Road House (1989) (part 15 of 15)

Dalton hears a door open and crouches down. It’s Wesley himself, who calls out to Dalton and turns on a light so we can all enjoy the full splendor of his trophy room. Which contains a stuffed giraffe. The guy is hunting giraffes. Good god. How tough is it to hunt a giraffe? And judging by its height, it’s a baby giraffe at that. Man, the absurdities are piling on fast and thick, and then Wesley just goes and makes my head explode with this:

Wesley: I see you found my trophy room, Dalton. The only thing missing… is your ass.

Wow. Give me a moment here. Sometimes, a line comes along so deliriously awful that I can’t believe I really heard it. Did he really just say he wants to put Dalton’s ass in his trophy room?

And now I’m having sick, demented thoughts, of Patrick Swayze’s flat ass being stuffed and mounted on Wesley’s wall. Oh, that’s a horrible thought. And yet, I think Carrie-Ann would come by to visit Wesley each and every day. In a hypothetical world where Wesley isn’t about to get his comeuppance in the next ten minutes, of course.

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Wesley then yells out, “What’s this about, anyway?” What? Does he think Dalton’s just pissed off about the loud music at his pool parties? Dalton crouches down behind… a buffalo? Note to Wesley: the endangered species list is not meant as a challenge.

Caption contributed by Albert

Screen tests confirmed that Patrick Swayze was a tad bit too old for the lead in Where the Wild Things Are.

As Wesley descends a spiral staircase, getting closer to Dalton’s position, he says he can’t imagine why Dalton is so upset. He claims that all he did was put Garrett “out of his misery”. He approaches the polar bear, which is still pinning the unconscious Tinker to the ground.

Wesley doesn’t know why Dalton would be “mad” about him killing Garrett, since Dalton “took Jimmy.” Sweet, lovable Jimmy. The light of Wesley’s life, forever extinguished. “He was in better shape,” Wesley yells. Because, um, yeah. I don’t know why that’s relevant, actually.

Then he chuckles at the sight of Tinker pinned under that polar bear. “Hell, you took all my boys!” He scans around the trophy room, with his POV shot swaying about wildly like a first person shooter. The soundtrack turns quiet as Wesley approaches a hyena, and then the buffalo that Dalton was hiding behind. A blare of horns sounds as he comes around the buffalo, only to find that… Dalton isn’t there anymore.

Dalton, the crafty son of a bitch, apparently has escaped detection by hiding on the other side of the buffalo, which makes no sense. Why wouldn’t Wesley have seen him just a second ago? Regardless, Dalton rises up and lunges towards Wesley. Wesley gets a shot off on Dalton, wounding him in the shoulder.

Dalton, without skipping a beat, knocks the gun away and begins beating on Wesley with his good arm. Wesley gets kicked onto a sofa that tips over, but he manages to get up and scramble for a large vase, that just happens to contain several large African spears. He tosses a spear at Dalton like a javelin, but Dalton dodges it. Wow. Spear chucking. If this movie were in 3-D, this would be awesome. Well, awesome-er.

Wesley grabs another spear, and uses it to pound on Dalton, almost like it’s a pool cue. What? What else do you use pool cues for in Road House World?

Caption contributed by Albert

“Well, I was saving this for the next time I go whaling, but it’s all I’ve got handy at the moment.”

Wesley has a crazed look in his eyes. He rushes at Dalton with the spear, wildly swinging the spear around, pounding on the white sofas, getting it embedded in a coffee table, and so forth. More spear tactics follow. But Dalton grabs the spear, kicks at it, and splits it in two. He then uses his half of the spear to beat Wesley about the knees and shins. Then, finally, Dalton just wails on this guy who’s at least twenty years his senior.

But Wesley delivers a punch to Dalton’s face, which somehow gets him sprawled out on the floor. Wesley raises his spear, surely about to bring down the death blow, but Dalton kicks him in the knee, taking him down with crippling pain.

Wesley, crouched down on the floor, says he “thought it would be fun” to fight Dalton, but now he just doesn’t “have the time”. Yeah, so many horses to spook. You know how it is. He pulls out another little pistol, from god knows where, but Dalton once again easily kicks the gun away. Jesus, does anybody in this town know how to use a gun?

