Eating Raoul (1982)

USA, 1982
90m
35mm film, Metrocolour
mono, English

An American comedy horror film directed by Paul Bartel.

Plot Summary

Paul and Mary Bland are seemingly normal couple trying to run a restaurant in a sexually liberated . When Paul accidentally kills a swinger trying to assault Mary, they realise that here's a quick way to make some money. The bodies are sold off for dog food – but that's not the fate awaiting cat burglar and partner-in-crime Raoul…

Credits

Crew
Director: Paul Bartel
Bartel, Films Incorporated, Quartet
Producer: Anne Kimmel
Script: Paul Bartel, Richard Blackburn
Director of Photography: Gary Thieltges
Editor: Alan Toomayan
Music: Arlon Ober
Sound Mixer: Anthony Santa Croce
Costume Designer: Katherine Dover
Make Up/Hair: Peter Knowlton
Special Pyrotechnic Effects: Frank L. Pope
Production Designer: Robert Schulenberg

Cast
Mary Woronov (Mary Bland)
Paul Bartel (Paul Bland)
Robert Beltran (Raoul)
Susan Saiger (Doris the dominatrix)
Lynn Hobart (lady customer)
Richard Paul (store owner)
Mark Woods (hold-up man)
John Shearin (patient)
Darcy Pulliam (Nurse Sheila)
Ben Haller (Dewey)
Roberta Spero, Vernon Demetrius, Arlene Harris, Buster Wilson, Marta Fergusson (swingers)
Garry Goodrow (drunk swinger)
Richard Blackburn (James from the Valley)
Hamilton Camp (wine buyer)
Pamela Carter (maid)
Buck Henry (Mr Leech)
Anna Mathias (secretary)
Hanns Manship (guard)
Dan Barrows (Bobby R.)
Allan Rich (Nazi)

Alternative Titles

Oberza – Poland
Paistinpannumurhaajat – Finland
Tudo por Dinheiro – Brazil
¿Y si nos comemos a Raúl? – Spain

Extracts included in
Precious Images (1986).

Press

1982
Variety 24 March 1982 pp.41, 295
Those searching for an example of both creative and potentially commercial independent filmmaking would be well-advised to see Eating Raoul, Paul Bartel's outrageous gander at just how twisted life can become for a simple married couple who have lived in the big city for too long. This is not only more original than most studio features of late, but was made at a fraction of their cost. […] The appeal of Bartel's tongue-in-cheek approach is that he manages to take his story to such a ridiculous extreme, remain genuinely funny and successfully tell his perverse story. Not the least of his achievements is shooting the picture piecemeal in an effort to obtain financing and finally persuading family and friends to donate time and money so it could be completed. While the material could offend in some circles, Bartel has a light, deadpan approach that makes what would normally seem repulsive become perfectly acceptable (at least on film). Although there are some slow points to the script he co-wrote with Dick Blackburn, for the most part this is an unusually inventive, well-executed independent feature. – from a review by Berg

1983
Films in Review January 1983 pp.51-52
Behind the film's ambiguously suggestive title and bizarre surface lurk a plethora of serious and mordant comments on American life and attitudes; the perversion of the American dream; how praiseworthy eds can justify evil means, especially when the victims of those means are “weirdos” or other unconventional people (here, the weirdos are all heterosexual; one can only speculate on what might be deemed appropriate for homosexuals); how the dominant WASPs use and devour minority people, and so on. And unlooked-for cornucopia, but the social commentary fails to redeem a film that, despite its decadent charm and a disarming lightness of tone, fails to cohere or even to amuse for long. The central idea of the film is a macabre one but the dominant image, execution by frying pan, amusing at first, rapidly turns repetitious and stale. Paul Bartel's direction is generally uninspired and Gary Thieltges's cinematography is routine. The screenplay, by Richard Blackburn and Bartel, is contrived and unconvincing. […] If you expect uproarious comedy or sophisticated pornography you will be disappointed; Eating Raoul is more significant as social comment than as film art. – from a review by Richard Greenbaum

