Eating Raoul [1982]

You'd think a black comedy about murder, tackiness, and sexual perversion would quickly become dated, but Eating Raoul (1982) feels surprisingly fresh and delightful. When Mary Bland (Mary Woronov) gets assaulted by one of the repulsive swingers from the neighboring apartment, her husband Paul (Paul Bartel) rescues her with a swift blow from a frying pan--only to discover a substantial wad of cash in the swinger's wallet. A lure-and-kill scheme follows, which nicely fills their nest egg until a slippery thief named Raoul (Robert Beltran of Star Trek: Voyager, making his film debut) stumbles onto the truth and insists on getting a share. When Raoul starts demanding a share of Mary as well, Paul has to take drastic steps. The key to Eating Raoul isn't the sensational content, but the blithe, matter-of-fact attitude Bartel and Woronov take to it; their sly underplaying makes the movie sparkle with wicked wit. --Bret Fetzer

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