Dalton gets Wesley down on the couch, and the violins reach a frenetic fever pitch. Dalton lifts his arm, once again forming the throat-ripping Claw. Will he do it? Will he kill in cold blood with his bare hands once again?

There’s tense, thunderous orchestration that might just fool you into thinking Jasper is about to be nuked, right before the entire universe collapses into a single tiny point. But just then, Dalton goes slack. He can’t kill Wesley.

Elizabeth shows up, for absolutely no reason at all. What’s she doing here? Well, from a plot vantage point, the reason is obvious: she’s here purely to distract Dalton. As violins from either Perry Mason or an old ’40s serial wail, she calls out to him, and thus Dalton doesn’t see Wesley go for yet another gun. Does he have like, seven of these strapped to his body at all times? (Actually, it might be the same gun, which Wesley somehow keeps retrieving every time Dalton kicks it out of his hand, but it’s not made clear.)

Instead of simply shooting Dalton, Wesley of course takes time to yell, “It’s over!” Indeed it is. Because a shotgun blast rips into Wesley, stopping him in his tracks.

The shot, it seems, came from Red. Another blast rips into Wesley, and this one came from Emmet. Hmm. I wonder what the Presbyterians would think of Emmet now?

Yep, it’s the Jasper Local Business Owners, all gathered together with their shotguns like an old fashioned lynching is in the offing.

Remarkably, Wesley still gets up after getting hit twice by shotguns, only to meet with more shotgun blasts. Finally, Tilghman steps up to deal the capper line, which mirrors Wesley’s earlier declaration.

Tilghman: This is our town, and don’t you forget it.

He blows Wesley away. Wesley obligingly obeys the Glass Coffee Table Rule, and goes flying through the air, and lands directly on his coffee table, and glass goes flying everywhere. It’s pretty obviously a stuntman landing on the coffee table, but damn, that must have been one dangerous stunt to film.

Caption contributed by Albert

He’s been framed!

Everyone silently nods in an “it is done” sort of way. And then Tinker wakes up, and crawls out from under the polar bear.

A tearful Elizabeth—why is she here, again?—embraces Dalton. Sirens are heard off in the distance. Okay, so now the cops finally show up somewhere? Red gathers up all their shotguns. Now, I’m just curious here. If it was this easy to just blow Wesley away, why didn’t they do it sooner? Like, years ago? Why did they wait until this moment to take him out? After all these many years, what was the catalyst, exactly? Or is this more of that “Dalton’s presence makes everybody’s dreams come true” stuff that Rowdy mentioned earlier? If so, these guys sure had one hell of a dream.

The Sheriff runs in, a puffy guy with silver hair, wearing a suit. He sees the bloody body of Brad Wesley in the coffee table. He demands to know what happened. Predictably, everybody plays coy, with repeated yells of “Naw, I di’nt see nothin’!” and words to that effect.

Caption contributed by Albert

“Now, who’s gonna tell me I’m not Rod Steiger?”

The Business Owners sarcastically ask each other if they saw anything, and it goes around and around the room until they finally ask Tinker if he saw anything. He looks completely stymied, and then he looks over at the wall, where there are four stuffed monkeys. And they’re posed in, no fooling, “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” poses. And I… have no idea what the joke is here. Sorry.

Caption contributed by Albert

And please, don’t ask me what the fourth monkey is about. Stroke no evil?

The Sheriff looks at Tinker expectantly. But all Tinker can say is, “A polar bear fell on me.” And just that quickly, wailing blues-rock returns to the soundtrack, and the Local Business Owners barely constrain their laughter. Yep, that’s it! It’s all over, you see. None of the old guys will admit to anything, and Tinker didn’t see anything. And surely, there’s no forensic evidence that could possibly indicate a crime took place here. They’re all free. Free, I tell you!

And yes, this means the last line in Road House is “A polar bear fell on me.” I challenge you to find a more bizarre final line to any movie, in any era. Go ahead and try. It can’t be done.

It’s back to Jeff Healey, and his lap guitar ways. He’s singing Bob Dylan’s “When the Night Comes Falling from the Sky” at the Double Deuce. During this, there’s a daytime shot of Dalton and Elizabeth cavorting in the lake. And if you look closely, Jeff Healey is also there on the shore, sitting on a picnic blanket (or is that one of Elizabeth’s dresses?). Oh, and did I mention that both Dalton and Elizabeth are completely naked here? For once, I’m envying Jeff Healey for being blind.

