If any of this is intriguing, the rest of the plot is much better left to the viewer to discover. Eating Raoul is kind of a like a less outrageous John Waters movie (think early Waters, i.e. Multiple Maniacs, Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble). Those with a taste for slightly bizarre comedy will likely find much to laugh at. I think the film probably seemed far more outré in 1982. Contemporary audiences are likely to find the whole thing a little quaint by today’s standards. Though it’s somewhat dark thematically, the movie is never mean-spirited and manages to maintain a fun, good-natured tone.
Criterion’s DVD edition includes an audio commentary by co-screenwriter Richard Blackburn, production designer Robert Schulenberg, and editor Alan Toomayan. The three were recorded together for a very chatty, often funny track that includes a great deal of insight and background. A 25-minute featurette “Cooking Up Raoul” includes new interviews with cast members sharing their recollections of making the film. The short gag reel is exactly what you’d expect and is actually pretty amusing. A pair of Bartel’s early short films, The Secret Cinema from 1966 and Naughty Nurse from ’69, offer additional, seldom-seen looks at the director’s work. The DVD booklet is cleverly designed to look like a menu for Paul and Mary’s restaurant, Country Kitchen.
Eating Raoul is a strange little comedy that has become inevitably less shocking in the 30 years that have passed since its original release. However, its anything-goes, unhinged style has kept it worth watching, especially for those with a taste for something a little different. Criterion’s extras-packed disc offers a perfect reason to revisit the Blands.