Eat the Rich (1987)

Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister
December 24, 1945 – December 28, 2015

If you’re not a fan of the late Lemmy Kilminster and Motorhead, you’ll hate this movie. If you’re a fan the late Lemmy Kilminster and Motorhead, you’ll hate this movie.

Yes, I love Motorhead. And I hate this movie.

Image of U.S.-issued VHS courtesy of Videonut324/Paul Zamarelli of VHS Collector.com

Why? You love all of this f’up, obscure stuff, R.D.

The MTV video for the film’s title song, “Eat the Rich,” from Motorhead’s ninth studio album, 1987’s Rock ‘n’ Roll, was in heavy rotation (complete with “BEEPS”), with featured clips from the film that led us to believe Lemmy starred in the film. Yep, you guessed right: we ended up with very little Lemmy — who we rented to see — and a whole lot of British comedian-comedienne-cum-drag queen Al Pellay, aka Lanah Pellay — who we didn’t rent to see. And while the MTV video put focus on the Rolling Stones’ Bill Wyman and the Beatles’ Paul McCartney to the forefront (Hugh Cornwell from the Stranglers and Jools Holland of Squeeze show up), they’re in the film less than Lemmy.

Again, as with A Matter of Degrees and The Runnin’ Kind, the distribution on this was nil; I didn’t see the film until the mid-90s, when a Blockbuster Video-absorbed Sound Warehouse — all which were converting into Blockbuster Music outlets (remember those shiny, commercialized shiteholes?) — dumped their VHS inventory ($2.00 bucks: sold, along with John Doe of X in Border Radio, $2.00: sold).

I was over the moon. Then the moon crashed.

Yeah, I hated this movie. I watched it once, bulked it, and copied a behind-the-green curtain Jenna Jameson porn over it. In fact, skip this movie. Watch the Motorhead video instead — and call it a day. Then find a Jenna Jameson porn online. You’ll thank me later.

In fact, don’t even finish reading this review of this movie that you shouldn’t watch and just read Lemmy’s sexual innuendo word smithin’, for his lyrics are more entertaining than the actual script that served as his lyrical inspiration.

They say music is the food of love
Let’s see if you’re hungry enough
Take a bite, take another
Just like a good boy would
Get a sweet thing on the side
Home cooking, homicide
Side order, could be your daughter
Finger licking good

Come on baby, eat the rich
Put the bite on the son of a (BEEP)
Don’t mess up, don’t you give me no switch
Come on baby, and eat the rich
Come on baby, and eat the rich

Sitting down in a restaurant
Tell the waiter just what you want
Is that the meat you wanted to eat?
How would you ever know?

Hash browns and bacon strips
I love the way that you lick your lips
No fooling, I can see you drooling
Feel the hunger grow

Come on baby, eat the rich
Put the bite on the son of a (BEEP)
Don’t mess up, don’t you give me no switch
Come on baby, and eat the rich
Come on baby, and eat the rich
Come on honey, here’s your supper
Come on baby, bite that sucker

I’ll eat you, baby, you eat me
Eat two, baby get one free
Shetland pony, extra pepperoni
Just pick up the phone
Eat Greek or eat Chinese
Eat salad or scarf up grease
You’re on the shelf, you eat yourself
Come on and bite my bone

Come on baby, eat the rich
Bite down on the son of a (BEEP)
Don’t mess around, don’t you give me no switch
Come on baby, and eat the rich
Come on baby, and eat the rich
Sitting here in a hired tuxedo
You wanna see my bacon torpedo
Eat it baby, eat the rich

Lemmy. Friggin’ genius. And MTV is stupid. A song that talks about “bacon torpedoes” and implores listeners to “bite the bone,” and you’re worried about the word “bitch” tainting young ears? And we haven’t even got to the lyrics of “Orgasmatron,” which also appears in the film.

The film’s genesis was in the writing room of The Comic Strip, a Saturday Night Live-styled ensemble of British comedians that hosted a successful series The Comic Strip Presents . . . on the BBC’s Channel Four. After five years of ratings success since the show’s 1982 inception — with a cast featuring Adrian Edmonson, Rik Mayall, and Nigel Planer (of MTV’s The Young Ones), along with Dawn French (of The Vicar of Dibley) and Jennifer Saunders (of the French and Saunders comedy team and Absolutely Fabulous) — it was decided the time was right to do a “racier,” feature film — one with a message about Britain’s Thatcherism welfare state and the nationalism of the U.K.’s tightly-regulated economy.

