Road House (1989) (part 8 of 15)
So, we’ve got Zen bouncers, tai chi, ass-kickings, and a hot lady doctor. You know, I’m trying to think of the one thing that could make this movie even better than it already is. Hmmm, what could it be?
Well, we soon find out. Over at Brad Wesley’s place, two vehicles pull up: an old Eagle sedan, and… a big monster truck. That’s it! That’s it, exactly. Oh man. You know a movie’s good when it features a big monster truck (in this case, a Bigfoot 4×4). Out of these vehicles step the same motley crew of goons that tried to get Pat the Skimming Bartender re-hired. They’re all looking bruised and battered from getting Dalton-ized over at the Double Deuce.
Brad Wesley meets them at the door, again backed up by his Denim Loving Goon. These two are kind of inseparable, aren’t they? I guess the implication is that Denim Lover is like Wesley’s personal attack dog. And I could make all kinds of innuendo about the true nature of their relationship, and believe me, I will.
For now, Wesley sighs at his goons, looking over the broken lot of them. He begins mildly chewing them out for failing, e.g., I send you out to get my nephew re-hired, and you can’t do this one… simple… thing. He puts a hand on Denim Lover’s shoulder, saying he should have sent “Jimmy” instead. Wow. “Jimmy”. That’s quite a threatening name for a vicious attack dog goon.
But oddly enough, this means Jimmy has exactly the same first name as Dalton, so… yeah. Still not a threatening name. It almost makes me think Jimmy is supposed to be the anti-Dalton, because it’s their climactic clash that brings the film to a thunderous conclusion. But I doubt anybody was thinking that hard about it. I’m pretty sure it’s coincidence.
Now Wesley is demanding that one of his goons, any one of his goons, apologize for failing. Sweaty CAT Guy immediately apologizes. Wesley calls him “Tinker”, and says he believes his apology is heartfelt. Deep Voice Guy also apologizes, but Wesley doesn’t think “O’Connor” is being quite as sincere.
He dresses the guy down, and O’Connor is completely groveling. Wesley says, “You disgust me, O’Connor, you wanna know why you disgust me?” Then he punches O’Connor in the nose, causing him to bleed profusely.
“Because you’re a bleeder,” Wesley says. “You bleed too much!” Um, okay, and I’m sure he can… work on that? I mean, come on, only a pussy clots that slowly! And really, Pat was the one who started bleeding spontaneously before Dalton even hit him, so how is O’Connor the “bleeder” in this group?
Wesley then knees him in the groin, and pounds on his head, and the guy crumples to the ground. So, this is the mandatory scene in every Joel Silver movie where the villain, who’s obviously no physical match for the hero (even when the hero is Patrick Swayze), beats the crap out of one of his own men just to prove his mad fighting skillz. I never thought the words “Ben Gazzara” and “kung fu powerhouse” belonged in the same sentence, but according to this movie, the guy has fists of steel.
Then Wesley does this super-evil move, where he makes like he’s Mr. Nice Guy, and has the other goons help the guy up and dust him off and everything. But it’s just an eeeeeeevil fake out, because Wesley instantly knocks the guy out cold. He tells his goons to “get this piece of shit coward out of here!”
Now, you’d think that would be the last we see of O’Connor. But no, he actually shows up a few scenes from now, still working for Wesley. I guess in a town with a population of 500, you can’t really be too choosy about who you hire on as a goon. So I guess the bleeding thing is not much of an issue, after all.
Cut to one of Wesley’s goons coming out of Red’s Auto Parts. This goon was in the last scene—I recognize him by his very interesting attire, which consists of a dress shirt and tie. I’m guessing he got laid off from the local shoe store, and to make ends meet he took up the goon trade, but lacked the savings to buy a whole new wardrobe.
He gets in a car with Jimmy. At that same exact moment, Dalton drives up. He’s there just in time to see them grinning evilly at him as they pull away.
Dalton heads inside, and he’s wearing a strange, wrap-around shirt, the likes of which I’ve never seen on a guy other than Mark Hamill. It’s a bizarre wardrobe choice, even taking into account that it’s 1989.
Inside the store, ominous chords and scattered merchandise let him know that strange things are afoot at Red’s Auto Parts. But then Red appears with a mop, and explains that this happens to him every week. Yep, it’s a good old-fashioned protection racket, courtesy of Brad Wesley. Except, Wesley does it under the pretense of the “Jasper Improvement Society”. A protection racket with an innocuous name? It’s like a homeowner’s association!
Dalton asks if all the businesses in town have to pay.
I’m gonna go ahead and guess… yes?
Weirdly, there’s a moment in here where Dalton randomly looks at a wall, and hanging there is a framed, black and white portrait of Dr. Clay. Minus the braided ponytail and the austere round SJR glasses, of course, which makes it damn near impossible to recognize her. It’s only repeated viewings that have made the connection clear to me.
And to make matters worse, Dalton doesn’t say anything about the photo at all. There’s not even the barest hint of recognition in his eyes. If the goal was to establish the relationship between Red and Dr. Clay for later in the movie, they fell way short.
Then, suddenly, we’re seeing loads of naked, surgically augmented boobies. Whoa. I thought I’d seen it all, but this movie keeps finding new ways to surprise me.
