6.16.2009

I Thought He'd Be Bigger

I bought the DVD for Road House a long time ago on a whim, simply because it's easily one of my favorite action movies from the 80s. I think I watched it once, after I bought it and then was content to let it sit there on my shelf next to American Ninja and Revenge of the Ninja, advertising to the world that, hey, this guy liked Road House enough to buy the damn DVD. Patrick Swayze as the mother of all bad ass bouncers (excuse me; "coolers") with Sam Elliot as some kind of red neck Yoda to Swayze's back woods Skywalker? What more could a teen age boy from Texas in the 80s possibly want from a movie? Nothing, that's what. Well, ok, fine, a strip tease from the absolutely stunning Julie Micheals didn't exactly sour the movie's appeal for me. In the early 90s, I wager I watched Road House a few dozen times, at least. Something about the country boy charm of Dalton and the badassery that is compulsive throat ripping just really clicked with me. So it was with no small amount of excitement that I broke out my Road House DVD to introduce my wife to the seedy world of high stakes bouncing and cooling.

The funny thing about watching it with my wife, apart from us both having a good laugh at the movie as a whole, is how many interesting thoughts popped into my head as I watched it. For one thing, it occurred to me that you could pull the entire Brad Wesley "save the town from big bad evil man" plot line out and you would actually still have an interesting film. I find the idea of someone coming into a hell hole of a bar and progressively weeding out the filth unreasonably fascinating. I have often heard jokes that Road House is the Godfather of bouncer films and watching it with that in mind makes you kinda understand why. Everything that happens inside the Double Deuce (that doesn't involve Wesley's flunkies) is something I have actually seen go down in my years of bar hopping around Dallas. So I find myself pondering if someone wanted to make a serious movie about bouncers that got outfitted with Al(abama) Capone and a far too pretty lead actor, instead.

Wouldas, shouldas and couldas aside, though, an evil corrupter of all things pretty and sweet is what we get in the form of Brad Wesley, played to the nines by Ben Gazzara as a cross between Al Capone and Tony Montana mixed with a little bit of Deliverance for flavor. Not coincidentally, I am sure, Gazzara actually played Capone once, but I digress. Wesley, to me, is a character that makes no sense. If you want to be a crime lord, why in god's name would you pick some back water town in Kansas? Not only that, but if you lived in said back water town and realized you had a guy like that trying to do what Wesley was trying to do, why would you stay?? It's Kansas, people! Pack up your kids, burn down the house and drive to the next back water Kansas town, which I feel pretty confident will be very much like the one you left only minus a redneck gangster and his reject from the village people "enforcer", Jimmy.

Speaking of Jimmy, who the hell would be intimidated by a guy with that much hair gel? At one point, he has Dalton in a half nelson and utters the classic line, "I used to fuck guys like you in prison." Dude, you look like you were fucking guys like him, last week. Maybe that was the reason Jimmy was so angry; Dalton wouldn't give up the booty. Now that I think about it, maybe when he yanks Denise away after she hints oh so subtly to Dalton that she may be attracted to him, it was jealous rage behind those eyes. Jimmy simply did not know how to express his love. It's either that or he is just super pissed about being a red neck white guy with every bad fashion trend from the 70s and 80s wrapped up in ONE outfit. That's right, he had a jerry curl, a mullet, a button up "chest hair exposing" shirt and jeans that should have precluded him from being able to produce offspring should he ever decide that he likes women. Even his name is weak. "Run! Jimmy's coming!" See? It just doesn't work.

The icing on the cake is Dalton. The zen bouncer with a philosiphy degree from NYU. Nothing against bouncers, because I have made friends with more than a few, but guys with degrees from NYU do not choose to be career bouncers. Even if you like beating people up and acting like a bad ass, there is more money to be made in security and, personally, I'd rather keep teenage girls from molesting Justin Timberlake than manhandle drunken rednecks six nights a week. I am just weird, that way. Not our boy Dalton, though. He absolutely lives to share his bouncing philosiphy with other would-be bouncers. God help you if you're pissy, dealing dope, skimming the till or fucking bar sluts in the back room on your break, though. Bouncing is serious business and there will be no shennanigans on his watch. As Dalton says, "There's always barber college." Poor Terry Funk. If only Dalton had taken the time to get to know him as a person. Then, again, maybe Morgan would have pulled a gun on him and then Dalton would have had to rip his throat out.

Wait, what? That's right, folks, you pull a gun on Dalton and he'll fuckin kill ya. Not by beating you to death and not by taking your gun away and shooting you with it. No, none of the myriad ways a person as well trained in the art of mortal combat as Dalton seems to be will do for you, sir. You pull a gun on him, he's gonna rip your throat out. The absolute best part of that, though, is the look on his face after he kills Jimmy. I never picked up on it, before, but he has that "Oh, shit!" look that we all get when we've done something we didn't mean to. Ripping people's throats out isn't just a weapon in Dalton's deadly deluge of death; it's a certifiable compulsion. There he is with bits of Jimmy's throat flesh under his finger nails, going "Aw, shit, not again!!" My question is simple - How?? What path did his life take that at some point, his mind decided the only responce to a fire arm is to remove the weilder's larynx though the most direct route? In the climactic showdown between Dalton and Wesley, Wesley pulls a gun and Dalton summarily kicks it out of his hand, moving in for the big finisher. His hand goes up, forms "The Claw" and then he hesitates. You see the emotions going across his face as he battles his sick addiction to giving manual trachiotimies. Again, I have to ask, how fucked in the head are you that this is a tough compulsion to break?

One might argue that this has been entirely too many words about a movie as terrible as I know Road House to be. Fuck you. My blog. The truth is, I think I have a couple more paragraphs of silly observations about this trashy piece of cinematic gold that I won't even get to. Why didn't he take his friend to the hospital, where he was going, anyway? How did "I didn't see nothing" keep the six people standing over Wesley's shotgun riddled corpse out of prison? Why the hell was the car dealership show room filled with ten year old station wagons? Yep, I could go on for pages. I can't though, because I think the polar bear in the corner is in danger of toppling and there's no way I'd be able to get out of the way in time before it fell on me. You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here.