Yeah, this is going to be comedic gold.

Eat the Rich was written and directed by Peter Richardson (aka Spider Webb of the very funny, late ’80s metal parody band/TV series Bad News with Rik Mayall) as a follow up to the comedy troupe’s feature film debut, The Supergrass (1985). Richardson set his Pythonesque, black comedy in a future, fascist London concerning a terrorist faction looking to derail the upcoming Prime Minister elections and overthrow the Conservative Party.

Involved in the political intrigue is Alex (Pillay) a fired, disgruntled server at Bastards, an exclusive restaurant. Finding refuge in the Party, Alex strikes back at the cultural elite with a ragtag group of Robin Hood-styled anarchists who return to the restaurant and kill the clientele and staff — and serves up the bodies of those dead Yuppies to Yuppies, as the rechristened Eat the Rich becomes the talk of London. (For those who care: Lemmy is Spider, the sidekick of a Russian double agent, who learns of the eatery’s secret menu and plans to stop the Conservative-cannibal carnage.)

Yeah, this is going to be comedic gold. Not.

However, in the film’s defense, the politically uncorrect religious, political, and social classes humor is totally British — and even my own personal, steady dozes of U.S. Public Television-broadcasted Brit-coms, such as Doctor in the House, The Goodies, Are You Being Served, Keeping Up Appearances, and The Young Ones wasn’t enough to prime my inner joke box. Sure, the story’s literal take of Conservatives “eating” the non-Conservatives for their own person gain is an interesting approach — but it’s just not funny. Reflect back on some of the SNL-bred movies of the ’80s: Corky Romano, Night at the Roxbury, Superstar. Yeah, it’s like that: a well-made, affably-acted effort that, never the less, falls flat. BURP!

Why New Line Cinema opted to bring the film to U.S. shores for a theatrical release is anyone’s guess (surely not for the Motorhead connection; did they think they had the next RuPaul on their hands with Lanah Pellay?). But after pulling in just over $200,000 on four screens in Los Angeles and New York, the film was pulled and dumped onto the home video market via RCA/Columbia. Again, British humor works, for U.S. audiences, in a half-hour format on public television — not in an hour and a half film.

And it didn’t work in Britain either: Eat the Rich is rated as one of that country’s “50 Greatest Cinematic Flops.” Channel Four subsequently kiboshed plans for The Comic Strip’s third feature film, Five Go To Hell. And there hasn’t been a film since. The troop folded up the tents in 2000, reactivating from 2005–2016.

But it’s not all awful, for there are a few magical moments . . . when the Motorhead kicks in, natch: A DHSS office is stormed and robbed to the beat of “Nothing Up My Sleeve”; Lemmy, aka Spider, and his Russian boss ride their cycles through the British countryside while the title track from Motorhead’s seventh studio album, 1986’s Orgasmatron, plays in the background; at a dinner party, Motorhead takes to the stage and plays another cut from Orgasmatron, “Doctor Rock.” (“Built for Speed” and a live version of “On the Road” also appears in the film). Pillay’s cabaret-parody, which hit the British Top 100 and Australia Top 20, “Pistol In My Pocket,” also appears.

In the wake of revisiting this film all these years later — an after reviewing the Sex Pistols in 1980’s The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle this week as part of “Rock ‘n’ Roll Week II” — perhaps if Eat the Rich was made during punk’s heyday, with Johnny Rotten in Al/Lanah Pellay’s disgruntled waiter role recruited by a political terrorist group . . . and with, say, Adam Ant instead of Lemmy, and a couple guys from the Clash — with them beating up Billy Idol as the Prime Minister to-run (as an in-joke for selling out to American radio) — we could have had ourselves a twisted, politi-punk version of Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, instead of an unfunny, dead-in-water Rock ‘N’ Roll Hotel.

Where’s Roger Corman when you really need him?

Lemmy followed up his acting debut in Eat the Rich with a role as an aquatic taxi driver in Hardware (1990), as an ex-school newspaper reporter in Airheads (1994), as the narrator in Lloyd Kaufman’s Tromeo and Juliet, and as Joe in Down and Out with the Dolls (2001).

You can readily stream Eat the Rich on Amazon Prime and You Tube Movies. You can roll the full albums of Orgasmatron and Rock ‘n’ Roll on You Tube, as well. Clips from the film abound on the platform as well.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.