Paul (writer/director Paul Bartel) and Mary (Mary Wornov) Bland have dreams of opening a restaurant. Even though the couple is relatively boring, theyíre aspirations remain high, and even if funding options are limited that doesnít stop them from hoping for the best. Through a series of bizarre events, the pair discovers that sexually promiscuous swingers are the perfect ingredient to make their dreams come true, thus beginning a murderously delectable feeding frenzy pushing the boundaries of good taste to their succulent breaking point.
Eating Raoul, co-written by director Paul Bartel and Richard Blackburn, is one of the great black comedies of all-time. Released in 1982, the movie has over the last 30 years become something of a cult sensation thatís taken on a life entirely its own. Often imitated, never duplicated, this superior effort is the high water mark for Bartel, and as great as some of his other efforts were, most notably Death Race 2000, nothing can prepare one for just how viciously incisive this gloriously grisly social commentary turns out to be.
The ace in the hole, of course, is one-time Andy Warhol stalwart and comedic superstar Mary Wornov. She owns this movie like you wouldnít believe, dominating nearly every moment with a performance as legendary as it is perfect. She makes you laugh out loud, catch your breath and shriek in disbelief, balancing on the emotional tightrope Bartel and Blackburn have constructed for her with dexterous ease.
It is amazing that a movie, so obviously commenting on the early years of the Reagan presidency in which it was made, has held up so gosh darn well over these past three decades. Yet even though the pair is targeting swingers, even though there is a high yuppie quotient in regards to some of the more pointed jabs and gags, much of what this movie is talking about, its commentary on consumerism and materialism, itís look at politics and commercialization, is just as poignant and potent now as it ever was back in 1982. Like all great satire the jokes hold up, some of the more prescient aspects of the scenario almost mind-boggling in their far-reaching foresight.
A case could be made that some aspects of Eating Raoul havenít aged particularly well, that some portions of the humor arenít as pointed are as properly targeted as they potentially could have been. But considering how many movies, television series, filmmakers and satirists have used this film for inspiration, taking into account how many imitators there have been over the decades, Bartelís signature achievement remains nothing less than a rightly considered classic. It goes for the jugular and takes no prisoners, delivering a closing coda as deliciously bleak as any ever put to film.
Eating Raoul is presented on a dual-layer 50GB Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video with a 1.78:1/1080p transfer. As stated in the included booklet: ďSupervised by director of photography Gary Thietges, this new digital transfer was created in 2K resolution on a DFT SCANITY film scanner from the original camera negative. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter and flicker were manually removed using MTIís DRS and Pixel Farmís PFClean, while Image Systemsí DVNR was used for small dirt, grain and noise reduction.Ē
Eating Raoul comes to Blu-ray in English LPCM Mono and includes optional English subtitles. Again, from the included booklet: ďThe original monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the original 35mm magnetic tracks. Clicks, thumps, hiss and hum were manually removed using Pro Tools HD. Crackle was attenuated using AudioCubeís integrated workstation.Ē
∑ Audio commentary featuring screenwriter Richard Blackburn, production designer Robert Schulenberg and editor Alan Toomayan
∑ Paul Bartel Short Films
i. The Secret Cinema (1966) (27:12)
ii. Naughty Nurse (1969) (8:56)
∑ Cooking Up Raul (24:27)
∑ Gag Reel / Outtakes (5:46)
∑ Archival Interview with Paul Bartel and Mary Wornov (21:14)
∑ Original Theatrical Trailer (1:47)
The Blu-ray also comes with a menu-style Illustrated Booklet featuring an essay by film critic David Ehrenstein.
Eating Raoul is a deliciously macabre black comedy that hasnít lost any of its flavor over the past 30 years. Criterionís Blu-ray presentation is close to perfection, the final product a succulent Blue Plate special any cinematic chef would be happy to call their own.