Eating Raoul

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Eating Raoul
Eating Raoul FilmPoster.jpeg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Paul Bartel
Produced by Anne Kimmel
Written by Paul Bartel
Richard Blackburn
Starring Paul Bartel
Mary Woronov
Robert Beltran
Susan Saiger
Ed Begley Jr.
Buck Henry
Music by Arlon Ober
Cinematography Gary Thieltges
Edited by Alan Toomayan
Films Incorporated
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
  • March 24, 1982 (1982-03-24)
Running time
83 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $350,000
Box office $1,114,825[2]

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 comix 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 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 hits him on the head with a heavy frying pan, unintentionally killing him. 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. The Blands are surprisingly successful at their scheme.

After finding a flyer for cheap lock-installation service on their car, they decide, 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.

One night, Mary's client 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. 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.

Raoul and Mary 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.

Paul and Mary are in danger of losing the property they wish to buy for the restaurant to another buyer. They need to increase the scale of the operation and attend 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, enabling Paul and Mary to take all the money and sell the party-goers' cars.

A drunken Raoul breaks into the Blands' apartment and threatens to kill Paul for not sharing the money from the sale of the cars, and because he wants Mary for himself. He informs Paul that he and Mary will be getting married, and tells Mary to bring a frying pan so that they can kill him together. Instead, Mary lures Raoul into the kitchen and kills him. 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".


Critical reception[edit]

Eating Raoul has generally received positive reviews from professional film critics,[3] and has been nominated on the American Film Institute's 100 Years... 100 Laughs list.[4]

Home media[edit]

On April 13, 2004, the long out-of-print film was released on DVD by Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment.

On September 25, 2012, The Criterion Collection re-released the film on DVD and Blu-ray.


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.


Eating Raoul, a stage musical adaptation, was presented Off-Broadway in 1992,[5] and also played at the Bridewell Theatre, London, in 2000.

Planned sequel[edit]

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.[6] 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.[7]

Bland Ambition was about 10 days from the start of filming when Vestron withdrew its financial backing.[7]


  1. ^ "EATING RAOUL (X)". British Board of Film Classification. 1982-08-03. Retrieved 2012-11-05.
  2. ^ "Eating Raoul - Box Office Data". The Numbers. Retrieved 26 July 2011.
  3. ^ "EATING RAOUL (1982)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2015-02-26.
  4. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved August 23, 2017.
  5. ^ Eating Raoul at the Internet Off-Broadway Database Archived 2015-05-21 at the Wayback Machine..
  6. ^ "A thriving, extensive, or rapidly moving volume of trade."
  7. ^ a b Lawrence Van Gelder (1989-07-14). "At the Movies". New York Times. Retrieved February 12, 2008.

External links[edit]