Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Paul Bartel|
|Produced by||Anne Kimmel|
|Written by||Paul Bartel
Ed Begley, Jr.
|Music by||Arlon Ober|
|Edited by||Alan Toomayan|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
Eating Raoul is a 1982 black comedy film about a married couple living in Hollywood who resort to killing swingers for their money. It was directed by Paul Bartel and written by Bartel and Richard Blackburn. The writers also commissioned a single-issue comic book based on the film for promotion; it was created by underground comics creator Kim Deitch.
Paul Bland is a wine dealer and his wife, Mary is a nurse. The couple bemoan their low status in unsatisfying jobs, and dream of opening a restaurant. An exceptionally prudish couple, they sleep in separate beds and disapprove of sex, except for "a little hugging and kissing". After Paul is fired from his job at a wine shop, the couple are left with barely enough money to get by, and despair that that they will ever realize their dream. Their plight is exacerbated by the fact that they live in an apartment building that is a regular site of swinger parties, which they despise.
When a drunk swinger wanders into their apartment and tries to rape Mary, Paul furiously kills him by hitting him on the head with a heavy frying pan. They take his money and put him in the trash incinerator. Later, they kill another swinger in a similar fashion, and realize that they could make money by killing "rich perverts". They get advice on infiltrating the swinger community from one of the building's orgy regulars, Doris the Dominatrix. Mary lures men by promising to satisfy their sexual fetishes, and when they try to have sex with her, the otherwise timid Paul becomes alarmed enough to kill them with the frying pan.
After finding a flyer for cheap lock-installation on their car, they decide that for the safety of Paul's wine collection, to have a new lock installed on their apartment. The locksmith is Raoul Mendoza, who uses the service as a scam enabling him to rob the homes of his customers. Using his own key, he sneaks into the Blands' apartment the following night, and stumbles across the corpse of the Blands' latest victim, a Nazi fetishist. Paul catches Raoul, and with each in a compromising position, they strike a deal: Raoul will keep the Blands' secret and dispose of the bodies, which he says he can "exchange" for cash.
The Blands are surprisingly successful at their scheme. While attending a swinger party in search of victims, Paul loses his temper and throws a bug zapper into the hot tub, killing all of the party-goers at once. Suspicious of Raoul, Paul discovers that he has been selling the bodies to a dog food company, and – unbeknownst to Paul and Mary – selling the victims' expensive cars and keeping the money.
One night, Mary's client, Mr. Baker, doesn't show up, so Paul leaves to buy groceries (and a new frying pan, since Mary is "a bit squeamish about cooking with the one we use to kill people"), leaving her alone. However the client arrives late, refuses to accept Mary's protest that he missed his appointment, and tries to rape her. Raoul happens to arrive, and strangles the client with his belt. Raoul then offers Mary marijuana and they have sex.
They sleep together again, and Raoul tries to persuade Mary to run away with him. He tries to run Paul over with a car, who responds by hiring Doris the Dominatrix to use her costuming and role-playing experience help get rid of him. She poses as an immigration agent threatening Raoul with deportation, and a public health worker who gives him pills that are secretly saltpeter, to render him sexually impotent. These schemes don't work, and a drunken Raoul breaks into the Blands' apartment and threatens to kill Paul. He informs Paul that he and Mary will be getting married, and he takes Paul into the kitchen so that he and Mary can kill him together; instead, Mary kills Raoul with the frying pan.
Mary and Paul suddenly remember that their real estate agent (who is helping them buy their dream restaurant) is due to arrive soon for dinner. With no meat in the house, and little time before his arrival, they cook Raoul and serve him for dinner, describing the dish as "Spanish". The last shot of the film is a smiling Paul and Mary in front of their new restaurant, with the caption, "Bon Appétit."
- Paul Bartel as Paul Bland
- Mary Woronov as Mary Bland
- Robert Beltran as Raoul Mendoza
- Susan Saiger as Doris the Dominatrix
- Ed Begley, Jr. as Hippie
- Buck Henry as Mr. Leech (bank manager)
- Edie McClurg as Susan (woman in fur at swingers party)
- Richard Paul as Mr. Cray (liquor store owner)
- John Shearin as Mr. Baker
- Hamilton Camp as John Peck - Dishonest Wine Buyer
Woronov and Bartel later appeared together as Mary and Paul Bland in a cameo in the film Chopping Mall (1986). Woronov and Beltran appeared together again in Night of the Comet (1984), though not as their Eating Raoul characters; the two also starred together in Bartel's critically acclaimed follow-up feature Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills in 1989.
A sequel, entitled Bland Ambition, was planned. The script was written by Paul Bartel and Richard Blackburn. As described by Bartel:
[The film] starts with Paul and Mary Bland happily ensconced in their Country Kitchen, where they're doing a land-office business. The arrogant young Governor of California stops off to have lunch and is furious he is not recognized and permitted to jump the line. In retaliation, he sends a health inspector to close down the Country Kitchen, and Paul and Mary are encouraged by the media to retaliate in kind and run against him for Governor of California.
- "EATING RAOUL (X)". British Board of Film Classification. 1982-08-03. Retrieved 2012-11-05.
- "Eating Raoul - Box Office Data". The Numbers. Retrieved 26 July 2011.
- "EATING RAOUL (1982)". rottentomatoes.com. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2015-02-26.
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved August 23, 2017.
- Eating Raoul at the Internet Off-Broadway Database Archived 2015-05-21 at the Wayback Machine..
- "A thriving, extensive, or rapidly moving volume of trade."
- Lawrence Van Gelder (1989-07-14). "At the Movies". New York Times. Retrieved February 12, 2008.