Monday, March 21, 2016

Hollywood! Road House

Had a childhood friend in town for the weekend so of course we had to Grip & Rip it up. Starting in Hollywood on St. Patrick's Day, I took him to the home of Dammaged Goods Presents, the historic Egyptian Theatre where we caught the second film of an awesomely 80's double feature of Dirty Dancing and Road House. Both star former dancer turned leading man Patrick Swayze, get it, St. Patrick's Day? The Saint of Cinema sadly passed away in 2009 but made his mark in films like The Outsiders, Red Dawn, these two flicks, Point Break and Ghost as a suave yet macho leading man.  I've always loved this film since seeing it as a kid. I mean come on it's basically a modern day western with boobs, booze and bust ups galore. Throw in a rocking soundtrack and plenty of what the crap moments like a blind singer, monster truck destroying a car dealer, sweaty tai chi, rough sex, bad guy wearing a razor on his boot, mullets on top of mullets, ripping a guy's throat out and Sam Elliott's pubes.

Directed by Rowdy Herrington and written by R. Lance Hill and Hilary Henkin, Road House was produced by the legendary Joel Silver who set out to the make the greatest Drive-In/B-Movie in history. And guess what, he succeeded! Behind the camera you have staples like composer Michael Kamen (Die Hard, Lethal Weapon), cinematographer Dean Cundey (Back to the Future) and a terrific cast wrangled by Jackie Burch (Predator). Swayze is legendary bouncer/cooler Dalton, a fighting philosopher with a degree from NYU who somehow manages to clean up dive bars making $500 a night but never winning a fight, in a spiritual sense. He's called in to tame The Double Deuce in Jasper, Missouri where he runs into local businessman and leader Brad Wesley (Ben Gazzara) along with his band of thugs that includes Marshall R. Teague (The Rock), Terry Funk (Over the Top) and Anthony De Longis (Masters of the Universe). He also meets and knocks boots with local Doc (Kelly Lynch), the blondest, tannest ER doctor you've ever seen. At just under two hours, I forgot how much action was in this film. There's something like 9 fights here choreographed by kickboxing icon Benny Urquidez along with plenty of explosions and gunplay. And that Swayze is shirtless and smoking a cigarette for nearly the entire runtime.

About an hour in, Sam Elliot shows up as Wade Garrett, aging but still the best bouncer in the game. With his gravely voice, lean physique and mangy yet spectacular hair, Elliot's Garrett is a Got Damme cinematic role model who punches a guy in the dick to get Dalton out of trouble before trying to get his adopted little brother to leave town before things go too far with Wesley. Anyone who doesn't like top knots needs to watch this flick and check out Elliott pulling his hair back before mixing it up. After years of supporting roles in successful films, Road House was meant to be Swayze's star vehicle to the big time. Budgeted at around $17 million, the film would gross a respectable $30 million in 1989 and offer up a more female friendly action hero compared to emerging every-man Bruce Willis, insane Mel Gibson and the superhero one man armies of Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Jean-Claude Van Damme was still starring in low budget hits like Kickboxer and Cyborg while the CAA and Warner Brothers backed Steven Seagal was about to break out with Hard to Kill. Constant airings on cable would catapult Road House into a cult classic that ensured high ratings and a milestone title in the vast filmographies of all involved.

To introduce the film and hype Saturday's co-presentation of Silent Rage with Cinematic Void, we gave out a copy of the hit soundtrack featuring the Jeff Healy band and two songs sung by Swayze. The question? What film did Swayze drop out of co-starring opposite Sylvester Stallone to headline Road House? Tango & Cash!

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