Criterion Corner: Eating Raoul 1982.

The Criterion Collection for years have been releasing the best versions of movies on DVD and Blue Ray.  They are hands down the ultimate praise a film can receive,and while many claim  the Oscar to be  the ultimate recognition.  Having the work and praise that goes into a Criterion edition.  Shows that it was put together by film lovers for film lovers.  This section is going to be dedicated to some of the great movies in this growing collection.

Eating Raoul

What I love best about the Criterion Collection is that they release titles that were forgotten about and give them a fresh new spin.  I remember seeing the box art for this when I was only 8, and just assumed that it was an odd horror movie so I skipped it.  Cut to many years later when I see this while browsing the Criterion Section at my local Library.   I had to see why this got chosen to be part of the collection, so I took it home and watched it.  On the outset,  “Eating Raoul”  looks like a typical 80’s sex comedy.  But there is so much more beneath the surface, then what is shown.

Paul and Mary Bland (Paul Bartel, and Mary Woronov) are a very conservative married couple.  They live in the type of world that would be perfect for a 50’s sitcom.  Each of them sleep in separate beds, and none of them have much attraction towards the other person.  The one thing they do have in common is that they hate the people who live in their Apartment complex.  The other tenants who live there are all perverts, swingers, and sexual deviants,according to the Bland’s.  One night one of these so-called sex fiends tries to make a move on Mary and ends up getting killed by accident.   After they dispose of the body, Paul and Mary devise a plan where they would lure men over with the promise of sex and then kill them for their money.  After all the Bland’s dream job is put a down payment on a restaurant, and the cash they get will surely  help them.  When another person discovers their secret.  Paul and Mary will have to decide if this person should join their plan or join up with the other dead bodies instead.

Right from even the opening credits, you can tell that this movie is going to treat its subject and characters with a certain level of absurdity. The juxtaposition of mixing both a screwball comedy and a dark one worked surprisingly well. The idea alone of a couple who are not that into sex,acting like pros is funny in itself. This would have broken new  ground if it got released during the mid 50’s but most likely would have banned too. Yes this movie does feature a good dose of nudity and sexual situations, but it never feels gratuitous. “Eating Raoul“, may present a much darker tone then expected, but this is film whose tongue is placed firmly in its cheek. Paul kills each man with a giant frying pan which helps give it a cartoonish like vibe. Just like the sex, the violence is also never graphic. There may be references to crude things like cannibalism, but it’s only just that and it’s not the central point of the story like I thought it was.

Mr. Bartel and Miss Woronov are best known for working with Roger Corman in  low-budget classics like “Rock in Roll HighSchool” and “Death Race 2000” of which Bartel also directed. They are a great comedy duo, and have incredible chemistry. I hope they have appeared in more movies together. Susan Saiger who plays Doris the Dominatrix is another great character. At night she easily ties and whips men into submission for a price. But in the daytime she is the nicest housewife. The movie also features other great cameos including Ed Begly Jr(“Pineapple Express“), Buck Henry(Screenwriter of “The Garduate“), and Edie McClurg(“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off“).

To close up, I will say that “Eating Raoul” was way more enjoyable than I thought it would be. Every situation these characters got into I bought, and in the context of the picture it worked really well. That’s why when I see Mary wearing a Minnie Mouse outfit, I don’t even question it. I just laugh.

Eating Raoul paul mary

Special Features:
New, restored digital transfer, supervised by director of photography Gary Thieltges, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
Audio commentary featuring screenwriter Richard Blackburn, production designer Robert Schulenberg, and editor Alan Toomayan
The Secret Cinema (1966) and Naughty Nurse (1969), two short films by director Paul Bartel
Cooking Up “Raoul,” a new documentary about the making of the film, featuring interviews with stars Mary Woronov, Robert Beltran, and Edie McClurg
Gag reel of outtakes from the film
Archival interview with Bartel and Woronov
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic David Ehrenstein


About The Vern

I love movies and I enjoy writing about them too. They both go pretty much hand in hand with each other and it's fun to discover new classics. I co host the podcasts The Film Pasture, ScreenTrax, and soon Cinema Recall. While also contributing reviews and articles to other great sites when I can.
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6 Responses to Criterion Corner: Eating Raoul 1982.

  1. filmhipster says:

    Oh man, I completely forgot about this film. Oddly enough I saw this with my mom on TV when I was about 11 or 12.

    Thanks for this review, brought back some good memories.

  2. Interesting post 🙂 I’ve never seen this film so will have a look online. It sounds like a classic!

  3. bronsonfive says:

    I just watched this film 2 days ago… so odd and hilarious. I wish I had seen it sooner. And like you, I remember seeing that cover art in the video store in my youth and being curious about it. But for some reason I never picked it up. Now I am glad I saw it.

    @filmhipster – I wonder if the television version was edited?

    • The Vern says:

      Sweet. I’m so glad you had a chance to watch this. That’s what I love about Criterion. They give new light to films that were forgotten about. I don’t recall this ever being on TV , but I could be wrong. Thanks for leaving a comment.

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