I have a little club outside of Kansas City called the Double Deuce… Used to be a sweet deal. Now it’s the kinda place that they sweep up the eyeballs after closin’.
Welcome to “Cheese-tastic Classics”, a new series here at FMR where I take a look at movies which have that distinctive “L’eau du fromage”… These are movies we all love, and they should be celebrated, but it’s undeniable that they are Cheeeeese-tastic!
What makes a cheesy movie? Damned if I know. You recognize that they’re fun, that you’re enjoying them, but at some level your brain is rebelling saying “Yes, but it’s not actually good”. Somehow though, regardless, you find yourself rewatching it again and again over the years. Killing time happily on the couch even though you’ve seen it 135 times already. These are the movies where the entertainment outweighs any critical brain function. These are the movies that wind up as people’s “Guilty Pleasures” These are Cheese-tastic!
PURE CHEDDAR BABY!!
I can’t open the series with a whimper, that’s not my style! So let’s talk about a Cheese-tastic Classic today! Let’s talk “Road House”!
$5,000 up front, $500 a night. Cash. You pay all medical expenses… I run the show. Completely. When the job’s done I walk.
Dalton’s the best damn cooler in the business.
Played by the late, great Patrick Swayze, Dalton is a Mercedes driving, Tai Chi practicing, cigarette smoking bouncer. He has a degree in philosophy from NYU. He carries his medical records around with him to save time. People keep telling him they thought that he’d be bigger.
Of course the Double Deuce is a hell hole. Aside from having an awesome house band (Jeff Healy), it’s a wretched hive of scum and villany. Dalton walks in on a surveillance mission and literally, there’s a fight breaking out within five seconds. Waitresses are getting manhandled. Drugs are being sold openly. People chuck bottles at the band’s chicken wired cage. It seems one in every three patrons carries a switchblade. The entire place is in a brawl ten minutes into his visit.
The current bouncers and bar staff are too busy hitting on women, sleeping, stealing, and starting fights themselves to keep the bar under control. So Dalton needs to whip them into shape. His first order of business is to fire two of the staff. One for having a bad temper and one for dealing drugs. His second order of business is to lay down some rules.
All you have to do is follow three simple rules. One, never underestimate your opponent. Expect the unexpected. Two, take it outside. Never start anything inside the bar unless it’s absolutely necessary. And three… be nice.
It turns out, though, that it happens to be right across the way from local kingpin Brad Wesley (played by the late Ben Gazzara). As his efforts to reform the bar progress, Dalton’s purposes begin to cross Wesley’s. The local businesses all pay kickbacks to Wesley, who rules the town with his gang of thugs – some of whom are tied in with the Double Deuce staff Dalton is firing.
And so, the time-honored conflict begins. The “evil local land baron” vs. “the new Sheriff in town”. Dalton stands up to Wesley and his goons, and slowly convinces the locals to make a stand as well. Of course, it’s not going to be easy. Wesley cuts off the Double Deuce’s liquor supplies, and keeps sending the goons…
You’re too stupid to have a good time!
Of course, Dalton has a way with the ladies, too.
He attracts Wesley’s woman like a magnet – she practically throws herself at him on multiple occasions, even after Wesley gives her a beating over it. But Dalton’s not interested. He is interested in the Doctor daughter (Kelly Lynch) of one of the local businessman, though. After getting stitched up following one of his many altercations, the two begin to get involved… Eventually, she visits the farmhouse, Dalton calls on the power of Otis, and then shows her he knows how to do more than fight.
Pain don’t hurt.
Dalton stands up for the town and the Double Deuce. Thankfully, his old friend and counterpart Wade Garrett (Sam Elliott) comes to his aid. Garrett is getting a bit long in the tooth, but his experience makes him a formidable presence.
Wesley won’t be deterred though. He torches the local auto parts store, the store owned by Dalton’s girlfriend’s father. Then brings a crew into the Deuce and busts it up. He turns up the harassment on the local businesses, and has his goons give Wade Garrett a beating – then a stabbing. A deadly serious message… and a touch of tragedy to the story of the Double Deuce.
But Brad Wesley has underestimated the resolution of the best cooler in the business. You can’t make Dalton back down… a lesson Brad Wesley and crew are about to learn the hard way.
Fist fights, knife fights, sex, nudity, more fist fights, hot babes, explosions, fights and blues music. Road House knows what’s fun and serves it up in double sized portions. It’s loaded with great tough guy dialogue like, “Take the biggest guy in the world, shatter his knee and he’ll drop like a stone.” “You wanna know why you disgust me? ‘Cause you’re a bleeder”, “If you’re gonna have a pet, keep it on a leash” and “This place has a sign hangin’ over the urinal that says, ‘Don’t eat the big white mint'”.
It has a great central character in the philosopher turned martial arts expert bouncer Dalton, a fantastic villain in the 50’s music loving Brad Wesley, a world-class sidekick in the grizzled Wade Garrett, and great music provided by Jeff Healy. It’s a fantastic mix of fighting, fun, and fooling around.
When it comes to Cheese, Road House is a “Cheese-tastic Classic”!