Road House (1989) (part 13 of 15)

Cut to Dalton, down at Emmet’s barn, hands all wrapped in gauze as he angrily kickboxes a two-by-four covered in pillows. Not exactly the Slam Man, is it? When in Jasper, a man must improvise. Garrett shows up, and correctly guess that Dalton’s “all fucked up”. Dalton continues kickboxing, unheeding. I think it’s just now starting to sink in that Wesley boned Elizabeth.

But really, what’s got him so pissed off here? Is it that Elizabeth called Wesley “Brad”? Or is he terrified at the prospect of “goin’ down”? Or does this whole affair remind him of the time when he was a kid, and a big monster truck smashed through his house and killed his parents?

Garrett says they should just leave town. Dalton says Garrett is welcome to leave, but he’s staying. And then he starts to climb a rope. Yes, just like in gym class. No word on whether or not he’s getting a funny feeling, however. Garrett sees him head up to the second level of the barn, and with an exasperated “Fuck,” he climbs a ladder to get up there, too.

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Now Dalton is among the bales of hay, kicking and boxing at a makeshift heavy bag. Garrett again pleads with him to leave, which just makes Dalton angrier. Garrett says he “ought to kick [Dalton’s] ass”, causing Dalton to spin around and hurl his fist at Garrett. But Garrett reaches out and easily stops the punch. He won’t be goaded into a fight, and simply says, “I love you, mijo,” and it’s farewell for Wade Garrett.

Any parting words? He lets Dalton know that “you taught me as much as I ever taught you,” so I guess the pupil has now become the teacher. Original, no? He leaves, and Dalton pounds the shit out of that heavy bag. Drama! Not that I can really figure out where this abrupt shift in tone came from, but hey, whatever.

Caption contributed by Albert

This must be the secret cooler handshake!

(On the commentary, Rowdy has this to say about Garrett stopping Dalton’s punch: “That’s also a scene I’ve seen in other pictures. They say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.” Implying that Road House is the very first time in motion picture history somebody ever reached out and stopped a punch. I can’t think of any examples to disprove this at the moment, but that seems a tad unlikely, don’t you think?)

Later that night, Dalton takes a familiar perch, staring out his window at Brad Wesley’s mansion. Okay, someone’s a little obsessed. Elizabeth enters. She, too, wants him to leave Jasper, but Dalton’s not backing down. He says that somebody in this town has to stand up to Wesley.

She says, “I care about you, Dalton!” But not enough to actually call him by his first name, I guess. And yet, she called Wesley by his first name, didn’t she? I think I’m finally understanding what’s got Dalton so fired up.

“Brad Wesley picked me,” he says, which I’m not understanding. “And when he did, he fucked up!”

Elizabeth can’t figure out who Dalton is doing this for. Neither can I, really. Why’s everyone being so dramatic all of a sudden? All Wesley did was drive a monster truck through a car dealership, and suddenly, Dalton has this huge vendetta, like he’s been waiting his whole life to take down the kingpin of rural Missouri.

And then comes what I can only describe in all sincerity as a ballsy directorial flourish. Elizabeth’s line here is, “You think you’re gonna save these people from Brad Wesley? Well, who’s gonna save them from you?!” And when she says, “who’s gonna save them from you?!“, this massive explosion goes off in the window right behind her. And it’s obvious this particular special effect was done, as they say, in the camera.

Despite all the grief I give this film for being sloppy, that there must have taken a shitload of work, to time her line perfectly, and to get her in the right emotional state to say it, and to have the explosion go off right behind her, all of that happening together and coming off without a hitch. On the commentary, Rowdy confirms this was done in one take, and he “put a lot of pressure on Kelly” to get it right the first time. Which is probably why she looks moments away from having a nervous breakdown in this shot.

And it seems it’s now Emmet’s turn to suffer the wrath of Wesley, because it’s his house that exploded into a massive fireball. Dalton immediately runs out of his window, jumps off the roof, lands on the bales of hay in the back of a pickup truck, and runs towards Emmet’s house.

Caption contributed by Albert

“I rigged some explosives to dramatize exactly how angry I am at you right now! Hey, my acting teacher always said to show, not tell.”

Caption contributed by Albert

To the Dalton-Pole!

The house is now engulfed in flames, and Dalton runs inside looking for the old man. Elizabeth shows up just as Dalton emerges with Emmet across his shoulders. And Emmet just happens to be wearing red long john pajamas, complete with footies. Boy, that’s gotta be embarrassing.

They run from the house, and since this is still a Joel Silver production, as soon as they get clear, the whole place is instantly atomized in a massive fireball. See? I told you Emmet’s place was a front for a meth lab. Didn’t I?

Caption contributed by Albert

Either that, or the Presbyterians are some brutal SOBs.

And of course, Brad Wesley stands on his balcony, watching it burn, baby burn. And he’s in his white fedora again, looking more and more like Rene Balloq.

So, I’m guessing Emmet wasn’t paying the protection money, either? There must be a method to Wesley’s madness here, but I fail to see it. Isn’t he pretty much destroying every single source of income with this all-out onslaught? And how much protection money was he getting, anyway, where he could afford this much C-4?

