Apr 27, 2018
Road House (1989) (part 14 of 15)
The next day, Dalton pulls up to the Double Deuce. Strangely, he’s driving his Mercedes with the New York plates again. According to Rowdy, it’s because he’s decided that “it’s time to get out of town”. If that’s the case, why did he bother to come back to the Double Deuce? Does he need to clean out his desk or something? Hey, he may have killed somebody, but no way is he leaving town without his Newton’s Cradle.
Strangely, Dalton is also back in his Luke Skywalker wrap-around blouse for this scene. Alas, no explanation from Rowdy is forthcoming.
The phone rings, and Dalton runs to answer it. Again, he just killed somebody! Giving directions from the I-71 really should be low on his priorities right about now.
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Thankfully, he does answer the phone, because it’s Brad Wesley. Wesley greets him with a very odd “Top of the morning to you!”
Then he offers Dalton a choice: “Wade, or Elizabeth?” Apparently, “one of them dies,” and he wants Dalton to choose. Well, let’s see. One’s a pretty hot babe and really good in the sack… and the other is Elizabeth. So, go ahead and take out Elizabeth.
No, Dalton refuses to choose, and calls Wesley sick. So Wesley says he’ll just flip a coin. “Hold on a second,” he says, as he actually takes a moment to fish a coin out of his pocket and flip it. Hah! He refuses to say how the coin toss turned out, and simply hangs up on Dalton. That was a classic bit. The only thing more classic would be Wesley shaking a Magic 8-Ball, and then saying, “I’m sorry, Dalton, but all signs point to yes.”
Speak of the devil, Wade Garrett suddenly enters the Double Deuce. I wonder if his ears were burning just now? Actually, it appears his entire body is burning, because he’s just been beaten to within an inch of his life.
He reveals that three guys jumped him, and Dalton dotes on him, dabbing at the blood on his face. I guess Wesley had Garrett beaten up, but why we would he do that? And didn’t Wade say just a few scenes ago that he was getting out of town?
Never mind all that. Dalton immediately assumes that Elizabeth is the one Wesley’s going to kill. I’m not sure what makes him draw that conclusion, unless in the world of rural crime, “heads” always means “kill” and “tails” means “beat senseless”.
He tells Garrett to stay put while he goes and finds Elizabeth. But before he leaves, he says, “Wesley wins, man. We’re outta here.” Oh, that won’t be bittersweet or ironic or poetic or anything like that in just a few minutes.
Dalton finds Elizabeth at the hospital, looking over x-rays. He tries to get her to leave town with him, but she refuses. He tries to drag her out, but she stands her ground.
Dalton: Doc, the man is crazy.
Elizabeth: And you’re not?
Elizabeth: And you’re not?
Yeah, I suppose when you rip out a guy’s throat in front of your woman, you can’t be too surprised if she doesn’t look at you quite the same way. So it seems it’s over between the two of them, and Dalton drives back to the Double Deuce alone.
Which begs the question: Why didn’t he take Garrett with him to the hospital (other than to set up the dramatic moment we’re about to get)? I mean, Garrett’s seriously injured; it would have made perfect sense to bring him to a hospital.
Well, as you should know by now, “perfect sense” is not a phrase that belongs in any description of this film. Dalton enters the Double Deuce and sees Garrett sprawled out on the bar. He chuckles, thinking Garrett is asleep, but we know better, don’t we?
He flips Garrett over, finding a huge knife embedded in Garrett’s chest. Swayze emotes like crazy here, fully earning his paycheck. There’s also a note attached to the knife that hilariously says, “It was tails”.
As a tear rolls down his cheek, Dalton yanks out the knife, followed by an “artsy” shot where a stream of blood runs across Garrett’s tattoo. Next thing we know, an enraged Dalton is jumping into his Mercedes, knife in hand.
(Garrett’s tattoo features the word “Rose”, and Rowdy describes a deleted sequence where Garret talks about “how he blew it with his one true love, Rose,” and how he didn’t want Dalton to make the same mistake. And here I thought it was just a shout-out to Garrett’s favorite Golden Girl.)
Cut to Wesley’s estate, where all of his goons are sitting outside, holding shotguns. For what purpose, I can’t guess. Just guys, hanging out with guns, it seems. They’re having a typically sparkling conversation about a blonde who could “suck-start a Harley”, when suddenly Dalton’s car comes racing up the road.
“There he is,” one goon says, so I guess that explains the shotguns; they were expecting him, I think. The car plows through the front gate, so all the goons begin blasting away at it. The car keeps coming. They keep blasting away. Finally, it gets to an inner gate, and the goons get scared and run out of the way.
And when the car gets to the inner gate, hilariously, it flies up in the air just like it went over a ramp (yeah, “just like” that), and one goon blasts the car with a shotgun until the damn thing just explodes into a massive fireball. Because when all is said and done, this is still a Joel Silver production, and “massive fireball” is a phrase that does belong in descriptions of each and every one of his movies. The flaming carcass of the Mercedes rolls to a stop.
