role as he's stealing a hi-fi system from the Blands' neighbour's apartment. Also, is that John Landis pinching Mary's backside as she walks into the bank? I first saw this film at the Dendy cinema almost 20 years ago, and to be honest I still can't fit it into any normal category of film!

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Transfer Quality


    Apparently Paul Bartel financed the film himself and only made it in piecemeal fashion, as and when he could afford it. It's good to see that such a thing is possible. However, the result is a film that lacks much in the way of production quality in terms of both picture and sound (look for the boom mike, always a sign of budget constraints, at 12:17 and again at 49:24 and 50:08). In a way, this almost heightens the enjoyment of the film by accentuating its difference from studio films.

    The disc presents the film in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio. I've been totally unable to determine if that was its original aspect ratio, although given its shoestring budget this might have been it.

    The picture exhibits considerable grain throughout its length. There's a good chance this is a function of the quality of film stock originally used. Contrast is excessive, probably for the same reason, with very poor resolution of shadow detail. The overall effect is one of harshness with an almost amateurish look to the production. The grain generates loss of sharpness in all images.

    Colour definition is likewise poor. Many colours, especially facial tones, are washed out and contribute to the harshness noted above. Darker scenes often lose even more and result in muddied and indistinct pictures. With one exception, in a scene beginning at 11:05 where the entire set is bathed in deep red, colours are severely undersaturated.

    I could detect no MPEG compression artefacts throughout the film, and only a single scene showing a mixture of aliasing and cross colouration on shirt material at 59:49. Unfortunately, the worst fault of the transfer is in the amount of film scratches and other marks including reel change marks, which are both continuous and reasonably heavy. I suppose the eye has a certain ability to ignore them after a short while, but it would be so much nicer if the print were cleaner.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The disc has a sole English soundtrack presented in Dolby Digital 2.0. Dialogue is never difficult to make out, but much of the sound does come across somewhat distorted. Thankfully, there are virtually no audio fireworks to further test the sound recording equipment. Audio sync never presents as a problem.

    The musical score is one of the real features of the film. With a steady mixture of 1920s style swing and 1950s sitcom straightness this does nothing but accentuate the quirkiness of the story and the characterizations.

    There is no surround activity of any kind and no low frequency sounds to even consider switching the subby on.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Main Menu Audio

        Provides a short loop from the musical score.

Theatrical Trailer

    Presented in full frame (4:3) format and Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. Running time is 1:41 minutes. This nicely complements the style and content of the film. Picture and sound quality are on a par with the feature. Interestingly, it is prefaced by a page of text that sets out the basic plot.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Although the disc is coded as multizone, it appears that it has yet to be released in the USA. As a result there is no comparison to be made here.


    Eating Raoul's M rating is well-deserved, given both the clear sexual references and the killing that it contains. The picture and sound quality would have to be described as sub-par. However, this is such a fun little film that will appeal to anyone with an open mind that those faults seem almost irrelevant. One day a better transfer might be available (a director's commentary would be a must have, if the sad early death of Bartel hasn't made such a thing impossible) but this disc will suffice in the meantime. As I said, I really can't figure it out, but I do enjoy it and look forward to many future viewings.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Murray Glase (read my bio)
Wednesday, January 03, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD-K310, using S-Video output
DisplayPioneer SD-T43W1 (125cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-D906S
SpeakersRichter Wizard (front), Jamo SAT150 (rear), Yamaha YST-SW120 (subwoofer)

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