Eating Raoul (1982):

Don’t fuck enough, and you may start killing people. Actually, as the square, undersexed Blands, Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov are just dandy with separate beds, gold-trimmed jammies, and antiseptic ‘50s décor -- it’s the pervs infesting the "psychotic environment" of Hollywood that get in their hair. Bartel is a wannabe wine connoisseur, fired from his job at the liquor store following a nimble send-up of the Taxi Driver bodega shoot-up; Woronov is his loving wife ("I don’t mind a little hugging and kissing, but this..."), interminable thighs wrapped in nurse whites, the first of several fetish get-ups (punishing mommy, Nazi frau, hippie chick, Minnie Mouse) she is to don to lure swinging hipsters to the apartment to be conked with a frying pan and relieved of their cash. Nothing malicious about the gig: Paul and Mary need dough to open their dream restaurant, and murder becomes an extension of business, to them no less unnatural than the repression of sex. Somebody needs to deal with the bodies in the duffel bags, so Raoul (Robert Beltran), a larcenous locksmith with connections to the dog-food industry, enters the frame, which becomes shakily triangular, the gag modulated around the literalization of the title. "Stop if it draws blood" is the advice of blithe dominatrix Susan Saiger as the Blands set up their raunch-for-hire business, but their deadly encounters with a gaggle of promiscuous twits (including Buck Henry, Ed Begley, Jr., deejay Don Steele, and ‘30s dwarf thesp Billy Curtis) are more sweet-natured than lurid, attesting to the kink-as-semi-underground-deadpan maxim of Bartel the director, who, following Private Parts and Death Race 2000, locates Buñuel's calm. A casually heartfelt affair, a home-movie mise en scène among friends, relaxed yet open to the wacky subtleties of Saiger posing as a blind nun, "Devil in a Blue Dress" blaring out in Spanish, Edie McClurg squeaking about S&M in furs, and the kinky sublimity of Woronov, muse, event, and fellow pop satirist. With Richard Paul, John Paragon, and Richard Blackburn.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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