Monthly Film Bulletin vol.50 no.588 (January 1983) p.13
Eating Raoul, it should be said at once, is all of a piece, its comedy style perfectly in synch with its subject and its lead performances by Bartel and Mary Woronov as a sweet, uptight couple, with sweet, chaste dreams of a life beyond the sleazy city. In the progression of the performances, in fact, with the Blands discovering by slow degrees how they can turn a profit on the sleaze that persistently intrudes on their 50s-kitsch world, there is a fastidiousness about Bartel's direction that all but completely identifies the film with its central couple. […] The identification does not invalidate the above catalogue of themes, but it does somewhat reduce their trenchancy. And the ‘blandness' with which Bartel sidles into mock-horror material again – the disposal of the victims courtesy of the Doggy King company – emphasises its second-hand quality. He ends, however, by effectively making the point that 50s consumerism and dog-eat-dog attitudes are in again by allowing his couple, sweetly, to achieve their dream. – from a review by Richard Combs

New Musical Express 7 March 1987 p.21
Eating Raoul‘s art lies not so much in the theme as in Bartel's handling of it. Bartel and Woronov portray their bizzare [sic] activities with such matter-of-fact ease that their strict moral codes appear the norm, and their bloodless murders lose all trace of nastiness and seem the only logical and graceful form of killing two birds with one stone. That their deadpan execution never crosses the border into boredom is due to the abundance of witty one-liners and strong supporting cast, especial notables being Raoul, the hot-blooded Latin who inconveniently falls in love with Mary, and Doris, the whip-touting dominatrix who doubles as a doting mum by day. […] By plunging itself straight into the realms of bad taste, Eating Raoul is also a satire on the prim middle-class morality that turns a blind eye to crime when it's convenient. Refreshing and funny,Eating Raoul is that rare treat – a black comedy without a wrought iron conscience. – from an illustrated review (Silver screen: Tasty geezer) by Leyla Sanai)

2001
Sight & Sound vol.11 no.4 (April 2001) p.62
The film is driven by its superb dialogue and outlandish performances, not its visuals. That being the case, viewers ought to accept the no-frills nature of the new DVD version. – from a DVD review (Home movies: reviews) by GM [Geoffrey Macnab]

References

Periodicals

  • American Film vol.10 no.6 (April 1985) pp.12-14, 16 – illustrated interview with Paul Bartel
  • Cinema no.8 (1971) pp.16-20; 27 – interviews with Paul Bartel, Mary Woronov and Robert Beltran; review
  • City Limits no.67 (14 January 1983) p.9 – interview with Paul Bartel
  • Film Comment vol.17 no.4 (July/August 1981) pp.6, 8 – review
  • Films vol.2 no.12 (November 1982) p.8 – interview with Paul Bartel
  • Films and Filming no.337 (October 1982) pp.28-29 – review
  • Films in Review January 1983 pp.51-52 – illustrated review
  • The Hollywood Reporter vol.271 no.6 (23 March 1982) p.8 – review
  • Monthly Film Bulletin vol.50 no.588 (January 1983) p.13 – credits, synopsis, review (By Richard Combs)
  • New Musical Express 7 March 1987 p.21 – illustrated review (Silver screen: Tasty geezer by Leyla Sanai)
  • Screen International no.376 (8 January 1983) p.24 – interview with Paul Bartel
  • Screen International no.377 (15 January 1983) p.20 – review
  • Sight & Sound vol.11 no.4 (April 2001) p.62 – DVD review (Home movies: reviews by GM [Geoffrey Macnab])
  • Time Out no.648 (21 January 1983) pp.23, 25 – review
  • Variety 24 March 1982 pp.41, 295 – credits, review (by Berg)

Books

  • The 100 Best Movies You've Never Seen by Richard Crouse pp.69-72
  • Comedy-Horror Films: A Chronological History, 1914-2008 by Bruce G. Hallenbeck pp.123-125; 219 – review; credits
  • The Films of the Eighties by Douglas Brode pp.89-91 – illustrated credits, review
  • The Films of the Eighties by Robert A.Nowlan and Gwendolyn Wright Nowlan p.160-161 – credits, synopsis
  • Horror and Science Fiction Films III by Donald C. Willis p.87
  • Horrorshows: The A-Z of Horror in Film, TV, Radio and Theatre by Gene Wright p.129 – illustrated credits, review
  • Serial Killer Cinema: An Analytical Filmography by Robert Cetti p.141-142