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Film / Eating Raoul

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A 1982 Black Comedy directed by, co-written by and co-starring Paul Bartel. Inspired in part by the original British The Ladykillers and Kind Hearts and Coronets. Has also been compared to Charlie Chaplin's Monsieur Verdoux.

The plot involves Paul Bland (Bartel) and his wife Mary (Mary Woronov), a repressed and prudish married couple who live in Los Angeles and dream of opening a restaurant. However, they face a number of problems in doing so, not least being a lack of money and having to live in an apartment building that is frequently filled with seedy swinger types. After they are forced to kill a couple of swingers who attack Mary, the couple hit on the idea of murdering "rich perverts" and stealing from them to finance their restaurant. Things go smoothly until Raoul (Robert Beltran), a smooth cat-burglar, discovers what they're doing while breaking into their apartment. This forces the couple to join forces with Raoul to continue their scheme, which in turn leads to a love triangle developing between the three which quickly turns murderous...

Available on DVD and Blu-ray as part of The Criterion Collection. The Blands also make a cameo appearance in Chopping Mall.

Troping Raoul:

  • And Starring: "And Susan Sanger as The Dominatrix" after all the other cast members have been presented in alphabetical order.
  • Asshole Victim: Not all of the victims are clearly this, but certainly some of them are: the uninvited "guests" who refuse to accept that Mary isn't into swinging with them, and the sleazy bank officer who attempts to molest her in his office while she's applying for a loan qualify easily. Also, with a few exceptions (a headline on a newspaper Raoul is reading in one scene indicates someone was out looking for the "midget" swinger they murdered), nobody much seems to have gone looking for the victims after they died, which suggests they were at the very least not very sociable characters.
    • The titular Raoul isn't exactly an exemplar of humanity either, which is partly what leads to his titular fate.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: To Doris the Dominitrix at the swingers' party:
    "Beat me, Doris! Whip me! Make me write bad checks!"
    • The opening montage of Horrible Hollywood presents sins like murder and kidnapping along with stealing newspapers and putting ketchup on an ice cream sundae.
  • Black Comedy Cannibalism: See the title.
  • Black Comedy Attempted Rape: Paul and Mary's first two victims are swingers who came into their apartment expecting to do some swinging with Mary and wouldn't take no for an answer. Paul's ensuring that these rapes remained only at the attempted level helps sell the comedy of these scenes.
  • Bowdlerise: An edited version aired on USA Up All Night frequently in The '90s. It kept a fair amount of the film intact, but cut out the nudity and racier content (including the sex shop scene, presumably because of the massive dildo that the owner brandishes at one point).
  • The Cameo: Joe Dante is a busboy. John Landis bumps into Mary at the bank.
  • Camp Straight: Paul has some swishy mannerisms, but is Happily Married (albeit a Sexless Marriage) to a woman.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: For a couple hiding a body, Paul and Mary sure trade a lot of calm, idle banter.
  • Chez Restaurant: Paul wants to call the restaurant Chez Bland. Mary realizes that might not fly so well. Paul still insists that their signature dish should be "The Bland Enchilada."
  • Credits Gag: Paul Bartel's sister Wendy, who has a cameo in the film as one of the people in the dog food commercial, is credited as "A sister to the director."
  • Cringe Comedy: Paul and Mary read letters written in response to their swingers' ad.
    "Dear mommy, Here is an indecent picture of me. As you can see, I have been a very bad boy..."
  • Electrified Bathtub: The hot tub at the party.
  • Familiar Soundtrack, Foreign Lyrics: The montage where Paul follows Raoul and his van is set to a Spanish version of the Garage Rock classic "Devil with a Blue Dress" performed by Los Lobos.
  • Fingertip Drug Analysis: How Mary figures out that the "vitamins" Raoul is taking are actually saltpeter.
  • Frying Pan of Doom: Paul and Mary's weapon of choice. It appears to be enameled steel, rather than true cast iron, though.
    Mary: While you're out would you get a new frying pan? I feel a little squeamish cooking in the one we use to kill people.
  • Girls Love Stuffed Animals: Mary retires for the evening with a lap full of stuffed animals. Paul, one bed over, has a huge stuffed pillow designed like a bottle of wine to snuggle with.
  • Horrible Hollywood: The movie revels in depicting Los Angeles as a seedy city full of perverts and criminals.
  • Hospital Hottie: Mary Bland works as a nurse, and one particular patient has the hots for her.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Paul and Mary have no problem killing swingers for their money since they believe the swingers are lowlifes who nobody is going to miss, while they are nice people.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Played with. Most of their victims' bodies go to the Doggie-King dog food factory. One does become dinner for the Blands and a guest, and it's implied that long pig may be a regular staple of the restaurant.
  • ISO-Standard Urban Groceries: Naturally, Paul has the long French bread stick poking out of the top of his grocery bag.
  • Killing in Self-Defense: The Blands' Start of Darknessnote  is having to kill the aggressive swingers.
  • Latin Lover: Raoul.
  • Master of Unlocking: Raoul, a cat burglar, daylights running a locksmith business. What a racket.
  • Meaningful Name: The Blands are just that...bland.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Let's just say that being the "other man" in a love triangle with Paul and Mary is not going to end well for you.
  • Outside Ride: Paul tails Raoul's activities in the most direct way possible, by hiding on top of his van.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: The Blands, even though they are Happily Married.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: The Blands both fit this in a roundabout way, since they seem a bit immature (sleeping with stuffed toys, for example), and they're serial murderers.
  • Revised Ending: According to the Director's Commentary track, some foreign versions of this movie will show Paul and Mary in prison stripes instead of being at the opening of their new restaurant for the freeze frame at the end; this is because some countries had a policy against letting criminals ultimately get away with their crimes in movies.
  • The Musical: It opened off-Broadway in 1992.
  • The Secret of Long Pork Pies: The second dinner with James, at the very least. Possibly a regular occurrence at "Paul & Mary's Country Kitchen".
    James: (taking another serving of the entree): This is delicious. Is it French?
    Mary: It's more ... Spanish.
  • Sexless Marriage: Paul and Mary, and they seem to both be perfectly fine with it.
    Mary: I don't mind a little hugging and kissing.
  • A Simple Plan: Paul & Mary kill swingers for their money so they can put the down-payment on their dream restaurant.
  • Sleeping Single: To emphasize their asexual nature, Paul and Mary sleep in separate beds, with matching sheets.
  • Spell My Name With An S: Bartel was informed that the proper Chicano spelling of Raoul was Raul, but chose to keep the French spelling for aesthetic reasons.
  • Spoiler Title: Yes, Raoul gets eaten.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: One of the fetish scenes for Paul and Mary's victims. Complete with a cute little swastika throw pillow.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Paul and Mary wouldn't have it any other way.
  • Villain Protagonist: Paul and Mary, but they're just so darn Affably Evil, and their victims are such lowlifes, it's hard not to end up being on their side, at least a little bit.