The absurd Blands (Paul Bartel, Mary Woronov) lure swingers home to be conked by a skillet, robbed and removed by Raoul (Robert Beltran).
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.
A relatively boring Los Angeles couple discover a bizarre, if not murderous way to get funding for opening a restaurant.
Paul and Mary Bland are a wine dealer and a nurse, respectively, who bemoan their low status in life 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 relatively penniless and the chances that they will ever realize their dream quickly diminish. Their plight is exacerbated by the fact that they live in an apartment building that is a regular site of swinger parties.
After a drunk swinger wanders into their apartment and tries to rape Mary, Paul kills him by hitting him with a heavy frying pan. They take his money and put him in the trash compactor. Later, they kill another swinger in a similar fashion, and realize that they could make money by killing "rich perverts", and proceed to do so, getting advice on infiltrating the swinging lifestyle from one of the buildings orgy regulars, Doris the Dominatrix.
After finding a flier for cheap lock-installation on their car, they decide, for the safety of Pauls wine collection, to have the locks on their apartment door changed. The locksmith, Raoul, is a Latino man who moonlights as a cat burglar, robbing the homes and apartments of his clients. He breaks into the Blands apartment the night after installing their locks, only to stumble across the corpse of the Blands latest victim, a Nazi fetishist. Paul catches Raoul and the two strike a deal: Not only will Raoul keep the Blands secret, he tells them that he knows a place where he can "exchange" the corpses for cash. The Blands accept, and Raoul goes to work for them (he sells the corpses to a dog food company), also secretly stealing the victims cars and selling them.
One night shortly after, 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") and Mary is left alone in the house. Their next customer, dressed as a hippie, arrives while Paul is gone. When Mary attempts to explain that he missed his appointment, he tries to rape her. Raoul wanders in, sees the customer attacking Mary and strangles him to death with his belt. Raoul then offers Mary marijuana and they have sex.
They sleep together once more, with Raoul attempting to convince Mary to run away with him. After Raoul tries to run Paul over with a car, Paul hires Doris the Dominatrix to pose as a variety of people (including an immigration agent and a public health worker) to try to get rid of Raoul by making him believe he is being deported, and by giving him saltpeter pills (which can prohibit males from obtaining an erection). None of these plans work, however, 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 then takes Paul into the kitchen so that he and Mary can both kill him together; instead, Mary kills Raoul with the frying pan.
Mary and Paul then remember theyre expecting their real estate agent (whos helping them buy their dream restaurant) for dinner. With no food in the house, and little time before his arrival, Paul and Mary cook Raoul and serve him for dinner. The last shot of the film is a smiling Paul and Mary in front of their brand new restaurant, with the caption, "Bon Appetit."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
Eating Raoul has generally received positive reviews from professional film critics.
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 Bartels 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, and also played at the Bridewell Theatre, London, in 2000.
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 theyre 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.
Bland Ambition was about 10 days from the start of filming when Vestron withdrew its financial backing.