Black comedy

Taboo subjects, gallows humor and dark comedy.

Eating Raoul

Eating_Raoul_FilmPosterWith a homicidal skillet skill-set, couple Paul and Mary Bland are looking to finance their dream bistro through unusual means*. Eating Raoul is an untamed satirical sex farce, the brainchild of co-star Paul Bartel, who plays the stoic, dull, predictable and, well…”bland” face of suburbia.

Fired from his job as a wine merchant for the unforgivable sin of steering a customer away from a store-mandated upsell of plonk, the Blands become a single-income household with only Mary (Mary Woronov) and her modest nutritionist income to tide them over.

Their Hollywood apartment complex, which has of late been “attracting real scum,” is the scene of a swingers party, a gathering that disgusts the chaste Blands, even more so when one of the lecher attendees accidentally stumbles into their unit and nearly drowns in their toilet.

He sobers up – enough to return later in the evening to try and have his way with Mary. The couple kill him with the closest household item at hand, a cast-iron skillet slugged over his skull. On his person they find a wallet-full of cold hard cash. Ergo, the light-bulb moment: if they can lure enough of these pervs, a bunch of lousy degenerates whom nobody will miss…they can raise enough for a down-payment on their boîte. Paul and Mary’s Country Kitchen is a venture that will feature…wait for it…”the bland enchilada.”


With the help of a party-going dominatrix, the couple better organize their ruse, prepping for each individual occasion (and client) with toys and unique get-ups.

Things are going swimmingly until they’re caught in the act by Lothario locksmith and petty thief Raoul, who blackmails them while (quite successfully it turns out) making a play for Mary.

Eating Raoul,  in spirit and tone, owes a debt to John Waters, and hell, even the nudie cuties of yore, a terrific satire of nuclear families and permissive sexual mores. New York Magazine suggested it was a spoof of the American ideal of entrepreneurship, although who knows how far their pitch would take them on Shark Tank.

The stellar duo of Mary Woronov and Paul Bartel, real-life friends and frequent co-stars, mesh perfectly. He’s the button up PBS pledge drive type and she’s the leggy supervixen. They sleep in separate beds, hilariously contrasting the chaste mores of the Blands with the unbridled lechers who surround them.

After all, “they’re square…they’re in love…and they kill people.”

***3/4 (out of 5)


*Death-by-frying pan is a terrific demise, featured in our book, Death by Umbrella! The 100 Weirdest Horror Movie Weapons.


grabbers_poster“Tis no feckin’ lobster.” No, but it’s an Avatar-blue practical effects and CG sea monster which has locals on edge in Grabbers.

Lisa Nolan is a “garda” taking a break from the hustle and bustle of Dublin crime-fighting to take a sub role on “Erin Island,” a pastoral fictional backwater where everyone gets lacquered at the isle’s sole pub (Maher’s).

Chief among these, Nolan’s new partner, Ciarán, a perpetually whisky-drunk lawman with little in the way of laws to enforce (unless you count, self-arrest for DUI and of course he turns a blind blood-shot eye to that). That is, until blue blood-sucking tentacled creatures invade, picking off locals and bungeeing them airborne, shooting them like elastic bands over thatched cottage roofs.

Richard Coyle (A Good Year) and Ruth Bradley (In Her Skin) are effortless as the cop buddies and reluctant acquaintances, who, along with resident egg-head Dr Smith, have to make sense of dead whales washed up on the beach and other mysterious incidents that are plaguing the remote locale. Their physical comedy camaraderie is on-point, and the film’s peppered with eccentric locals such as unreliable narrator and other town souse, Paddy.

We eventually learn that alcohol is toxic to these creatures, so law enforcement interrupt a Sunday mass to announce a (free) party at the local pub in order to get locals sufficiently sauced to build up a resistance. It’s a terrific send up of the oft-excessive Irish drinking culture; it’s the country that gave us The Ginger Man for crissakes, not to mention, exporting blarney pub culture all over the planet.

grabbers_pubGrabbers though, is really just a lovely, leisurely and persistently charming send-up of 1960s creature features, a real Cork-er if you will…

Irish writer Kevin Lehane asked himself, “Why do the aliens always land in America? Why couldn’t they land somewhere else?” Lehane, born and raised in County Cork, reproduced real-life Sherkin Island on screen here. And that somewhere else is lovely, with rugged terrain and beautiful sunsets.

You can see the love that went into Grabbers.

Grab a pint, build up your immunity, and enjoy.

And Happy St Patrick’s Day.

***1/2 (out of 5)