Recently it was announced that Road House was being remade with Ronda Rousey in the lead. Why can’t Hollywood accept cinematic perfection? You can’t remake Road House because the magic wasn’t merely in the story, but the Swayze. Patrick Swayze made moviegoers believe that a small guy with amazing hair could bring security to a lawless part of the country. A land where drunks respected nobody’s personal space. Thankfully the masterpiece is getting a respectful treatment with the release of Road House: Collector’s Edition on the Shout Select Series.
Dalton (Swayze) seems to be the least obvious bouncer a nightclub would ever hire. He wasn’t a goonish ex-defensive lineman that lurks around the bar ready to shut down a drunken fight with a sober beating. Dalton is about deescalating a situation before having to resort to laying hands on a customer. When he’s forced to resort to force, he’s got mad martial arts skills. Frank Tilghman (Emergency!‘s Kevin Tighe) watches how Dalton puts down a tussle in a big city bar. Frank makes Dalton an outrageous offer to take care of security at his Double Deuce in Jasper, Missouri. Dalton shows up unannonced to witness a usual night at the club. The regular security squad is run by Pro Wrestling legend Terry Funk (a better actor than Hulk Hogan). His method is to beat everyone to a pulp using every part of the nightclub. It’s easy to see why Frank needs Dalton since it must cost a fortune to replace all the furniture every night. Dalton immediately calms down the customers and cleans out the least trustworthy employees of the Double Deuce. This means cutting the skimming bartender (John Doe of the band X). Turns out the bartender is related to Brad Wesley (Killing of a Chinese Bookie‘s Ben Gazzara), the Boss Hogg of Jasper. He wants Dalton out or he’s not going to supply the bar with booze. Sure the kids come out to see Jeff Healey Band with Kathleen Wilhoite (Private School), but they need their cheap liquor. Things get extra messy when Wesley wants control of Double Deuce. He uses his henchmen for a hostile takeover of everything Dalton holds precious. Dalton has a hot doctor (Kill Bill‘s Kelly Lynch) to patch him up and a bouncer mentor ( The Big Lebowski‘s Sam Elliot) to advise him. But is that really enough for a battle that will destroy so much of Jasper? What good are kung fu skills when the enemy is coming after you with a jacked up monster truck?
Road House deserves its cult status with a five star cast and attitude to match the action. Swayze makes the movie credible with his steely gaze and swift moves. This could easily have been written off like dozens of other forgotten action films from the late 80s to mid-90s era. Remember Cindy Crawford’s Fair Game? Swayze didn’t need to play an action hero like Sly, Arnold or Bruce. Dalton is a character none of the trio could have performed. Swayze owns Road House at its soul. He seems natural when he talks about his philosophy of fighting instead of cartoonish. Cinematographer Dean Cundey lit and framed Swayze to make him glow on the screen like an enlightened hero.
Swayze had become a massive star in 1987 with Dirty Dancing. Women were eager to soak in his moves and swoon when he refused to put Baby in the corner. Road House quickly found itself a popular VHS rental since couples would get both movies for date night fun. The ladies got a double dose of Swayze and the guys were able to get an infusion of macho as he traded dance moves for beatdown tactics. There was a butt shot of Swayze to keep the ladies happy in Road House. Of course this rental double feature was short lived. The arrival of Ghost on home video made twice the romantic Swayze at Videorama. Road House would go back to dude bonding viewing when the ladies were having a girls night. Now with Road House: Collector’s Edition, everyone can appreciate the original. The bonus features illuminate what makes the movie so special and memorable. In the next few years, they might make a film called Road House, but it won’t replace the greatness of Swayze’s Road House.
The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. The transfer brings out how ripped Swayze was. He’s not faking being an action star. The audio is 5.1 DTS-HD Surround, The speakers put you in the middle of the bar fights. You may want to duck when you hear a table crash behind you. There’s also 2.0 DTS-HD Stereo. The movie is subtitled.
Audio Commentaries include the first with director Rowdy Herrington and another giving mega-fans Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier. Herrington tells quite a few stories covered in the video interviews. Smith and Mosier are doing a more focused version of their Smodcast.
The Making of Road House (63:14) interviews with director Rowdy Herrington, actors Kelly Lynch, John Doe, Kevin Tighe, Julie Michaels, Red West, Lisa Niemi Swayze, casting director Jackie Burch, director of photography Dean Cundey, editor Frank Urioste and more… Kelly Lynch said they were in on the joke, but played it straight. This was a Samurai-Western fusion according to cast and grew. They explain how the production became legendary.
Remembering Patrick (15:06) allows his widow Lisa Niemi Swayze and the cast discuss why they enjoyed working with Swayze.
A Conversation with director Rowdy Herrington (29:38) talks about him going from gaffer to director. He made Jack’s Back (out on Scream Factory) before hooking up with Joel Silver. They met on a legendary’s film shooting.
Pain Don’t Hurt: The Stunts of Road House (22:29) interviews with second unit director/stunt coordinator Charlie Picerni, Rowdy Herrington, John Doe, Kelly Lynch and others about the action. Kelly Lynch had no idea how much action was in the film from her reading of the script. They break down the throat ripping out scene. There were nine different fight scenes.
The Music of Road House (9:22) lets cast and crew reflect on the late Jeff Healey. The set was fun since Jeff would provide music during the lunch breaks.
Michael Kamen also did the score. Red West (part of Elvis’ Memphis Mafia) was impressed by Healey.
What Would Dalton Do? (12:26) focuses on real nightclub bouncers who prefer to be called “Coolers.” They liked the film as they relate real tales of nasty customers.
On the Road House (17:23) is a vintage featurette with Patrick Swayze, Kelly Lynch, Rowdy Herrington, Marshall Teague and Benny Urquidez. Swayze talks about being the peaceful warrior as Dalton.
Vintage interviews (11:00) are extra footage from location interviews with Patrick Swayze, Ben Gazzara, Kelly Lynch, Sam Elliot, Benny Urquidez and Rowdy Herrington.
On the Set: Behind-the-Scenes Footage (3:44) includes the monster truck destorying a car dealership and bar fights.
Vintage Profile on Patrick Swayze (2:41) has Swayze talk about his bar time in Texas.
Theatrical Trailer (1:57) promises the best damn movie of the year.
Photo Gallery (3:20) is a montage from the production.
Shout! Factory presents Road House: Collector’s Edition. Directed by: Rowdy Herrington. Screenplay by: David Lee Henry & Hilary Henkin. Starring: Patrick Swayze, Ben Gazzara, Kelly Lynch & Sam Elliott. Running Time: 114 minutes. Rated: R. Released: September 6, 2016.
Joe Corey is the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.