As the house fire rages behind them, Dalton asks if Emmet is alright. Emmet replies, “I’d be fine if you’d get offa me.” Oh yeah? That’s what she said. Buh doom boom!

Just then, they hear a motorcycle speeding away from the scene. On the bike is Jimmy himself. Instead of making a clean getaway, he actually stops for a brief moment for the sole purpose of, and I kid you not, laughing maniacally to himself. There’s a time and a place to laugh at your own evil-ness, dude. That’s all I’m saying.

Caption contributed by Albert

“‘Dig a hole!’ Hahah! That still cracks me up! Whoo, good times.”

Dalton sees him speeding away. Well, I guess ambling along at 15 mph isn’t exactly “speeding away”, but regardless, Dalton makes a run at Jimmy, cutting a shortcut across the grass. He leaps onto the denim lover, knocking him from his bike. They both immediately jump to their feet and take on kung fu poses.

Jimmy, perhaps not the most creative goon when it comes to menacing catchphrases, tells Dalton to “prepare to die!” Dalton’s reply is somehow even less menacing: “You are such an asshole!”

And the fight begins, with plenty of thudding punches being thrown. Jimmy is apparently well-versed in the Cooler Fu himself, because he utilizes a lot of the same moves as Dalton. They eventually end up on the sand down by the lake, with Dalton giving Jimmy a run-and-jump kick to the face.

There’s lots of wild, roundhouse kicks being delivered in this over-choreographed fight. Jimmy seems to be down for the count, but then he picks up a piece of driftwood and slams it against Dalton’s side. It looks like that was quite a substantial piece of driftwood, because Dalton has the wind totally knocked out of him.

Dalton is now on the receiving end of a savage beatdown. And right in the middle of it, for no reason at all, Jimmy pulls back Dalton’s bloodied face and delivers the following beauty of a line. Read this, read it again, and tell me if you’ve ever heard anything like it.

Jimmy: I used to fuck guys like you in prison!

Wow. Of all the things that intimidate in a fight, you might say a gun, or a knife, or maybe even a large stick. Admitting to gay sex has got to be way down near the bottom, one would think.

Dalton is laid up against a tree, and Homo Jimmy attempts to bring his boot down on Dalton and deliver the death blow. But Dalton jumps out of the way, and Jimmy’s foot ends up wedged in the split trunk of the tree. Dalton uses this to his advantage, snapping Jimmy’s leg against the tree trunk, and then kicking him in the nuts. Accordingly, the tree maneuver is Jimmy’s big undoing, because now Dalton is mercilessly pounding the crap out of him.

Caption contributed by Albert

“Okay, but this is the last time I teach you how I fucked those guys in prison, alright?”

The music reaches a loud crescendo, just as Elizabeth comes running up. Jimmy, sensing defeat is near, pulls up his jeans leg to reveal the small gun he has in an ankle holster. Okay, he waited until now to pull his gun? It hardly matters, because Dalton immediately kicks the gun out of his hand. Okay, now I understand why Jimmy sticks to kung fu. The defensive use of guns seems to be way beyond him.

Then Dalton pins Jimmy’s arm behind his back, and Dalton’s hand forms The Claw. And then this movie reaches new heights of ludicrous when, with his bare hand, Dalton reaches over and pulls out Jimmy’s throat [!].

Jimmy drops instantly, and Dalton kicks him into the water. Elizabeth runs to Jimmy and turns him over, and sees the huge gaping wound where Jimmy’s Adam’s Apple used to be. Right. And how much force would it actually take to rip somebody’s throat out? Can somebody try it and let me know?

Clearly, they all knew how preposterous this was, this idea that someone could perform a tracheotomy with his bare hand. Rowdy confirms the audacity of this on the commentary track, talking about how it was inspired by an urban legend. And while it’s true this is the least plausible thing that happens in Road House, it only beats the 3,000 other implausible events by a hair.

Dalton is pained. It’s Memphis all over again! Elizabeth looks at him, terrified, and runs the hell away as fast as she can. Thanks, Doc! Way to help out the dying man there. So, is it the Hippocratic oath or the hypocritical oath?

Caption contributed by Albert

“Look, I barely bought it when somebody did this with a butter knife.”

Then the rage again takes over Dalton, as he screams out to Wesley. He even grabs Jimmy’s dead body and gets in the water, and begins dragging Jimmy across the lake as he calls out to Wesley. “Fuck you!” he screams. After a few minutes of this, he just gives up and takes off.

Cut to Wesley looking mildly perturbed, followed by a shot of Jimmy’s body, slowly drifting across the lake. Thanks a lot, Dalton! Don’t you know this lake drains into the ocean? Er, you know, that ocean next to Missouri?

Caption contributed by Albert

In the end, he got himself a pool. But what he really needed was a trachea.

Multi-Part Article: Road House (1989)

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  • Linda Thacker

    I am re-reading this for the umpteenth time. Cant stop laughing! awesomely funny!!!

  • Stephanie Hodges-Baker

    I was laughing so hard at this my eyes were watering. Yes, this film is what many a hick would consider a masterpiece of modern cinema.