One night, they arrive home at their apartment and get word of a wild swinger party in the room next door. Soon after, one of the swingers pops in on the couple and one thing leads to another and Paul whacks the hornball over the head with his favorite frying pan. A few strong thuds later, the man is dead and the Blands are $600 richer.
Then, the scheme: Using wanted ads in the paper, Paul and Mary (or, Cruel Carl and Naughty Nancy) plot to lure swingers to their home, then kill and rob them. An even $20,000 would take care of the down payment for the Country Kitchen.
Eating Raoul, released in 1982, is a display of bad taste and even worse punch lines, many of which are approached like taboo SNL skits and the grand finale of which is spoiled in the movie’s title. With its plate of extreme fantasies and fetishes from Nazis to Minnie Mouse, the movie was out to test the limits. Maybe it did 30 years ago, but so much in Bartel and Richard Blackburn’s script seems so tame and obvious in 2012. And because Eating Raoul is a black comedy, we’re also supposed to laugh along. It’s not that the movie doesn’t have amusing moments (it does, mainly because of Bartel’s perfect timing), but the straight-faced presentation spoils much of whatever fun there’s supposed to be.
Eating Raoul is a showcase of murder, cannibalism and “fabulous ‘50s furniture” that’s neither clever nor daring. If anything, it’s the kind of movie John Waters would masturbate to.
The Secret Cinema (27:12): This 1966 short film stars Amy Vane as a paranoid woman who thinks her life is being videotaped and shown to others. Bartel remade The Secret Cinema in 1986 as a season one episode of Amazing Stories.
Naughty Nurse (8:56): In this 1969 short film, Valorie Armstrong plays a nurse who doubles as a dominatrix.
Cooking up Raoul (24:27): This retrospective featurette features stars Mary Woronov (Mary Bland), Robert Beltran (Raoul) and Edie McClurg (Susan) reflecting on the making of Eating Raoul.
Gag Reel (5:46) offers a collection of flubs and goofs from various cast members.
Archival Interview (21:14) features director Bartel and actress Woronov.
Also included with this Criterion Collection Blu-ray is a booklet featuring an essay titled “Murder Most Delicious” by film critic David Ehrenstein.