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Eating Raoul
Eating Raoul
Actors: Mary Woronov, Paul Bartel, Robert Beltran, Susan Saiger, Lynn Hobart
Director: Paul Bartel
Genres: Comedy, Horror
R     2004     1hr 30min

The Blands are a couple living in swinging Los Angeles with their ultra-conservative ways. They find it hard to live life in the midst of all of the completely obnoxious swinging bachelors. Their dreams of running a small ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Mary Woronov, Paul Bartel, Robert Beltran, Susan Saiger, Lynn Hobart
Director: Paul Bartel
Creators: Paul Bartel, Gary Thieltges, Alan Toomayan, Anne Kimmel, Richard Blackburn
Genres: Comedy, Horror
Sub-Genres: Comedy, Horror
Studio: Sony Pictures
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 04/13/2004
Original Release Date: 03/24/1982
Theatrical Release Date: 03/24/1982
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 30min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 4
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, French
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Movie Reviews

"Tasty Comedy of Bad Manners" Gets a Mediocre DVD Treatment
Michael R Gates | Nampa, ID United States | 04/19/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The 1982 low-budget outré comedy EATING RAOUL from writer/director Paul Bartel, who also stars, is an outrageously funny satire that needles such diverse elements of American culture as the concept of The American Dream, high-society status symbols, overzealous capitalism, racial stereotyping, and sexually deviant subgroups.Paul and Mary Bland (Bartel and Mary Woronov) are a conservative, happily married middle-class couple who share an interest in fine wine, good food, and sexual repression. They also share entrepreneurial dreams of opening their own restaurant for epicures. Unfortunately, the Blands are flat broke. Paul is an unemployed wine connoisseur, and Mary only makes a pittance working as a Nurse's Aide. To make matters worse, the building they want to purchase for their restaurant has also caught the eye of another buyer, so if Paul and Mary don't raise the $20,000 down quickly, they'll watch their hopes and dreams turn to dust.Things actually take a turn for the better one evening when a "swinger" mistakes their apartment for the location of a wife-swapping party and elbows his way inside. Assuming that Paul and Mary are the party's hosts, the horny gent tries to put the make on Mary, and in a passionate, knee-jerk response, Paul beans the guy with a frying pan and kills him. Examining the body, the two discover hundreds of dollars in cash. Surmising that all swingers must carry large sums of money, Paul and Mary employ the personal ads to lure horny men to their apartment, after which they off 'em, take their money, then dispose of the bodies in their apartment building's communal trash compactor. Now their dream finally seems to be within their grasp.Enter the titular Raoul (Robert Beltran, later a regular on TV's STAR TREK: VOYAGER). A two-bit con artist and thief, Raoul stumbles upon the Blands' murder-for-money scheme and demands a piece of the action. Oddly, he doesn't want any of the victims' money; he only wants the cadavers. It seems he knows where he can sell 'em, and he makes so much from each sale, in fact, that he offers to share HIS earnings with the Blands.At first, the arrangement with Raoul works well, and the Blands are pretty close to having that down payment. But when Raoul decides that he also wants a share of MARY, it's up to Paul to devise a way to remove the small-time grifter from the picture without losing his wife or endangering their