Road House (1989) (part 10 of 15)
Fade to black, and another bluesy rock tune takes us to yet another night at the Double Deuce. And this is about where I start to feel like Sisyphus, continually pushing this bluesy rock up the hill, almost to the top, only to have the rock come tumbling down again to another night at the Double Deuce, kicked off once again by the Jeff Healey band.
But wait! Things have started to change! I’m actually not trapped in a worst-case Groundhog Day scenario, after all. You see, the signage outside has improved from “rusty shingle” to “high class neon”, with “Double” in a ’50s diner font, while “Deuce” looks like the logo of Card Sharks.
Everything’s looking severely cleaned up since the last time we were here, with loads of yuppie patrons standing outside, waiting behind a velvet rope to get in. Strangely, this is the same development that made Bruce Willis go ballistic in a totally different Joel Silver picture.
To herald this blossoming of yuppie-dom, the tune that Jeff Healey is performing this evening is the movie’s namesake, “Road House Blues”, originally by the Doors. Yeah, you knew they had to perform this song at some point or another.
Meanwhile, more Missouri Valley Girls pull up in a convertible, ecstatic that they’re actually at the Double Deuce. Yuppies with upturned collars head inside. Fat Bouncer out front has got a little counting machine in his hand, and he pumps the button a couple of times as they enter. Hey, Wesley may have the whole town in his pocket, but you do not want the Jasper Fire Marshall on your ass.
Dalton steps inside, and my, how they’ve grown. The bouncers are wearing uniforms. A nice neon “Double Deuce” sign hangs behind Jeff Healey. Three weeks ago, someone would have smashed this sign and used the glass shards to cut a waitress who didn’t want to pay to kiss somebody’s breasts. Let it roll, baby, roll!
Dalton stands at his customary post, and gets his customary cup of coffee. It’s not the customary bartender, however, because Pat the Bartender is gone. In his place is a new bartender played by Keith David, making him this site’s latest Repeat Offender, since he later went on to play “Scary General” in Armageddon.
(On the commentary track, Rowdy explains that Keith David originally had his own entire scene, which got cut. Rowdy describes it thusly: “He comes to the bar with his girlfriend to hear Jeff Healey, and a fight starts with some rednecks, and Dalton comes to his rescue and ends up hiring him. But the picture was too long, and that was one of the sequences that had to go.” Wow, and let’s thank our lucky stars, because that sounds horrible. I can just imagine the dialogue now…
Dalton: Can you pour drinks?
Keith David’s Sassy Girlfriend: Can he pour drinks? Does a snowman have a dick made of snow? By the way, I thought you’d be bigger!
Maybe you can delete the scene from the film, Rowdy, but you can never delete it from my imagination.)
The crowd dances, and much like the Bandstand in its Dalton-induced heyday, the place now contains a surplus of people in Stevie Ray Vaughn hats.
Tilghman heads through the crowd, meeting and greeting. He talks to Keith David, whose name is “Ernie” here, and Ernie tells him they’re running low on liquor. It’s so brutally ironic, Tilghman notes, because now that the place has been cleaned up to neon-tinted perfection, they’re “running out of booze”. Aye, there’s the rub.
Tilghman asks Dalton why the liquor distributors won’t deliver. Dalton connects the incredibly obvious dots, and figures out this is all Wesley’s doing. He gets on the phone, assuring Tilghman that he’ll “take care of it”.
Cut to Dalton leaving the bar after closing time, and Dr. Clay is there in her red jeep to pick him up. They share some bland tender moments. Meanwhile, Wesley’s goons watch from their big monster truck. Which I should note is in the parking lot of the Double Deuce. You know something? That truck is kind of hard to miss. I wonder why Dalton doesn’t immediately suspect something’s up every time he sees it? Is he nearsighted, or just blinded by love?
Inside the truck is good old Jimmy and another goon. Jimmy quips, “Dig a hole!” Apparently this is the height of goon humor, because they both laugh hysterically.
There are tender plucks on guitars, and tinkling pianos, which herald the arrival of Dr. Clay’s jeep at Emmet’s place. For some odd reason, Dalton is driving Clay’s jeep instead of her. I guess in Jasper, Missouri, it just wouldn’t be right for a lady to drive a gentleman to his place. Especially if they’re only going there to have freaky monkey sex. Yeah, sorry to say, that’s exactly what’s coming up next. Try not to let it gross you out too much.
They head inside. Dalton waxes poetic about the loft’s rustic charms, but Clay is already sold. She opens the window and gazes out across the lake, where she sees Wesley’s estate. Meaningful Stare Meaningful Stare Meaningful Stare.
Dalton attempts to set the mood. He turns on the radio, and tunes it to the most obnoxious hair metal ever recorded. I can’t even make out the lyrics, which is probably a good thing. It’s entirely possible that the song is being played backwards. What’s that he’s saying? “It’s fun to smoke marijuana”? Yep, definitely backwards.
Dalton continues moving across the dial, finally stopping at the precise moment when a song starts. Oh, no. Not this song. Any song but this song. No, it’s not a horrible song. In fact, it’s a great song.
Those who have followed this website know that there’s no bigger fan of Otis Redding than I. Otis was first mentioned on this site back when Mae West sang “Hard to Handle” in Myra Breckinridge. Yes, Mae West singing Otis Redding. I still have nightmares.
But I think this moment might actually be worse, because it’s no shoddy cover here—they’re using Otis’ original recording of “These Arms of Mine”. Making matters all the worse, Swayze danced with Jennifer Grey to this exact same song in Dirty Dancing. Which, again, had only come out two years prior to this. That, dear readers, is the height of laziness.
And then it begins: this bizarre mating ritual where Dalton begins removing his clothes, and Clay shyly runs away from him. As he literally stalks her around the loft, Dalton mentions how he saw her picture in Red’s store. It turns out the guy is her uncle. In fact, she says, “He raised me after my parents died.” Exposition by the pound!
We also learn that she was married once, which you may or may not need to remember for later. I’m not entirely sure.
Finally, Dalton pins her up against a wall. He moves in for the kiss, and their faces move closer together, and they dance back and forth, and their lips don’t… quite… touch. Gah! Just kiss her already!
Then things get really gross, and I’m not saying this because I’m a prude, but because every sex scene with Patrick Swayze is gross in that really cheesy way, where you just know overweight moms in Arkansas were practically melting in their drawers while sitting in the theaters. It simply doesn’t get more unsexy than this, folks.
Clay undoes his belt and unzips his pants, and he reaches down and does The Claw with both hands, and pulls up her skirt. And with both of them still fully clothed, they start heaving up and down. And all throughout this, “These Arms of Mine” is still playing, producing an especially sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach, as I desperately try to disassociate what my ears are hearing with what my eyes are seeing.
They make truly disgusting sex faces, and they’re still heaving up and down, and then Dalton brings her over to the bed. Please, just stop it! You’re killing the song! You’re killing my soul! And then, mercifully, it ends. I tell you, just ten more seconds of that and I would have burned my entire Otis Redding CD collection down to the ground.
(And on the commentary, good old Rowdy has to chime in, to let us know it was a particularly hot summer night when they filmed this scene. “We didn’t have to spray ’em down at all. That was real sweat.” Thanks for enhancing the experience for us, Mr. Herrington. Thank you so very much.)