November 29, 1982 12:00 PM

Despite its title, Eating Raoul is neither a porn flick nor a strange gourmet guide but a rare high camp comedy that may be palatable to more than art-house audiences. Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov play Paul and Mary Bland, a middle-class couple who dream of opening a country restaurant (Chez Bland) outside of Los Angeles. Meanwhile, they’re debt-ridden and plagued by sexual swingers who infest their apartment building. When one of the swingers tries to rape Mary, Paul fatally conks him with a skillet, stuffs his body into a garbage bag and deposits the remains in the building’s trash compactor. They keep the $300 in his wallet, however, and thereby discover a new source of financing for Chez Bland. They advertise kinky sex (“We do anything”) in a local paper and soon are entertaining all manner of weirdos, each of whom is dispatched with the skillet and relieved of cash. Then Raoul (Richard Beltran), a thief posing as a locksmith, discovers their scam and demands a cut of the action. The plot really does thicken rather than sicken because Paul and Mary are the most wimpy, deadpan murderers imaginable. Bartel, who also directed, co-wrote the script as a vehicle for himself and Woronov, a longtime friend. Since no Hollywood studio was interested in financing the offbeat project, Bartel enlisted actor friends, scrounged film stock and shot 10 minutes here and 10 there until the movie was finished on less than a $1 million budget. Try it, you’ll like it. (R)

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