culinary aspirations.Robert Beltran, in the eponymous role, marks his first major film appearance with EATING RAOUL. Although his part is obviously a satirical caricature of Anglo misperceptions and misconceptions about Hispanic and Latin folks, Beltran creates a remarkable portrait of the sleazy, opportunistic Raoul and avoids delivering a mere parody.Pretty, quirky Mary Woronov--once a favorite of artist/filmmaker Andy Warhol during the 1960s--is a pure delight in the role of Mary Bland. She portrays Mary with just the right mix of restraint and flakiness, being very careful not to take the character too far over the top and risk losing audience sympathy. While not curvaceous or large-bosomed like the stereotypical porn queen, Woronov has a subtle, natural sexuality that makes her few nude scenes in EATING RAOUL very sensuous and erotic. Heterosexual male viewers have no problem understanding why all the men in the film desire Mary.Writer/director Paul Bartel is perfect as the pitiful, lethargic pseudo-intellectual Paul Bland. One would never expect a wimp like Paul Bland to murder somebody, not even in defense of his wife, which makes it all the funnier when Paul develops an indignant pugnacity and DOES start whacking the victims. A talented comic thespian, Bartel pulls this all off with a straight face and avoids pushing it to the point of camp.In addition to the wonderful performances of the three principals, there are also some notable cameo appearances. Comedy writer Buck Henry--known to most viewers as a writer/co-creator of TV's classic sitcom GET SMART--appears as a slimy bank officer appropriately named Mr. Leech. Ed Begley, Jr., shows up as a wannabe hippie; improv great Edie McClurg can be seen hamming it up at a wife-swapping party; prolific character actor Allan Rich has a bit as a gent with a Nazi fetish; and director John Landis makes a very brief (and uncredited) appearance at a sex party.Yes, EATING RAOUL jumps back and forth across the line that divides mainstream comedy from avant-garde satire, especially by the standards of the era in which it was originally released. But it's difficult to dislike this sardonic, satirical, low-budget dark comedy. In spite of the Blands' murderous exploitation of unwary members of the "swinging" subculture, viewers tend to identify with the couple and feel an inexplicable desire to see them realize their epicurial dream. And this emotional ambivalence seems to make the film all the more humorous and enjoyable. In a way, perhaps, it's even cathartic.The Columbia/Tri-Star DVD release of this delightful satire is a bit disappointing. Though offered in an anamorphic widescreen format, the digital transfer has many noticeable flaws. There are a few times when the image warbles or shakes (especially perceptible on a sizable HDTV monitor), and throughout the movie there are spots where the image seems excessively blurry. There are also numerous scratches, hairs, and filmic artifacts. Considering that EATING RAOUL has attained the status of cult classic, the flick deserves a higher-quality DVD release. Also, it would've been nice if the disc had included some bonus material, like maybe a commentary track featuring Mary Woronov and Robert Beltran.The bottom line: The film EATING RAOUL deserves 5 stars; the DVD treatment only 3. The 4-star rating, then, is the average of the two. Longtime fans of the flick will want a copy for their DVD collections, as the disc IS better than the previously released VHS versions. But uninitiated viewers should wait for a higher-quality DVD release."
AVOID: Bad Transfer
Scott Robinson | New York, NY USA | 04/20/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)

