They couldn’t have built “Road House” without Swayze

Bitter, Bitter Balcony, Movie Review, Road House 1989David Lee HenryRowdy HerringtonPatrick Swayze,Kelly Lynch,Sam Elliott,Ben Gazzara Road House(1989)

"Road House" has everything. I successfully avoided this 1989 jewel for nearly 20 years, but bam - Thanksgiving eve, I lost my "Road House" cherry. So while the world mourns the tragic passing of Patrick Swayze, let’s raise a glass and count the ways in which “Road House” kicks ass.

  1. The Swayzmeister is Dalton, bouncer extraordinaire (aka “cooler”) and a man so gnarly, he stitches up his own wounds and spouts off such wisdom as “Pain don’t hurt.” Does Dalton want regular or decaf coffee? “Unleaded!”

  2. Ah, the ‘80s. Everyone in “Road House” wears “mom jeans” (pulled up to under the nips) including the men. The women have Loni Anderson hairdos and Home Shopping Network earrings.

  3. The bad guys are easy to spot: the sleeves are torn off their shirts BEFORE they get into fights.

  4. Dalton does topless tai-chi in tight sweatpants while his landlord, a lonely farmer, looks on in appreciation. Uncomfortable.

  5. Ben Gazzara is the town bully who sings “Sh-Boom” as he zigzags down the highway in his convertible. He has henchmen, of course, and they hench in style . . . see No. 6.

  6. One of Gar Bezzena’s (it’s fun to say) henchmen drives a jacked-up monster truck a la Big Foot – no reason given, that’s just how he rolls.

  7. The Double Deuce, the club Dalton is hired to clean up, is so tough that the talent (played by legendary blind blues guitarist-vocalist Jeff Healey) sings behind a cage as beer bottles crash into the wire. Ouch.

  8. Sam Elliott is the worldly Wade Garrett, Dalton’s mentor and BFF. You didn’t know “coolers” had mentors, did you? Have a seat, grasshopper.

  9. Kelly Lynch, Dalton’s love interest, wears Sally Jesse Raphael glasses. Their “love scene” involves a lot of standing up – proof that both are in top physical form even though Dalton fires up a cigarette for breakfast. Ah, the ‘80s.

  10. The always-awesome X frontman John Doe plays a sleazy Double Deuce bartender who skims the till – until Dalton rats him out. Hmmph!

And there are dozens more reasons “Road House” is a TNT Saturday afternoon rerun fav and one of Patrick Swayze’s best films. “Road House” takes all the wincingly-bad things we hated about the ‘80s and packs them into a fairly decent, though unbelievable, action film. I didn’t like Patrick Swayze until the memorable Chippendale’s “SNL” skit he performed to perfection with the late and so-very-missed Chris Farley. But after finally watching “Road House,” I own it on DVD and VHS (just in case) and have told “Road House” virgin friends that they cannot watch this movie without me. I have to be there when they lose it, too.



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