Sam Strange Remembers: ROAD HOUSE

Pain don't hurt. Well, it hurts a little.

Sometimes you just want to watch Road House. There are many situations in life when no other film will suffice. But there was not always a movie called Road House to watch. Or there was one, but it did not have Patrick Swayze playing a zen bouncer. So I had to make it. I don't want to sound like a dick, but I believe my Road House where Patrick Swayze plays a zen bouncer is the ultimate Road House in which Patrick Swayze plays a zen bouncer.

Road House is all about Patrick Swayze playing a zen bouncer. His first name is Dalton. His last name is Dalton. His middle name is Late for Dinner. That's a pretty complicated name, so everyone just calls him Dalton. I say everyone because he is a fucking legend. People know him far and wide as that zen bouncer. You know, the one who once ripped a guy's throat out.

Understand, the world of Road House is not like the world you or I live in. It's a different place, a much wilder place where whole communities gather in nasty cowboy bars, waiting to have their eyeballs popped out for the slightest offense. But even with all that violence, it is a place that takes throat ripping very seriously. You can kill ten men an hour and no one will bat an eye. Rip out someone's throat, though, and it will fuck you up for life. It's such an awful act that they don't even bother making it illegal.

Dalton is also famous because he's the world's second greatest bouncer in the world. He finds this success by following three simple rules: 1) Never underestimate your opponent, 2) Take it outside, and 3) Be nice. If there's still a problem after that he goes directly to 3.5) Suck the guy's dick. Never has a confrontation escalated beyond this point.

We meet Dalton is a seedy bar in Seedyville, where he's TCOB like a boss. A man arrives and offers Dalton a job as head bouncer at a really violent bar in Kansas City called the Road House. The pay is $250 a night. Dalton is about to accept when he thinks to ask: "Wait a minute. Is this Kansas City, California or Kansas City, Kansas?" When he finds out it's in Kansas, the pay goes up to $2,500 a night.

Mr. Boss has a plane ticket for Dalton, but Dalton refuses, claiming with steely confidence that he'd rather drive because flying is too dangerous. Rather than correct him, Mr. Boss consider's Dalton's reputation and lets the fallacy go. Pay attention because this interaction illustrates the source of Dalton's profound ignorance.

Dalton Late for Dinner Dalton is a strange badass, I must admit. He's a philosophy major who reads heady literature and begins each day with Tai Chi. His body is covered with scars. It makes him look pretty tough, until you realize his body is actually a road map displaying each fight he lost and how dramatically he lost it. Even just in this one movie, we see him get sliced, stabbed, and shot.

On a similar note, Dalton does not feel pain. That, too, seems pretty awesome until you consider how afraid of pain he must have been to meditate it out of his consciousness. This contradiction is not lost on everyone. Whenever he runs into someone new the comment, "I thought you'd be bigger" always pops up. But he's actually the exact size he should be, especially considering he's Snake Plissken's dad.

Pay attention to how Dalton begins cleaning up the Road House, not by kicking tons of ass, but by firing people. Right off the bat, he fires a girl for selling drugs and a guy for being too mean. Later that night he fires the bartender for skimming money from the till. But he's not done yet. The following night he fires a guy for banging a chick on one of his smoke breaks. A girl tries to grab his butt, and he fires her too. She works at the phone company, but it sticks regardless. By the time Dalton's done cleaning house, there's only half a house left.

Next Dalton makes everyone paint the bar, makes sure it's up to fire code standards, and does the bar's taxes. Only then does he start kicking people in the ass.

Here's the thing about Kansas City: It's really small and has no government. That means no police force, fire department, no anything. Citizens have only two employment choices. They can work at Dalton's bar, or they can work for local crime kingpin, Ben Wheatley. All those people Dalton fired were actually working for both. So now, he has the Dukes of Hazzard equivalent of the Mafia on his hands.

But that's not all! One day after getting shot several times by a bar patron, Dalton falls in love with his big-haired doctor, Doc. He doesn't usually go in much for the ladies, but she has a masculine name so close enough. Doc is attracted to Dalton's strange mixture of testosterone posing and feminine everything else. She also thinks it's fun to be with a man who weighs less than she does. When the eventually have sex, he wraps his legs around her standing body and she just sort of bounces him into her like dribbling a boy-shaped basketball.

Things can't stay swell for long, however. It's not long before Ben Wheatley pisses on Dalton's fire hydrant by cutting off the bar's booze supply and blowing up the auto shop next door, an important business for Dalton as he has to buy new tires and windshields on a daily basis thanks to how often he angers drunk rednecks.

This scares Dalton, so he calls his dad, played by Sam Elliott. First the two guys hang out at a diner, so Dad can meet Doc. Ever the gentleman, Dad disguises his thorough once-over as a romantic slow dance. She doesn't know it, but by the time the song ends, he knows her entire sexual history, the color of her underwear, and that the son he just gave her will be a boy (Solid Snake). He also shows her his pubic hair under the pretense of comparing scars, which is a good move if you've got the scars.

Dad starts helping Dalton deal with Wheatley's bad guys, all of whom are ex-employees of the bar. All but one. While Dad kind of offers us a less-gay version of Dalton, Wheatley has one guy in his employ who could only be described as a more-gay Dalton. When the two fight, Dalton suffers multiple stabs wounds in the back from the guy's erection. This is after the guy tells him "I used to fuck guys like you in prison." What he doesn't know is that he actually did fuck Dalton in prison. This was years ago when Dalton had a military haircut and got put away for giving away muscle cars to random homeless people.

Because this guy is such a good fighter, Dalton really only has one choice for dispatching him: The throat rip. This sends him into a tail spin. Dad tries to talk Dalton out of his depression while he works out in a barn. He can't reach him when he's punching a wooden dummy, he can't reach him when he climbs a rope to an upper level to punch a punching bag, and he can't reach him when he takes a helicopter to the top of the Kansas' Capitol Building to punch a concrete statue of an American Indian.

But Wheatley knows how to reach him. Like the Joker, he captures both Dad and Doc, forcing Dalton to choose which one he wants to save. Before Dalton can actually choose, though, Wheatley shoots Doc. Dalton doesn't care much, so he shoots Dad, too. Now Dalton is pretty pissed off. His little muscles begin puffing up like popcorn.

Dalton storms Wheatley's compound armed only with a giant stuffed polar bear which he throws on people. Before long everyone is smooshed but Wheatley himself. Dalton wants to give him a more spectacular, deserving death, but finds he cannot bring himself to do another throat rip. Just then, he's visited by the ghost of Dad, who tells him to stop being such a pussy. Throat rip it is.

After that ordeal, Dalton hits the road, determined to put the bouncer life behind him. But it's not easy. He needs money. Plus, he finds it harder and harder to keep up his zen. So he gets into surfing and bank robbery, and things work out more or less fine.

(three stars)