“Mary — I just killed a man.”
Straight-laced couple Paul and Mary Bland (Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov) need money to open their own restaurant, so they decide to lure sexual perverts to their house and rob them. Things get sticky, however, when an opportunistic locksmith named Raoul (Robert Beltran) becomes their partner in crime, and seduces Mary.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Black Comedy
- Love Triangle
- Serial Killers
Response to Peary’s Review:
This wickedly humorous black comedy — the ultimate “midnight movie” — never oversteps the boundaries of pure camp, taking place in an alternate universe where one strong whack on the head with a skillet can kill a man, corpses are easily sold as dog food, and every other man is a lech or a con-artist. Indeed, it’s easy to sympathize with the well-meaning Blands, who are surrounded by degradation on all sides, and can’t seem to get by without joining the fray. As Peary notes, the primary dilemma in the movie — will Woronov “remain faithful to her mild-mannered, asexual husband or kill him and run off with Raoul?” — is an interesting one, and doesn’t resolve as expected. This is a rare film where all people — good or bad — get what’s coming to them.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Woronov and Bartel’s strong performances as the sympathetic murderers
- Hilarious S&M costumes
- Susan Saiger as Doris the Dominatrix, who wears many different hats
- Edie McClurg in a tiny, scene-stealing moment as a swinger
Yes. This low-budget black comedy is an essential part of independent cinema history.
2 thoughts on “Eating Raoul (1982)”
I agree; ‘Eating Raoul’ is a must-see. I can rather clearly remember the first time I saw it in a packed Manhattan theater during a first-run (therefore, before it became a midnight movie). It was one of those experiences where the audience laughed uproariously as one as they discovered a gem together. I’ve seen it a few times since – most recently within the last few years – and I can’t imagine that it will age badly. It is Bartel’s most realized work and holds a unique place in independent film history.
I was also pleasantly surprised by Bartel’s “Death Race 2000”, another cult classic which pokes fun at sacrosanct topics (i.e., running over elderly people). I’m glad he was finally able to “make it” in Hollywood, after years of struggling to get “Eating Raoul” made…