The goons run up with guns at the ready, but the driver’s seat is empty. Dalton is nowhere to be found. No, he hasn’t teleported away; it turns out he wedged the knife (the same knife used to kill Garrett) between the brake pedal and the gas pedal, and let the car race off without a driver. Now, that is seriously an amazing alignment, that can keep a car going that straight for that long without anybody steering it. Over grass, too!
The goons realize they’ve been had. One goon (who you might recognize as Right Boot from an eternity ago) grunts, “Find that prick!” Then Right Boot takes the knife and hilariously stashes it in a holster on his belt. Now, it might take guts to kill a guy and leave behind the murder weapon, but it takes massive, gargantuan, Times Square-sized balls to keep the holster for the murder weapon strapped to your body.
And with this, we begin one final, ecstatic symphony of violence, as Dalton begins his one-man onslaught against Fort Wesley.
Right Boot comes around an ivy-covered corner… and finds Captain Morgan sprawled out on the back patio. Morgan, who we just saw up and around less than ten seconds of screen time ago, is now suddenly dead, with no explanation of when or how. Nice editing.
So Right Boot proceeds with caution, quietly stepping inside the house and through the kitchen. Here he finds O’Connor the Bleeder, similarly incapacitated, also with no explanation.
(On the commentary, Rowdy sets the record straight: “I actually shot all the henchmen getting knocked out. But the picture was too long. So, we decided, in order for brevity, to get to the part that was the most exciting, just have him come along and discover these guys are knocked out, man by man.” That’s no excuse. I sat through this whole movie, and I deserve to see the downfall of Captain Morgan and O’Connor the Bleeder!)
Right Boot quietly creeps on into the TV room, which has a luxurious wood panel entertainment center like the kind you could win on The Price is Right. He crouches down, poking around a little bit with his shotgun. When he stands back up, Dalton has magically appeared right behind him.
Right Boot apparently has his own Dalton Sense, because he whirls around and fires. But Dalton kicks at the shotgun, causing him to take out a poor defenseless lamp instead. Dalton quickly relieves the guy of the shotgun, so Right Boot takes out his Garrett-killing knife and lunges at Dalton. It’s kung fu tai chi poses all around, because, naturally, all of Wesley’s goons are well-versed in martial arts.
Dalton kicks the knife out of Right Boot’s hand, then grabs the guy by the throat. And here’s a neat trick: When Dalton kicks the knife away, it goes flying off to the side, and then suddenly it’s falling down from above for Dalton to catch it. Wow! How’d he do that?
He shoves the knife into the guy’s gut, and fires up the old Irony-O-Matic, which outputs the following: “Tails again!” Hah! You sure told him, Dalton!
On a balcony above them, a shotgun is loudly pumped. Dalton, with his keen sense of hearing, detects this blaringly loud noise. He spins around quickly, so that Right Boot, already having something of a bad day, becomes a human shield and ends up taking the shotgun blast. Now, I’m thinking a shotgun fired that close probably should have gone through Right Boot and hit Dalton anyway. But this movie clearly isn’t taking place in the real world. He ripped out a guy’s throat with his bare hand. Why start expecting realism now?
In case you’re wondering, the guy up on the balcony with the shotgun is Pat the Skimming Bartender. So to bring it all full circle, Dalton yanks the knife out of Right Boot, and throws it at Pat. Pat catches it right in the belly, and here it comes, this movie’s very first railing death! Pat tumbles over the balcony and lands hard on the floor with an off-screen thud.
And now we cut to Brad Wesley, and lord knows where he’s been all this time. He wanders through the darkened rooms of his mansion, pistol in hand. He surveys two of the bloody corpses littered around his home, smirks, and shakes his head. He continues confidently strolling around his house.
Meanwhile, Tinker enters a room, scared shitless, his eyes lolling all about in his head. He steps inside, and it turns out he’s in Wesley’s trophy room, which is filled with literally dozens of dead animals, all stuffed and mounted.
Tinker groans to himself, “I hate this place!” And here’s the thing, among the animals, we see that Wesley actually has a stuffed monkey. Now, who in the hell hunts monkeys? I mean, are they really that hard to kill? And surely they must be considered endangered by somebody, somewhere, right?
And then, it gets even more ridiculous: a stuffed polar bear—yes, a polar bear—suddenly comes rolling towards Tinker. Being the buffoon that he is, or that the movie needs him to be at this moment, he expresses fear in a very Jackie Gleason-esque way, and then begins shooting wildly. At the dead polar bear. Which then topples over onto him, pinning him to the ground and knocking him out cold.
This is all quite surreal. This might possibly be the most surreal use of polar bears ever, easily topping the first season of Lost. Just let the concept of somebody going all the way up to the Arctic Circle on a hunting expedition sink in for a moment.
A spooky Dalton appears, lit from below, revealing that it was he who pushed the polar bear around. He finishes off this nonsensical scene with the nonsensical quip, “You’re made for each other.” Okay, what? Any guesses, anybody? I’m not a fan of fat jokes, but I would love for this to be a fat joke, because that’s the only thing that comes close to making any sense.