What Lisa Marie Watched Last Night: Road House (dir. by Rowdy Herrington)

The other night, I watched an old Patrick Swayze movie called Road House.  The movie was on Channel 64, which is also known as the Ion Network.  Anyway, the movie started at 8:00 and I was really, really tired for some reason so, as the movie started, I made the mistake of grabbing a pillow and curling up on the couch with the cat and, no offense to the memory of Patrick Swayze but, as soon as he showed up on my TV screen, my eye lid started to get so heavy.  My sister Erin sat down beside me and said, “Are you falling asleep?”  “No,” I said and then I was out like a light.

Luckily, Erin turned on the DVR as soon as she heard the sound of my asthmatic wheeze of a snore so when I woke up at 3 in the morning, I sat up and proceeded to watch the final 80 minutes of Road House.

Why Was I Watching It?

Because almost every guy I know seems to be in love with this movie.  When Patrick Swayze died, I though about Dirty Dancing and Donnie Darko.  But almost every guy I know — from my friend Jeff to my cousins in Arkansas to my boss at work to my online friends on twitter — was going, “Road House!”  So, I watched it to see if I could maybe understand what makes the male mind tick.  Plus, I was bored and really, really tired.  And I couldn’t find the remote to change the channel.  (Turns out it was actually underneath me, lost in the cushions of the couch.)

What’s It About

Patrick Swayze plays Dalton, who is apparently a legendary “cooler,” which apparently is what you call a bouncer who thinks he’s too good to be called a bouncer.  He get hired to be a boun–oh, sorry, a cooler — at a bar called the Double Deuce that is located down in Jasper, Missouri.  So, Swayze goes down there and starts cleaning the place up and then it turns out that the entire town is controlled by Brad Wesley (played with a true joie de vivre by Ben Gazzara) and Wesley wants…well, I’m not sure what he wants, to be honest.  I mean, seriously, I was so tired when I started watching this movie.  I’m sure I missed all sorts of nuance and such.  But anyway, Gazzara wants something and Swayze won’t let him have it so there’s a lot of fights at the road house and a car dealer ship gets destroyed and a barn blows up and then eventually Patrick Swayze rips out some guy’s throat with his bare hands.

In between all of this, Swayze recruits his mentor (Sam Elliott) to  come  down and help out.  This leads to Elliott getting murdered but nobody ever thinks to say, “Hey, Patrick — maybe if you had just let Gazzara do his thing, Sam Elliott would still be alive today.”  Also, Swayze romances a local doctor played by Kelly Lynch.  She used to be Gazzara’s girlfriend and she gets upset after seeing Swayze rip out someone’s throat with his bare hands.  But then she ends up skinny dipping  with him about fifteen minutes later so I guess she got over it.

Did I mention that Patrick Swayze rips out someone’s throat with his bare hands?

What Worked

Road House is one of those “so-bad-its-good” type films.  This is a film that sets out to be manly and ends up being so manly that it becomes ludicrous.  But guys are almost always fun to watch when they’re trying to be all guy-like.  (Though not always, as will be discussed under the heading of What Didn’t Work.)

Ben Gazzara is a lot of fun in the role of Brad Wesley.  Seriously, he looks like he had so much fun playing the part.  Usually, it annoys me when a film’s main female character is revealed to be the ex of a total and  complete psycho (and I’m looking at you, Love and Other Drugs) but it totally works here because seriously, Ben Gazzara is the man. 

And Sam Elliott provides all sorts of grizzled, beer-soaked, chain-smoking, unwashed sexiness.

The film features a lot of countryside that doesn’t look much like Missouri but it’s still really pretty.  (Missouri’s really pretty too.  You rock, Missouri!)

Since this film was being shown on television, all of the bare asses and visible nipples were edited out as were all the four-letter words.  However, it was that really weird, half-ass style of editing where you hear Patrick Swayze yelling, “FU—-CK YOU, WESLEY!”  Also, whenever anyone said the F-word, a big blurry dot suddenly appeared over their mouth.  That may not sound like much but at 3 in the morning, it really can cause you to giggle.