They make out in the water, both of them with long, wet hair, looking like two sea otters mating, in a shot that seems to have been designed purely for inclusion in the trailer.

Caption contributed by Albert

Let’s hope they don’t notice Jimmy’s body floating past. That might kill the mood.

Then, just as randomly, it’s back to Jeff performing at the Double Deuce. Was that a flashback? A flashforward? A very strange dream sequence from young Mr. Healey? Anybody know? Or care? The credits roll over Jeff and his lap guitar rock god ways. Of course, the guitar playing on the soundtrack doesn’t quite match Jeff’s movements. Especially when we hear notes being picked while Jeff strums away. Hey, give them a break. Synchronizing movie footage to music is hard!

Actually, a little later we hear a second guitarist on this song. Not to mention, female backup singers. Wow. It’s good to see that the invisible backup band from Eegah is still around, even after all these years.

The rest of the credits play out over deathly dull, single-camera footage of the band. The only entertainment to be had here is when the credits list characters with names like “Gawker”, “Heckler”, “Loudmouth”, and the immensely descriptive “Bar Character”. Well, the good news for the guy who played Bar Character in Road House is that he can pretty much claim to be anybody in the movie, and no one would be the wiser.

I wanted to include some words on the trailer, which actually contains footage from some of the deleted scenes. But guess what? There’s no trailer on the deluxe edition! Meaning, I actually have to go out and buy the non-deluxe edition if I want to see the trailer. WTF? Well, that’ll have to be saved for a future date.

Regardless, this film is amazing. There’s just no way around it. I know this is supposed to be a site devoted to bad movies, but this isn’t exactly what I’d call a bad movie. Yeah, it’s occasionally sloppy, and sometimes stupid, and constantly ridiculous, but it can’t really be called “bad”, because it accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do. It’s not so bad it’s good—it’s just good. It’s not a guilty pleasure—it’s just a pleasure. I now decree that anyone feeling ashamed of liking Road House may proudly hold their heads up high.

But if you enjoy this movie as much as I do, you would do well to stay away from the sequel, Road House 2: Last Call. It plays like a generic action script that somebody dusted off, added a few famous lines from Road House to it, and called it a Road House sequel. That’s not really the case, though; From everything I’ve read, the script was always supposed to be Road House 2, but it sure doesn’t seem like it.

And of course, all the lines re-used from Road House (“Pain don’t hurt,” “Opinions vary,” “I’ll get all the sleep I need when I’m dead,” the “three rules” speech, “I thought you’d be bigger,” etc.) all land with a thud.

Reportedly, Patrick Swayze was actually supposed to appear as Dalton in Road House 2, helping his son (played by Jonathon Schaech) take down yet another small-town crime lord. (Schaech is only 17 years younger than Swayze, and Dalton doesn’t mention having a son in the original film, so this makes no sense.) For unknown reasons, Swayze backed out after production was already underway, and the script had to be hastily rewritten. Schaech still plays Dalton’s son, but when the movie begins, his dad has already been killed off.

So, they have this beloved cult hit in Road House, and what do they do in the sequel? They kill off the main character. Off-screen, even. Way to understand the appeal of the source material, gang. Hopefully, one day Swayze can be persuaded to make a real Road House sequel, and we can forget that one ever happened. Actually, I think most people who saw it have already forgotten about it.

As for Patrick Swayze, he’s still working hard, mostly playing smaller roles in low budget films. I even heard a story not too long ago about Swayze finally hearing the “Let’s Have a Patrick Swayze Christmas” song from Mystery Science Theater 3000, and laughing his ass off at it. He seems like a genuinely good guy, but let’s face it: He has enough terrible movies on his résumé to keep the Patrick Swayze Christmas tradition going for years to come.

In fact, this year he had a sizable role in Christmas in Wonderland, a Home Alone-style comedy featuring Chris Kattan, which is apparently so bad it’s only getting a wide theatrical release in Russia [!]. So… it’s Patrick Swayze in a Christmas movie? A bad Christmas movie, at that? By any chance, does Patrick pick his roles with this website in mind?

Multi-Part Article: Road House (1989)

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