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Rowdy Herrington
Patrick Swayze, Kelly Lynch, Sam Elliott, Ben Gazzara, Marshall R. Teague, Julie Michaels, Red West, Sunshine Parker, Jeff Healey
Writing Credits:
David Lee Henry (and story), Hilary Henkin

The dancing's over. Now it gets dirty.

Patrick Swayze stars in this sexy, "violent tough-guy thriller" (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) from the producer of Die Hard and The Matrix. Co-starring Ben Gazzara, Kelly Lynch and Sam Elliott, Road House delivers no-holds-barred action that pushes the envelope for high-octane thrills!

Patrick Swayze is Dalton, a legendary bouncer who comes to Jasper, Missouri, for a special purpose: to restore order at the notorious Double Deuce bar. In one spectacular fight after another, Dalton rids the bar of thugs and henchmen. But when he runs afoul of a ruthless crime boss (Gazzara) who controls the town, the stage is set for a blistering showdown that'll leave only one man standing!

Box Office:
$10 million.
Domestic Gross
$30.050 million.

Rated R

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
English Dolby Surround 2.0
French Dolby Surround 2.0
Spanish Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 114 min.
Price: $14.98
Release Date: 7/18/2006

• Audio Commentary with Director Rowdy Herrington
• Audio Commentary with Filmmakers Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier
• Trivia Track
• “On the Road House” Featurette
• Sneak Peek: Road House 2: Last Call
• “What Would Dalton Do?”
• Previews


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Harman/Kardon DPR 2005 7.1 Channel Receiver; Toshiba A-30 HD-DVD/1080p Upconverting DVD Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Road House: Deluxe Edition (1989)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 6, 2008)

Some movies reach “cult classic” status because they’re good but simply neglected at the time of their release. Some become cult favorites for the opposite reason: audiences embrace them because they’re so darned bad. Efforts like Rocky Horror or Valley of the Dolls fit into this category.

And then there’s 1989’s Road House, a cult classic that definitely falls into the latter realm. Coming off of 1987’s hit Dirty Dancing, Patrick Swayze nearly sabotaged his career with this flop. Road House might later earn notoriety as a much-mocked piece of schlock, but it didn’t do much in 1989.

At least Swayze’s career rebounded quickly with 1990’s smash Ghost. In Road House, he plays Dalton, bouncer extraordinaire. Frank Tilghman (Kevin Tighe) recruits him to take over operations at his bar the Double Deuce in small town Kansas. Via a big cash payment up front and the promise of $500 a night, Dalton agrees to the job.

When he arrives, he finds the Double Deuce in a calamitous state. Dalton attempts to clean up the place and make it more professional, but he encounters resistance from the current staff. Dalton does manage to straighten out the Double Deuce, but other issues arise. Local developer Brad Wesley (Ben Gazzara) essentially runs the town and he doesn’t like it when anyone stands in his way. This means problems between Dalton and Wesley, especially when our bouncer starts to date Dr. Elizabeth Clay (Kelly Lynch), a local babe for whom Wesley has the hots.

Take that plot synopsis and throw it out the window, for it has little to do with anything that happens in Road House. Here’s the film’s structure: bar fight, plot nugget, bar fight – repeat ad infinitum. The flick is one long brawl punctuate by perfunctory story elements.

No one goes to Road House to find rich characters or involving drama. Back in the Eighties, I suspect the audience aimed at the cheap thrills of all its fights, while now folks watch it for its camp silliness.

I can’t say it satisfies on either account, though it’s better as a piece of cheese; in no way does Road House succeed as a non-guilty pleasure. The flick sets new standards for idiocy, as it often feels like it was made by Hee Haw characters. There’s no a realistic, logical, or even slightly believable moment in the whole movie, and it just gets dumber as it progresses. The violence escalates to an absurd degree and people literally get away with murder.

I admit I have a low tolerance for camp, so that makes me less than enchanted with the film. Sure, the idiocy occasionally amuses; it’s hard to really hate a movie that throws out the line “pain don’t hurt” with a straight face. It also includes possibly the only non-ironic use of a monster truck in cinema history.

I suppose that’s part of what attracts Road House to its fans: its utter lack of self-awareness. The movie takes itself tremendously seriously, and I suspect that makes it more appealing to fans of crap cinema; it doesn’t know just how bad it is.

Almost two hours of stupidity is just too much for me, however. I can understand why those with an affinity for horrible movies enjoy Road House, but I can’t find the same pleasure in it. For me, this is just a lame, tedious piece of junk.

The DVD Grades: Picture C-/ Audio B/ Bonus B+

Road House appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The transfer disappointed.