At one point, one of the bad guys grabs Patrick Swayze from behind and goes, “I used to FU—-CK Guys like you in prison!”  That line made me laugh way too much.  Plus, the guy saying it was really hot but then Patrick Swayze used his bare hands to rip out of the guy’s throat and that kind of ruined the whole mood.

What Didn’t Work

Well, technically, the entire film didn’t work but that’s kind of the whole point.  Still, for a film that’s supposed to be so bad that it’s good, Road House is still not that good.  It never quite reaches the level of Troll 2 or The Room.  Quite frankly, there’s waaaaaaaaaay too much testosterone rampaging through this movie and the whole time I watched, I kept on thinking about the violence that seems to define day-to-day existence for far too many people. 

Add to that, all of the men seemed to be beating each other up mainly because they were all actually in love with each other but refused to be honest with themselves about it.  Seriously, this movie has some issues.

Plus, Ben Gazzara ends up dead at the end of the film which really upset me because he’s the most likable character in the entire film!  At the very least, he’s got a really nice house.

Both Swayze and Elliott are apparently meant to be legendary bouncers.  They’re so legendary that apparently everyone on the entire planet knows who they are.  Now, I’m curious — are there really legendary bouncers?  I mean, is there like an in-house magazine that all the coolers and bouncers and barmaids subscribe to?  Maybe Patrick Swayze’s character was on the cover a few times.  I mean, I can accept that maybe Swayze would be legendary in a few cities were he had worked but would the citizens of Jasper, Missouri really have the slightest idea who he is? 

“Oh My God!  Just like me!” Moments

Uhmmm…I’m thinking.  There really weren’t any moments that made me go, “Oh my God!  Just like me!”  I mean, I don’t know Tae Kwon Do, I don’t really drink all that much, I’ve never ripped out anyone’s throat with my bare hands, I’ve never fired a shotgun at Ben Gazzara, and I don’t cover myself in body oil before going outside shirtless and practicing Tai Chi.  

Oh, wait a minute!  Much like Kelly Lynch in this movie, I would probably totally freak out if my boyfriend ripped out some guy’s throat.  In fact, I would probably freak out even more than she did.  I mean, even if — like Patrick Swayze in this movie — he made things right by dumping the corpse in a lake and then screaming, “FUCK YOU!” at Ben Gazzara, there’s no way you’d get me to go skinny dipping with him after all of that.  Because the whole time, I would just be like, “That’s great you got everyone to kill Ben Gazzara, sweetie but seriously, I saw you rip someone’s larynx out of their freaking throat.  So, just stand six feet away and keep your hands where I can see them.”

Agck!  Now, I’m kinda freaking out about my own throat.  I mean, is it that easy to do?  *Shudder*  I probably never should have given this that much thought…

Lessons Learned:

Protect your throat at all times.  Seriously, I’m going to start wearing a stainless steel choker every time I leave the house. 


16 responses to “What Lisa Marie Watched Last Night: Road House (dir. by Rowdy Herrington)

  1. Yes, I will admit to being one of those guys who hold a special place in my heart for this craptastic of an action flick from the late 80’s. It hasn’t aged well, but then not many action stuff from the 80’s has but that’s where some of their charm comes from.

    I will say that part of my love for Road House comes from the fact that it also had blues-rock guitarist Jeff Healey and his band performing as the double Deuces’ house band. Jeff Healey is blind and was one kick-ass bluesman.

    I think one of my favorite scenes in Road House has to be when Brad Wesley was shown driving his very 80’s Cadillac convertible down the road and weaving side to side with not a care that he’s probably going to cause a pile up sooner or later.


  2. I meant to mention Jeff Healey under Things That Worked but then I ended up getting sidetracked by Patrick Swayze ripping out that guy’s throat. And I loved that scene with Gazzara driving too. I saw that and I said, “Well, this can’t be the bad guy! He’s way too cool!” 🙂


  3. Haha!! Thats great! I have to say what makes this a guy movie, is that when we were kids everyone thought this movie was awesome. To be honest one reason it didn’t age well over time is it was pretty bad to begin with. But any kind of violence we say big name stars do as kids made it a great movie to a young boy.


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