We’re in a bar holding a “wet G-string contest”. It’s rather a unorthodox theme, which is confirmed by the banner in the background, where someone crossed out “T-Shirt” in “Wet T-Shirt Contest” and painted in “G-String”. I can only imagine the event planning that resulted in this hastily improvised banner. Hey, Jimbo, this sign here says Wet T-Shirt Contest, but they ain’t wearin’ no shirts! What we gonna do?
Guys hoot and howl in the background, and watching over this tableau is a grizzled man with long gray hair, and a weeks’ worth of gray stubble. It’s Sam Elliott, everybody! And we can tell by his tight black t-shirt that he, too, must be a cooler. Perhaps also one of the best. I’m not really sure, though. I haven’t checked the national rankings lately.
There’s a completely bizarre shot of a bartender using a straight razor to cut the foam off mugs of beer. What?
Sam Elliott hears a cry of “chaaaaarge!” and has to stop a guy in camouflage fatigues from rushing the stage. And as it turns out, the entire place is filled with guys in camouflage. And several of them are holding assault rifles [?]. What an insanely random scene this is. Which, of course, makes it just like every other scene in the movie.
Sam grabs the chaaarge guy, calling him “Rambo” and shoving him back down in his seat. Sam even works in a mention of the “commies” into his stern warning, because hey, it’s the ’80s. Patrick Swayze hadn’t defeated the Communists yet. Well, he did in Red Dawn, but I’m talking about how he defeated them for real. Then we find out the assault rifles are really water guns, when the overeager commando gets squirted by his friends. It’s still pretty random.
The bartender yells out to Sam, revealing his name is “Garrett”, and that “some guy, name of Dalton” is on the phone. Yes, this is the Wade Garrett. I’m sure all you fans of bouncing are already familiar with the guy, but for the rest of you, Garrett is the cooler that Dalton mentioned way back in the first scene, calling him “the best”. And judging by what unfolds later in this movie, that’s no exaggeration.
Garrett takes the call, letting us know that he’s given Dalton the special pet name of “mijo“. It’s a contraction of the Spanish mi hijo, or “my son”, or “my boy”. According to Rowdy, it was Sam Elliott’s idea to call Dalton that. We see Dalton on the other end, and he’s sitting in a tacky ’60s-style Laundromat with brown, blue, yellow and orange stripes on the walls. The two get caught up on each other’s lives.
(And here’s what Rowdy has to say here: “I thought it was an interesting choice to have this scene be in a Laundromat, showing sort of the practical element of Dalton’s life. He’s still gotta do his laundry.” Yes, as opposed to all the sonnet-writing he does the rest of the day.)
But this isn’t just a social call for Dalton. He asks if Garrett has ever heard of a guy named Brad Wesley. What, he’s a celebrity? Of course Garrett’s never heard of him—why would he? Anyone who spends large amounts of time spooking horses with his helicopter probably doesn’t have a rep outside of his limited Jasper-esque sphere of influence.
Dalton is troubled, but Garrett is oblivious. Completely unrelated to their conversation, Garrett says, “This place has a sign hanging over the urinal that says, ‘Don’t eat the big white mint!'” Ah, crap. I thought it tasted funny.
Speaking of oblivious, Garrett is totally unaware of a fistfight breaking out directly behind him. So I guess this is your dose of wacky hijinks for the hour. Hope it’s enough to hold ya! Garrett has understandably gotta go, and he quickly gets off the phone.
For the nine millionth time, we transition to another night at the Double Deuce accompanied by the sound of the Jeff Healey Band beating another ’60s rock-soul classic into the ground. This time around, it’s “Knock on Wood”.
However, there’s something different this time. This time, it’s Carrie-Ann on lead vocals. Yes, Carrie-Ann. Now, I won’t dispute that she has a good voice, and it really is Kathleen Wilhoite singing (she actually went on to release a couple of albums). I just find it amazing that the Double Deuce has gone from having chicken wire in front of the band, to letting the waitresses perform from time to time. All they need now is line-dancing, and pretty soon this place is going to become the new Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace.
(On the commentary track, Rowdy discusses finding out that Kathleen Wilhoite could sing, and “we thought it was a nice idea if she actually did a song in the picture, kind of to show with Dalton’s arrival, everybody’s blossoming, and getting to do things that they’d really like to do.” Wow. Just… wow. Dalton not only cleans up the rough element, but he inspires everyone in Jasper to follow their dreams. He’s the Tony Robbins of bouncers.)
The camera scans around the bar, and the place is slowly but surely shaping up. I feel warm inside. Dalton is there in his tight black shirt, leaning against the bar. And walking up to him and touching his shoulder, it’s… Super Platinum Slut! And she’s wearing… a tube dress! Surprise!
She asks why Dalton won’t look her in the eye. He replies, “I’m shy.” We noticed. Especially when you were walking around naked in front of your co-workers.
Then she propositions him. Actually, “proposition” might be too nice of a word. She says, “Would you be shocked if I said, ‘Let’s go to my place and… fuck?'” And all of a sudden, saying you’d like to get “nipple to nipple” with a woman is looking downright classy.
She adds, “It ain’t gonna kill you.” This last point is debatable. But before we can learn if Dalton would or would not be shocked if she actually were to say that, good old Jimmy appears and pulls Super Platinum Slut away. Because, just like everybody else in this movie, she has a connection to Brad Wesley. As you might recall, she was on his arm during his wild raging Pink Bathrobe Pool Party from a couple of nights back.
Jimmy holds Platinum Slut by the arm, stares Dalton hard in the eyes, and growls, “Say good night, Denise!” Hey, his name is Dalton, not Denise!