These are the five greatest mysteries of this Earth: 1. How Stonehenge was formed; 2. Whatever happened to Amelia Earhart; 3. Women; 4. Why I despise all things mayonnaise (mayonnaise is basically white lard. You would think I would like it since I'm white... and lard); and 5. Why I can't keep my eyes off the 1989 motion picture, "Road House."
"Road House" is a film about a celebrated bar bouncer named Dalton (played by Patrick Swayze) who is recruited to clean up the Double Deuce saloon in Jasper, Missouri. He makes friends, makes enemies, takes on the town boss, breasts are bared (male and female), fights are fought, and, of course, Dalton kills the bad guys in the end. It's basically a spaghetti Western set in the 1980s rather than the 1880s.
The movie is simply great. And by "great," I mean terrible.
Yet, for some reason that escapes me, whenever I catch it while skimming through the channels - and it's on TBS or TNT nearly every day - I can't turn away. I absolutely must watch it.
What is it about "Road House" that I find so mesmerizing? Let me count the ways.
First, Dalton is not just a bouncer - he's a "cooler," which is another name for "head bouncer." And he has a philosophy degree from NYU.
This is divulged to the viewer during a pivotal scene when he goes to the hospital to have a knife wound sewn up. He brings along his medical records in a folder, which he presents to the attractive, single, female emergency room doctor (aren't they all?). Not only is his detailed medical history in this folder, but also papers identifying his academic pedigree. Why? I'm not sure. Perhaps you get better medical treatment if you have an advanced degree.
Anyway, Dalton refuses an anesthetic, explaining to the foxy doc that "pain don't hurt." Oddly, this declaration doesn't cause her to question why these people are always coming into the ER complaining of pain. Instead, she decides to date him.
The first 30 minutes of the film are absolutely gripping. And by "gripping," I mean unintentionally hilarious.
In his first meeting with the Double Deuce staff, Dalton outlines his rules for handling troublemakers: 1. Never underestimate your opponent; 2. Always take it outside; and 3. Be nice.
I use those same rules for parenting.
At the end of that first evening, the Double Deuce owner proclaims with a chuckle, "It was a good night - nobody died." Not chuckling, as if seeing the future, or perhaps the script, Dalton replies, "It will get worse before it gets better."
The only member of the cast seemingly in on the joke is Ben Gazzara, who plays the villain, Brad Wesley, with a smirk as if he's being tickled and holding back the giggles.
Apparently, I'm not the only one who finds "Road House" utterly entertaining. In 2003, an off-Broadway musical was made based on the movie, called - and I'm not making this up - "Road House: The Stage Version Of The Cinema Classic That Starred Patrick Swayze, Except This One Stars Taimak From The '80s Cult Classic 'The Last Dragon' Wearing A Blonde Mullet Wig."
This past weekend, "Road House" was on my mind because of the death of musician Jeff Healey, who played Cody in the film. Blinded by cancer as an infant, he succumbed to the disease on March 2. In the same week, it was revealed that Swayze is fighting pancreatic cancer. Bad news indeed.
Then, at around 9 p.m., I caught it - "Road House" had just started. I sat there transfixed for two hours on my guilty pleasure.
It was a lot of fun. And by "a lot of fun," I mean a lot of fun.
Len Robbins is editor and publisher of The Clinch County News.