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Posted at 11:30 AM ET, 10/28/2008

Annals of Bad Movies: Patrick Swayze's 'Road House'

By Liz Kelly

We love Patrick Swayze so much around Celebritology HQ, that not only do we own a "Dirty Dancing" talking keychain, but we've subjected ourselves to most of the movies in his lengthly CV -- the good ("The Outsiders"), the bad ("Red Dawn") and the utterly cheesy (take your pick). It is in this spirit that a Swayze film becomes our first entrant in a new Celebritology category: The Annals of Bad Movies, in which we lovingly poke fun at our favorite celebs for some of their more questionable roles and recognize the value of those films as the great basis for an evening of campy fun with a group of friends.

"Dirty Dancing" was a smash hit and elevated Patrick Swayze from the ranks of good looking ensemble player to leading man. With just six words -- "Nobody puts Baby in a corner" -- Swayze proved his mettle as a take-no-prisoners tough guy. So, it's no surprise that director Rowdy Herrington cast Swayze as the lead in his 1989 paean to bar bouncers, "Road House."

Synopsis: Swayze plays James Dalton, perhaps the best-known bouncer in the whole world. I kid you not, when he walks in a room he is either greeted with awe, swoons or tests of his manhood from a series of bumbling bad guys. But there's more to Dalton than muscle and over-coiffed hair. He's also an NYU grad who majored in philosophy, which renders him prone to brooding and long stares into the camera and early morning well-oiled, shirtless taekwondo sessions.

When Dalton arrives in some generic hick town to bring law and order to the Double Deuce saloon, he attracts lovely doctor "Doc," -- portrayed by a big-haired Kelly Lynch ("Drugstore Cowboy") and the town's evil overlord, Ben Gazzara ("The Big Lebowski") doing his best Don Corleone meets Boss Hog.

Without giving anything away, much violence ensues -- including Dalton's signature move of snatching out a guy's trachea with his bare hand.

Cheese Factor: Although released in 1989, "Road House" seems as if it would be more at home in the mid-'80s considering the big hair, bad soundtrack and total disregard for any clothing manufactured after 1985 (think short-sleeved turtlenecks for men and over-sized shoulder pads for both sexes). In addition, the reliance on shots of topless chicks is reminiscent of "Porky's" and all the typical '80s stuff that went in to causing the next decade's pop culture -- full of grunge and message movies -- to move so far in the other direction.

And, of course, "Road House" is rife with ham-fisted one-liners. A favorite of my friend Arthur, who attended our viewing party, was Swayze's line, delivered with a straight face, when he refuses a local anesthetic before getting a manly-gash in his side stapled by Lynch: "Pain don't hurt."

Why It's Worth Another Look: Despite all of the trappings, Swayze actually turns in a credible performance as a bouncer with a heart. We pull for him -- we want him to get the girl and save the bar and, yes, to snatch out the bad guy's trachea. Hot older dude Sam Elliott also appears as Dalton's older, seedier mentor Wade Garrett. And, most of all, if you get caught up in a short conversation with your guests you won't have a hard time picking up the story line again.

By Liz Kelly  | October 28, 2008; 11:30 AM ET
Categories:  Annals of Bad Movies  
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Hey, Red Dawn is a classic. WOLVERINES!!!!!!!

Posted by: epjd | October 28, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Good to know there is something to do with a philosophy degree besides law school.

Was this the movie where he gave himself stitches without anesthesia? Or am I mixing it up with one of the Rambo movies? That stapling scene Liz describes is making me doubt my memory, but it has been a long time since I saw either movie.

Posted by: 44west | October 28, 2008 11:55 AM | Report abuse

I gotta agree with ep, Red Dawn is a classic, and it's such a strong allegory to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980's.

Posted by: DorkusMaximus1 | October 28, 2008 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Yes that is the movie, he gives himself stitches or starts to do it.

And how could you forget another great line from this flick:

"I want you to be nice until it's time to not be nice."

And let's not forget there's also the great Jeff Healey in this flick. It's worth it for the music alone.

Posted by: wadejg | October 28, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

I must admit that I do indeed own a copy of Road House. Back when my wife and I first got engaged and she moved in with me, I think it made her think about whether she really wanted to marry me or not. Fortunately for me, she decided that if one of my worst character flaw was liking Road House, she could deal...

Posted by: fft5305 | October 28, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

I forgot that Red Dawn was a Swayze flick! Been so long since I've seen it. Guess I'll have to rent Roadhouse. Don't know how I could have missed it. Sounds like this one of those movies best enjoyed under the influence?
Another bad, cheesy classic that I remember from way back when (first R rate film I ever snuck into) was American Werewolf in London. But I had a thing for the Dr Pepper guy.

Posted by: hodie | October 28, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

But who could forget "it's my way or the highway!"?

Posted by: CallMeSkeptical | October 28, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse

1. Road House is great if for no other reason than the Swayze's righteous mini-mullet.

2. Ben Gazzara's most famous movie is"The Big Lebowski"? I could have sworn he was in something more prominant than that.

Then, I looked him up. Nope. Lebowski is it. Previously, he was Capone in the 1975 movie. He's mostly done TV and a lot of stuff in Italy.

