Eating Raoul

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Movie Review by Mark Bayross

Starring: Paul Bartel, Mary Woronov, Robert Beltran
Director: Paul Bartel

Written by, directed by and starring Paul Bartel, the 1982 black comedy EATING RAOUL has now been released on DVD. Bartel sadly died of cancer this year, but this film stands as a fitting example of the man’s talent.

Bartel plays the appropriately-named Paul Bland, who along with kinky but conservative wife Mary (played by Mary Woronov), lives a life of suburban dowdiness and financial deficiency in LA. After losing his job, and naively falling for a series of confidence tricks, Paul and Mary see their dream of moving out of their shabby apartment and opening a restaurant in the country slowly disappear.

Appalled by the swinger parties that take place down the corridor from their apartment, Paul accidentally kills one of the guests when he takes a wrong turn and ends up in their home and on top of his wife. Very quickly, the Blands realise they can raise the cash they need by luring more swingers into their flat, killing them and raiding their wallets; after all, they are only ridding the world of unwanted “perverts”.

They assume alter egos, take out an ad, and are inundated with clients looking to satisfy all manner of bizarre sexual fantasies. With a mixture of shock and glee, the sexually innocent couple begin amassing the modest fortune they need to fulfil their dream, until they catch young Latin American burglar Raoul (Robert Beltran) breaking into their flat. Raoul quickly wants in on the scam, and proves highly effective at boosting their finances, but soon he starts to desire more than just the money…

EATING RAOUL is, excuse the pun, a delicious black comedy. While the plot is simple and predictable, the acting is low-key and endearing, making the subject matter all the more shocking and hilarious. There are some great scenes – a demented sex shop owner (played by John Paragon) harasses an obviously out-of-his-depth Paul – while the dialogue boasts some killer lines: “You go to bed, dear. I’ll bag the Nazi and tidy up”.

The film fortunately refuses to pass comment on the morality of either killing for money, or sexual experimentation, instead choosing a backdrop of normality – bank managers, dinner guests – against which to portray this decadence. Although made in 1982, there is still very much a seventies feel to the film, both in look and sound (slapstick bangs, “Carry On” style music), especially with its references to drugs and swinger parties.

An amusing film, that’s definitely worth watching. The DVD release includes the original theatrical trailer.

4 out of 6 stars