Viking Night: Roadhouse
By Bruce Hall
November 4, 2014
Dalton is the kind of guy who gets up at sunrise, skips breakfast, oils himself up and serenely practices tai chi on the shore of a mirror smooth lake. In the background, some kind of electronically synthesized Japanese music is playing. All God’s creatures, including other heterosexual men, gaze on in astonished wonder as his golden mullet faintly ripples in the morning breeze. Dalton does this, as he does all things, for one reason only. Because only Swayze could make what I just described look kind of bad ass.
That’s pretty much the gist of Road House, Patrick Swayze’s 1989 love letter to short, skinny bar bouncers with futuristic mullets. It's 114 minutes of the camera reverently worshiping Patrick Swayze almost to the point of totalitarian propaganda. And the story takes place in an insanely violent alternate universe where Swayze is a vengeful, spin-kicking God, and those who do not fear the mullet will surely be destroyed.
Yes, it's insane. Gloriously insane.
The reason is because Road House gives absolutely zero shits what you think about plot or logic, or about your mental stability. Road House has a story to tell, and it is lunacy incarnate - but by God, you WILL hear it. Case in point - as Tyler Durden reminded us, most people will do anything to avoid a fight. But this does not apply to the characters in Road House. Oh, no. Everyone in this film carries either a comically large gun or comically large hair, and they have absolutely no problem with whipping either about in public while actively trying to slaughter the people around them.
The characters exist in some sort of moral wormhole where the basic things that make us human spontaneously fail in an alarming percentage of people. Men don't just get drunk in this story. They get drunk and then start trying to rape and stab everyone in the room, but then Dalton appears and kicks them in the face with the grace and power of a majestic elk. This is literally how the movie begins.
After putting the man's face through a tabletop, Dalton takes a break to stitch himself up, because awesome people do their own stitches. It is at this time I should mention that in the version of 1989 where Road House happens, the job of “bar bouncer” ranks just above “Joe Montana” and “Lead Singer of Whitesnake” on the list of jobs that everyone wished they had. So it’s no surprise when a star struck club owner named Frank Tilghman (Kevin Tighe) tracks Dalton down and offers him a ridiculous amount of money to punch people in the face at a different bar.
Dalton immediately accepts, walking out on what is clearly a lucrative and well established position because fatalistic impulsiveness is badass. When Dalton arrives at the infamous Double Deuce bar in Jasper, Missouri, everyone knows who he is and they all cower in fear, because Dalton. The bar itself is kind of like a cross between the Star Wars cantina and an episode of Miami Vice. Big haired 20- and 30-somethings willingly mingle with what appear to be slack-jawed redneck mutants, because that's something that would happen. You'd be surprised at who starts most of the fights. Unfortunately, in the process of cleaning up the place, Dalton terminates several people connected with local entrepreneur-slash-psychotic madman Brad Wesley (Ben Gazzara).