I watched "Road House" one afternoon, back to back with "Dirty Dancing" during one of those A&E Patrick Swazye festivals.

Posted by: mdreader01 | October 28, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Anyone as hot as Patrick Swayze is allowed to make bad movies. His "totally awesome" body in 'Dirty Dancing' and 'Ghost' forgive him of any and all awful movies.

Posted by: LBH219 | October 28, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Funnily enough, Dirty Dancing was on tv last night over here.

And I secretly like Red Dawn. shhhh. Don't tell.

Posted by: raynecloud | October 28, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

My brother used to work with a guy who worshiped and adored Swayze, even celebrated his birthday annually. PS's cheesiest movies were quoted and recommended, and the man regularly announced that he was 'crazy for Swayze'. "Roadhouse" was his favorite.

Posted by: undercover_hon | October 28, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Am I alone in thinking Swayze is too meathead-looking to be hot?
Oh well.

Aveeeeeeenge meeeeee!

Posted by: otherliz | October 28, 2008 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Liz you dare invoke the wrath of petal?!?

I love me some WOLVERINES... what's not to love about the movie, it rawked the 'teen power' principle.

And to comment on the Swayze and NOT metion Ghost??? Throwing pottery was never the same again... le swoon...

Posted by: LTL1 | October 28, 2008 2:55 PM | Report abuse

People, the best line from Road House is when Swayze walks in on Steve the bouncer having relations in the supply closet with some random bar fly. Swayze walks in cool as can be and delivers one of the great dialogues in movie history.
Steve: (While having relations with random bar fly) I’m going to make you my regular Saturday Night thing.
Dalton: (enters storage room) Yo, Steve you’re history.
Steve: (Pulling up his pants) But I’m on my break!
Dalton: Stay on it.

Or who can forget the repeated line to Dalton, “I thought you would bigger.”

And when Dalton addresses the collection of motley bouncers that he proceeds to make into a crack bouncing force. “I’m telling you straight, it’s my way or the highway.”

P.S. Swayze was underrated in Point Break.

Posted by: hast0304 | October 28, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Can somebody PLEASE take "Ghost" out of general circulation and put that baby in the corner? Every time that damn movie is on, Ms. Snatchquatch has to drop everything to watch it, and I have to supply three hankies for her to dry her tears at the end.

If, IF... you're a fan of love conquering death, "The Sixth Sense" is a much better movie, and Bruce Willis is a much better actor.

Time to put on my Nomex and Kevlar to deal with the flames and projectiles sent my way by Swayze fans.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | October 28, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

The best thing about Road House is that Jeff Healey plays in it. Awesome, awesome guitar player.

Sorry Liz, but 'Red Dawn' is a classic in the same way that "V: The Miniseries" is a classic. WOLVERINES!

I am proud to say that I never saw the movie "Ghost" and my life is, I think, the richer for it.

Posted by: pras40 | October 28, 2008 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, sasquatch, but I actually like Ghost, despite the fact that it inspired one of my only true nightmares in my life (think bad guys getting dragged down). I'm with you on Baby, though. Mrs fft has to watch at least 5-10 minutes of that stupid movie every time she sees it on TV. I usually leave the room until it passes.

Posted by: fft5305 | October 28, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Other bad movies:

The Bodyguard
From Justin to Kelly
Blue Crush
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Point Break (another Swayze doozie)

Posted by: spartan123 | October 28, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

And, while we're on the subject of bad movies, would a better title be the "Anals of Bad Movies"?

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | October 28, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

oh methinks, you have to see Ghost! Was pretty entertaining actually. The subway scene was actually pretty scary for the time. The pottery scene, much spoofed but the original is one of the most sexy movie moments out there. And Whoopi Goldberg, come on. That's what she does best and added bonus Ted Danson is not in it.

Posted by: hodie | October 28, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

hodie, please don't make me see "Ghost"! I think I'd rather watch all of Road House uninterrupted than watch Ghost.
Part of my hatred of that movie without having seen it is the potential ruination of the song "Unchained Melody" which I like and sometimes love (depending on the amount of liquor I've had). I don't want it associated with Swayze & (gag!) Demi Moore.

Posted by: pras40 | October 28, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Red Dawn was Repuke propaganda and it sucked. A couple years after it was made, the Berlin Wall fell and the entire movie was obsolete and moot. A puerile film throughout. Only idiots would like it.

Swayze was great in "To Wong Foo", even if the critics did call his drag act "matronly". He looked better than Sarah Palin!

The only thing I liked about "Road House" was the cool Buick Riviera he drove, the one with the clamshell doors. The rest of the movie was forgettable.

"Ghost" was a good movie but Swayze was really a supporting role. Whoopie was great in that movie.

But if you want to talk about real stinkers, Whoopie made a move called "Theodore Rex" with those big rubber dinosaurs from the old "Dinosaurs" tv show. They put Whoopie in an unflattering black leather uniform. She tried to get out of that turkey but the studio threatened to sue her butt off so she dragged herself through it and it shows. I saw this on TV once and it was painful to sit through. Poor Whoopie.