"This long awaited DVD is an incredible disappointment. The major problem that makes this unwatchable is that somehow this movie has been stretched horizontally to fit a widescreen TV. The result makes everything look distorted. I don't know what the original aspect ratio was but this presentation is an abomination. I tried running it on my computer software to manually adjust the picture dimensions. The film does appear to be wider than the standard screen size but not the ratio as presented on this DVD.And to top it off the print appears to be something of the VHS quality (i.e. poor) with color and resolution deficiences. There appears to be a gash in the screen as if the video was shot from a movie screen with a tear in the top middle. The sound appears to have been mono that someone has doctored up by added fake stereo and reverb, then steering the dialog from side to side. Warning: Listening to this may cause sea sickness.Sony should be sued for selling this junk. I probably will be returning my copy. One thing for sure: if you are unable to manually adjust the aspect ratio with a computer, do not buy this. I will be anxiously waiting for this to be remastered - this is a good and funny film."
Movie 5 stars, DVD 0 stars
Obscure author | Oregon | 08/22/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)

"The DVD version forces the film into the widescreen 1:1.85 format. The original was almost certainly shot in 1:1.33, 1:1.66 at most. This has the effect of compressing the image and making everyone appears shorter. This is a VERY annoying feature.

Still, the movie itself is a cult masterpiece."
Great movie, horrible DVD
Jeffrey Leach | Omaha, NE USA | 01/21/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Talk about cult classics! Paul Bartel's darkly hilarious "Eating Raoul" was the first cult film I ever saw, way back in the early 1980s when the miracle that is cable television arrived at the house. I sat in openmouthed wonder as the movie unfolded, barely believing my eyes were seeing the twisted hijinks floating by onscreen. It's largely due to "Eating Raoul" that I became a Mary Woronov fan, and I also learned to appreciate as well as seek out any films made by Paul Bartel. He's an interesting guy, a man that looks like one of your balding uncles or an out of shape next-door neighbor, but he has a warped sense of humor that fits in well with 1970s low budget cinema. Audiences probably know Bartel, if they know him at all, for several films he made for Roger Corman in the 1970s: "Death Race 2000" and "Cannonball." These two films couldn't be more different in subject matter and tone than "Eating Raoul." The two Corman films deal with car races, crashes, and bloody violence. "Eating Raoul" is subtler, funnier, and much darker. Sadly, Paul Bartel passed away a few years ago from complications arising from liver cancer. His loss robbed us of a unique humor, as well as any hope that he and Woronov would reprise their roles in a sequel to this film.

"Eating Raoul" introduces us to two of the most boring individuals on the entire planet, Paul and Mary Bland. They dream of opening their very own restaurant, a dining establishment that will allow them to hobnob with society's elites. Heck, they consider themselves to be elites even though Paul has trouble holding down a job and Mary works as a nurse. After Paul loses his latest position as a clerk at a liquor store--a hilarious scene indeed--it seems as though the restaurant will never become a reality. They can't even get a bank loan since Mary brutally rebuffed the advances of loan officer Mr. Leach (Buck Henry). Then the two stumble upon an excellent way to make money. The apartment building the couple lives in is a place where residents continually throw wild parties that draw all sorts of immature people. One of them bursts into the Bland apartment and starts to make quite a fuss, so much so that Paul conks him on the head with a huge frying pan. The Blands feel horrible about the accidental killing until they find a huge wad of money in the guy's wallet. What if the couple lured strangers over to the apartment, killed them, and then robbed them of their money? That restaurant sure would become a reality much quicker, that's for sure.

But how will the Blands lure total strangers into their apartment without arousing suspicion? Well, it's rather easy when you live in Los Angeles. All you have to do is put an advertisement in a newspaper aimed at singles and the people beat down your door. Of course, the scheme requires Mary to dress up in some rather imaginative costumes and engage in highly charged dialogues with these clients, but all she has to do is keep the game going long enough for Paul to charge in and perform his magic with the frying pan. Mary and Paul get rid of all sorts of riffraff in this manner, including a hippie played by Ed Begley, Jr. The two even begin to believe they are doing society a favor by ridding it of such despicable human beings. Then a problem strolls in through the front door in the shape of a locksmith named Raoul (Robert Beltran). He quickly learns about the couple's seamy activities, but rather than turn them in he soon joins forces with them. Thanks to Raoul the Blands soon make a bit more money selling the clothing and the bodies of their victims. But Raoul has designs on Mary, and he also cheats the couple of their ill-gotten gains. At some point Paul and Mary must heal their relationship while simultaneously defending their treasure from the wily Raoul.

Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov provide "Eating Raoul" with its greatest strengths. Both of them play their characters so straight and on the level that it's hilarious to watch them take part in such extreme activities. "Square" is a word that doesn't do enough to describe these two; they wear matching pajamas to bed--single beds, that is. The film's funniest scenes occur near the end, when Paul and Mary attend a swank party hosted by a guy played by radio personality Don Steele. The double entendres fly fast and furious at this party until Paul and Mary can't stand it anymore. They dispatch the partygoers by tossing an electrical device into the hot tub, then sell off their cars and other valuables. As shocking as these scenes are, what is more shocking is seeing veteran character actress Edie McClurg turn up as an airhead engaged in a number of unusual peccadilloes. While I think parts of the film don't survive the test of time all that well, "Eating Raoul" is still such a darkly humorous film that the central themes easily overcome outdated clothing and set pieces. I wonder if there is a link between this film and the economic policies of recently elected Ronald Reagan?

The DVD version is horrible. While we get trailers for "Big Shot's Funeral," "Dark Crystal," and "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," there are no other extras. Worse, the transfer is one of the worst I have seen on DVD. It looks like a compression problem, or a problem with the aspect ratio, wasn't fixed during the transfer. Most of the film looks squashed, for lack of a better term, and it's a most annoying problem that takes away from the viewing experience. Fix the DVD, give us a special edition, and I'll pick up a copy soon. You should, too.