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    Eating Raoul

    Force Entertainment/Force Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 83 mins . M15+ . PAL


    I always feel sorry for low-budget filmmakers. Their work rarely spends much time in the theatres and is invariably only seen on video, colouring our perceptions with a tawdy picture and muddy audio. A good DVD presentation of a cult film can really astound you - for example, I was very impressed with the video of Joe Dante's debut, Piranha, when I picked up the US DVD; it was head and shoulders above the VHS and TV prints I had seen up to that point.

    "We have medium, large and ALIEN"

    Paul Bartel's black comedy, Eating Raoul, is another film that could really do with a good DVD edition. I'd seen it several times when one of the networks filled a gap in their late-late-late night slots, and it's a great example of American farce done right (and farce it be, sirrah - virtually every male character here is a wannabe rapist, which I'm almost positive isn't true in real life...). Before I tell you whether Force have done the film justice, a bit about the plot.

    Bartel stars as Paul Bland, a wine enthusiast who, together with his wife Mary (Mary Woronov, of Andy Warhol's Factory), dreams of opening a restaurant. The problem is, he's just lost his job for refusing to sell rubbish wine to a customer, and the couple's dream location is on the market now. With the agent pressuring them to put the money down, the pair are desperately looking for a solution. Fortunately, one walks into their lives - a would-be partying swinger, showing up at the wrong apartment by mistake, makes the moves on Mary, and the couple are forced to kill him in self-defence.

    Around this time, locksmith/thief/entepreneur Raoul (ST: Voyager's Robert Beltran) enters the scene and convinces our heroes that offing swingers could be a very profitable business...


    The video transfer reflects the low budget of the film. The worst problem is the aspect ratio - the film has been presented in full-frame. This means we miss out on the benefits of anamorphic enhancement and also notice several instances of the boom mic entering the frame, which would normally be covered by the (presumably) 1.85:1 matting of the theatrical presentation. For me, this is reason enough to avoid picking up the disc, but real fans might be able to ignore the shoddy composition caused by this butchery.

    Harder to ignore, though, is the quality of the print. It seems to be a theatrical print, and a poor one at that, judging by the amount of damage it's suffered. The image is over-contrasted, with poor shadow detail. Sharpness is also mediocre, and the colours are muddy, washed out and indistinct. Overall, a very unimpressive effort.


    Despite being ostensibly a surround mix, the soundtrack is virtually mono in character. It's seen better days too, with scratchy sound and distortion on peaks, but it was obviously a poor production from the outset, with shabbily-recorded dialogue and an overall unnatural character.


    Extras? Bah! A single trailer is all we get.


    Another disappointing effort from Force Video, it must be said. I'm all for releasing cult titles, hell, I live for the things, but it's difficult to justify the cost of a DVD when such little effort seems to have gone into sourcing good prints to master onto disc. Criterion does a fantastic job with limited resources, and I can't see why Force can't do the same.

    Great film, poor disc. As much as it pains me, I'd recommend skipping this one as a purchase. Try to catch the film next time it gets placed in an undignified timeslot.

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=678
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      And I quote...
    "A cult classic farce, treated poorly with a transfer from shabby source material."
    - Paul Dossett
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Rom:
          Pioneer 103(s)
    • MPEG Card:
          RealMagic Hollywood Plus
    • TV:
          Mitsubishi Diva 33
    • Amplifier:
          Yamaha DSP-A1
    • Speakers:
          Richter Excalibur
    • Centre Speaker:
          Richter Unicorn
    • Surrounds:
          Richter Hydras
    • Audio Cables:
          Monster RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Monster s-video
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