Posted by: TomIII | October 28, 2008 3:48 PM | Report abuse

LOL, ok methinks, you get a pass on this one.
How is the Swayze anyway? Pancreatic cancer does carry a pretty dismal prognosis.

Posted by: hodie | October 28, 2008 3:51 PM | Report abuse

I'm one who thinks no news is good, or at least not awful news, when it comes to cancer. Maybe jaybub would know?

Posted by: pras40 | October 28, 2008 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Good one, sasquatch.

And I'm sorry, I can't focus on anything but dirty dancing when the Swayze is mentioned.

Me? I'm scared of everything! Of who I am, of what I saw!

Posted by: aesully | October 28, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

For me the best Swayze moment was his Chippendale dance duet with Chris Farley on SNL.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | October 28, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

I am not a fan of Ghost either. It tries too hard to be a tearjerker. And the whodunit part was just plain stupid.

And Pras, I loved V. I would so love to see that mini-series again.

Posted by: epjd | October 28, 2008 4:34 PM | Report abuse

I read that Swazye's pancreatic tumor is very small and caught in the early stage. He seems to be responding well to medication. His latest movie is in post production, so we should be seeing him on the big screen soon.

As for horrid movies, I nominate "Exit to Eden" and "Howard the Duck."

But I think we'll also have to do a special sub-genre: the sweetheart bad movie: - Shanghai Surprise, Gigli, Swept Away

Posted by: mdreader01 | October 28, 2008 4:44 PM | Report abuse

And Pras, I loved V. I would so love to see that mini-series again.

Posted by: epjd | October 28, 2008 4:34 PM
We got it from Blockbuster a couple of years ago just to re-watch it. It was camp-tastic. Marc Singer's pants were painted on. The moment when they first see the "visitors" eating the rodents....there are just too many excellent moments to list them all.

Posted by: pras40 | October 28, 2008 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Roadhouse is the worst movie ever. It is a ridiculous story with hackneyed stereotypes, combined with terrible acting and dialog, full of gratuitous violence and nudity. It makes porn look like shakespeare. All of swayze's sidekicks are either ugly or fat, seemingly to accentuate his "hotness". But everyone's hair is 80's perfect! Kelly Lynch looks like she had to keep using heroin from Drugstore Cowboy just to keep from either laughing or crying at being in the movie. And, it ruined Jeff Healy's career. A classic of horrific proportions.

Posted by: rbarry531 | October 28, 2008 5:13 PM | Report abuse

I humbly request that "Robin Hood Prince of Thieves" be removed from the Annals of Bad Movies list only because of the wonderfully over-the-top performance given by Alan Rickman. A classic move by Rickman is executed when he prepares to take the title of "maid" from Marian. Oh, yes, " . . . and cancel Christmas!"

In its place, you can add "Passion of the Christ".

The problem with "Ghost" is that the Swazye character makes love to the Demi Moore character through the Whoopie character. Somehow I just don't see Whoopie and Demi as a couple.



Posted by: bmschumacher | October 28, 2008 5:38 PM | Report abuse

The best line from "Road House" was right before Dalton was about the rip the guy's throat out, and the dude says, "I used to &#^$ guys like you in prison." Done and done!

Posted by: ezcheese81 | October 28, 2008 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Bela Lugosi in Plan 9 From Outer Space. The best worst movie ever made.

But who can forget Robin Williams in Popeye -- the absolute worst movie ever made. Ever. In history.

Posted by: rashibama | October 28, 2008 6:41 PM | Report abuse

"my husband is watching this STUPID movie on DVD right now (it's one of his favorites) and I'm now having doubts about him as the father of my children. He's really a good guy but I refuse to accept "Road House" as classic film."

-Formerly Lisa1

Posted by: lisjaka2 | October 28, 2008 9:48 PM | Report abuse

No Sam Elliott movie is a bad movie.

Posted by: gbooksdc | October 28, 2008 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Kingpin with Woody Harrelson and Randy Quaid - so bad it was great.

Posted by: jackdmom | October 29, 2008 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Road House had a great collection of swarmy bad guys, starting with Ben Gazzara. My only wish is that they had taken out Sam Elliot in his first scene (I hate that guy).

Posted by: maggots | October 29, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

"...It is a ridiculous story with hackneyed stereotypes, combined with terrible acting and dialog, full of gratuitous violence and nudity. It makes porn look like shakespeare. All of swayze's sidekicks are either ugly or fat, seemingly to accentuate his "hotness". But everyone's hair is 80's perfect! Kelly Lynch looks like she had to keep using heroin from Drugstore Cowboy just to keep from either laughing or crying at being in the movie...."

Posted by: rbarry531 | October 28, 2008 5:13 PM

If I hadn't already seen the movie, this would definitely make me want to see it! Excellent reveiw rbarry!

Oh, and Mrs fft saw my comment and reminded me that Sam Elliot was in the movie. She would put up with me watching the movie every night of our married life, if only I called her into the room when his scenes come up. I think she'd leave me for him in a heartbeat. Especially since Cary Grant is no longer with us...

Posted by: fft5305 | October 29, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

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