Most of the problems related to sharpness. While many scenes showed decent delineation, more than a few came across as rather soft and ill-defined. The majority of the softness showed up in bar scenes, so some of it may have resulted from the smokiness of those settings, but parts of the rest of the movie showed similar blandness. I noticed light shimmering and jaggies, but edge enhancement was minimal. Source flaws also failed to interfere, as only a couple small specks materialized.

Colors were passable at best. Some shots displayed reasonably vivid tones, but others tended to be murky and mushy. Again, interiors looked the worst. Blacks were inky, while shadows showed mediocre delineation. The positives occurred frequently enough to make this a “C-“ transfer, but it certainly wasn’t a good presentation.

At least the Dolby Surround 2.0 soundtrack of Road House proved more satisfying. The soundfield opened up matters to a decent degree. Music showed adequate stereo imaging, and the fights created an involving level of activity. The action created a good sense of setting and used the surrounds in a useful manner; they brought out good reinforcement of the elements.

Audio quality was only a little dated. Speech appeared a bit metallic at times, but most lines were fairly natural, and no issues with edginess occurred. Music could’ve been more dynamic, but the songs and scores provided pretty good definition. Effects were also clear and accurate. Though the track never excelled, it seemed fine for its age.

A bunch of extras complete the set. We get two separate audio commentaries. The first comes from director Director Rowdy Herrington, as he offers a running, screen-specific chat. He looks at sets and locations, cast and crew, music, production design, action and stunts.

Despite the movie’s “camp classic” status, Herrington plays it straight here. If he sees the unintentional humor in his flick, he doesn’t let us know that, as he keeps things bland here. Indeed, though we learn a smattering of mildly useful facts, most of the commentary remains quite dull. Plenty of dead air abounds, and when the director speaks, he tends to provide forgettable notes. This is a boring track.

For the second commentary, we hear from filmmakers Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier. They sit together for a running, screen-specific track. Neither had anything to do with Road House, so they’re here essentially to mock it. They throw in some film facts they got off the Internet, but mostly the commentary consists of their random thoughts about the movie.

I’m not a big fan of this sort of camp commentary, as they’re usually dopey and boring. However, Smith rarely is either dull or insipid, so he and Mosier make this an amusing and entertaining chat. They focus on the film’s homoerotic overtones and tell plenty of barely related stories such as Smith’s fight experiences. Really, it’s like hanging out with two funny buddies as they chat during the movie. It’s not mean-spirited, though it’s obvious neither participant thinks it’s a genuinely good film. It’s just a lot of laughs, so it’s definitely worth a listen.

A subtitle commentary arrives via a Trivia Track. This provides facts about the cast and crew along with period details and plenty of snarky cracks about the movie. It proves reasonably informative and enjoyable.

Next we find a featurette called On the Road House. This 17-minute and 21-second piece includes notes from Herrington, film critic Brent Simon, fight coordinator Benny “The Jet” Urquidez, and actors Patrick Swayze, Kelly Lynch, Jeff Healey, and Marshall Teague. “House” looks at the movie’s tone and themes, cast, characters, and performances, fight choreography, and the flick’s legacy.

“House” tosses in some a few good notes about the flick, and it also cleanly splits into Those Who Get It and Those Who Don’t. Lynch and Healey are in the former category, so they offer some funny remarks about the movie and its idiocy. The others take the movie much more seriously and don’t seem to understand that its popularity stems from its terrible quality. In any case, the two factions blend well in this enjoyable piece.

For a look at the movie’s sequel, we go to Sneak Peek: Road House 2: Last Call. It lasts five minutes, 21 seconds as it shows behind the scenes shots from the sequel and interviews with stunt coordinator JJ Perry, musician James Otto, director Scott Ziehl, and actors Johnathon Schaech, Jake Busey, Ellen Hollman, and Richard Norton. The clip offers a general overview of the story and characters meant to attract viewers. It has some value due to its shots from the set, but it remains strongly promotional in nature.

What Would Dalton Do? goes for 12 minutes, 23 seconds and includes comments from coolers “Big Mo”, Andrew, “Bear”, and bouncers Sean, Cesar, Robert, and Riley. (Apparently those in bar security don’t have last names.) We find notes about coolers and bouncers as well as some stories about their real-life experiences. This doesn’t become a substantial examination of the subject, but it gives us a decent overview.

Finally, some ads appear in the Previews area. We find promos for “The James Bond Ultimate Collection”, Population 436 and Freedomland. No trailer for Road House appears here.

Somehow I managed to avoid Road House for almost 20 years, and I wish I’d kept that streak alive. A relentlessly idiotic spectacle, I can’t even muster “so bad it’s good” pleasure from it. The DVD suffers from erratic visuals, but it boasts pretty good audio along with a nice collection of supplements. The iffy picture quality makes this a less than stellar DVD, and the movie itself remains a dog.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.4074 Stars Number of Votes: 27
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