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05 December, 2010

Junkyardfilm.com's Moldy Oldie Movie of the Month: EATING RAOUL

Title:  EATING RAOUL

Year of Release—Film:  1982






Mary and Paul Bland (Mary Woronov and the late Paul Bartel) are two married, sexually repressed squares who want to leave their sex-crazed swingers apartment building for the relative peace of restaurant ownership of Chez Bland.  However, as Mary is a nurse and Paul has just lost his job at a liquor store for being a wine snob, this dream seems unobtainable.  Even applying for a bank loan only gets Mary unwelcome advances by the bank loan officer, Mr. Leech (Buck Henry).  Then, one night, Mary is sexually assaulted by a drunken swinger who staggers into her apartment and thinks she's playing hard to get.  Paul walks in on the assault and beans the would-be rapist with a frying pan, killing him.  Discovering the dead man's wallet is full of money, they decide to kill two birds with one frying pan and set out to not only eliminate the swingers but pad their financial coffers with ill-gotten gain.
In order to learn more about how to attract more swinger victims, they ask Dora the Dominatrix (Susan Saiger) for suggestions and are advised to take out ads in a local LA free newspaper.  Thus begins Paul and Mary's career of luring and bumping off, then robbing, their unsuspecting prey.  Once the ads appear, Mary soon has more customers than she can handle.  Men with Nazi rape fantasies, men with Great Danes in tow and men who desire women dressed in Daisy Duck costumes.  And, one by one, they all meet their end at the hands of Paul and his frying pan.  However, fearing their secret will be discovered, they hire a locksmith named Raoul (Robert Beltram) to change their door locks, not knowing he is actually a thief and burglar.
One night, after seemingly being stood up by her latest appointment, Mary sends Paul out for some food.  But, while Paul is gone, the appointment shows up in the form of a would-be hippie (Ed Begley Jr) who first tries to get Mary stoned and then tries to rape her.  Raoul breaks in and, after struggling with the hippie, kills him.  Seeing the now half-nude Mary reclining on the couch, he fires up a joint and seduces a willing Mary.  When Paul returns with the food, Raoul tells him that he can dispose of the bodies and make even more money for Mary and Paul.  Happily, they agree!

Mary, deeply distraught over letting herself be seduced, asks Raoul to visit her at work so she can explain how this must never happen again.  However, Raoul whips out another joint and soon they are both stoned and having sex in the exam room of the hospital.  Raoul wants Mary to leave Paul and become his #1 bitch.  She declines.

Paul, suspecting something is going on between Raoul and Mary, decides to follow Raoul only to discover he's selling the dead bodies to a dog food company.  However, Raoul is pocketing even more money selling the swinger's cars left outside the apartment building.  Infuriated, he approaches Dora the Dominatrix and hires her to act as an immigration officer to spook Raoul and get him to flee back to Mexico.  This, unfortunately, doesn't work and it seems Raoul is here to stay.  In a last ditch effort to get Raoul out of his life and out of his wife, he has Dora dress up as a health inspector and give Raoul pills that contain saltpeter.  This renders him unable to perform, much to Mary's dismay.

Dora invites Mary and Paul to a swinger's party in the Hollywood Hills.  At first, they don't want to attend but decide they might make some much-needed money for the restaurant's down-payment.  Later that night, they meet the host Howard Swine (Don Steele) and are introduced to a boat load of sex-crazed swingers, including the lecherous Mr. Leech from the bank, who promptly tries to rape Mary in the bathroom.  She kills him and shoves him out of the window.  Frightened, she tells Paul what happened and they decide to leave but are harassed and hooted at by Howard Swine to join the swinger's in the hot-tub.  Disgusted and tired of all these sexual goings-on, Paul responds by throwing an electric lantern in the hot-tub, electrocuting them all.  Summoning several tow trucks, Paul and Mary make off with the money made by selling the victim's cars.
Returning home, they are met by Raoul, who is furious at Paul for giving him the saltpeter pills and threatens him with a gun.  Mary persuades Raoul not to shoot Paul, saying the noise might alert the neighbors.  Raoul tells Mary to get the frying pan and kill Paul so they can be together forever.  Mary returns with frying pan in hand and KLANG!  She beans Raoul over the head, killing him.  Suddenly, there's a knock at the door and it's the realtor.  They had forgotten they had invited him to dinner!  What to do now!?!  There's nothing in the house to cook and serve!  So, Mary drags Raoul's body into the kitchen as Paul opens the door and invites their dinner guest inside.  At dinner, the realtor compliments Mary on the delicious dinner, asking if it's Italian.  She tells him no, that's it's mostly Mexican.  And the ending credits roll over a scene of Mary and Paul standing outside their newly-opened restaurant.  The end.

Paul Bartel, who at the time worked for Roger Corman, tried to persuade Corman into backing his film but Corman declined.  So, Paul financed it himself and shot it on weekends.  What resulted is a terrifically funny black comedy!  The three main actors obviously love working together and the sets are surreal.  The script is witty and unpredictable.  It's not a laugh out loud comedy but it holds the audience's interest from start to finish.  The supporting cast is an unlikable bunch of characters but Mary and Paul, despite the fact they are cold-blooded killers and cannibals, are endearing and one finds oneself pulling for them to succeed.  This delightful film deserves an official DVD release!

Enjoy!  Or not.

MSTjunkie

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