Blu-ray Review: ROAD HOUSE Collector’s Edition

Sep 07, 2016 Posted by in DVD/Blu-ray, Reviews | Comments

A modern day western, Road House is the classic tale of a small town under the control of an oppressive tyrant which hires an outsider to fight back for them. This only makes the tyrant madder and life worse for the townsfolk who ultimately have nothing left to lose and finally fight back, standing up for themselves in one big final showdown.

The mysterious (and seemingly singular-named) Dalton (Patrick Swayze) is the best bouncer / cooler in the industry. A master of mixed marshal arts with a degree in Philosophy, he prefers to use Nietzsche over knuckles to peacefully put a stop to unruly bar patrons, but can kick butt if he has to. When a man named Tilghman (Kevin Tighe) from the small town of Jasper makes Dalton an offer to name his price to help him clean up his bar, the Double Deuce, he happily accepts.

Daton soon finds that Jasper is controlled by Brad Wesley (Ben Gazzara)—an evil megalomaniac who does whatever he pleases, takes whatever he wants and has the local authorities in his pockets. Unhappy that an outsider is interfering with his town, Wesley sends some goons to teach Dalton a lesson. However, when Dalton turns out to be more of an adversary than he expected, Wesley starts going after the townseople who Dalton cares about, and then the gloves come off and and the real Dalton comes out.

Released in 1989, Road House grossed nearly double its $17 million budget and it went on to have long-term success as a cult classic. It features a great cast, many of whom would go on to have successful careers in Hollywood. First and formost is a very fit Patrick Swayze (as the bouncer, Dalton) who had at that point already acted in Red Dawn and Dirty Dancing and who would follow up Road House a year later with Ghost then Point Break and a be crowned by People magazine as Sexiest Man Alive in 1991. Other cast members include Kelly Lynch (as Doc, the tough yet sexy small town doctor) who was just coming off Cocktail and Bright Lights, Big City and who would go on to star in films like Drugstore Cowboy, Desperate Hours and the romantic comedy Curly Sue. Sam Elliot (as the legendary bouncer Wade Garrett), a real casting boon, for prior to this film, Elliot already had an excellent body of work in both film and television in the action and western genres with a stint on Mission: Impossible and appearances on Gunsmoke, Mod Squad and Hawaii Five-O and a starring role in the feature film Shakedown. After Road House he would go on to star in quite a few big box office films including Gettysburg and Tombstone and most recently he’s returned to television in the series Justified and The Ranch, further solidifying his role as the quintessential American cowboy. There are a lot of familiar faces in the cast with plenty of other notable actors including the acting debut of accomplished musician Jeff Healey, Kevin Tighe (who I will always remember from the “Cutting Cards” episode of Tales from the Crypt), Kathleen Wilhoite (ER, Gilmore Girls) and a brief appearance by Keith David.

Featuring a brand new 2K scan of the inter-positive supervised by the film’s original Cinematographer, Dean Cundeyhis, this Blu-ray release is probably the best the movie has ever looked. While not as crisp and striking as a modern HD movie would look, the transfer has a very cinematic quality to it that fits perfectly with the film and adds to its character. The audio track offers clear dialog and Jeff Healey’s guitar rocks. However the 5.1 DTS-HD track really excels during the films numerous big action sequences with loud bar brawls, smashing tables, cracking glasses, explosions and more. This new deluxe edition offers over 3 hours of bonus content, much of which is brand new for this release. And that doesn’t even count the two entertaining full-length commentary tracks by director Rowdy Herrington and fans Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier. Rowdy’s commentary is filled with great insights into why he made certain decisions, historical location and set info and all sorts of neat behind the scenes info. Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier’s track is absolutely hilarious, it’s obvious these guys are fans of the film and have done their research (especially Mosier) offering up the exact type of commentary you expect two longtime fans/friends watching this movie together would do.

What’s Included:
Film: (114 min)

  • 1080p / Widescreen 2.35:1
  • Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English Dolby Digital 2.0
  • Subtitles: English

There is a second Blu-ray with over 3 hours of bonus materials, many of which are brand-new for this release.

    New Features:

    • “I Thought You’d Be Bigger”: The Making of Road House (1:03:15)
      Features interviews with director Rowdy Herrington as well as actors Kelly Lynch, John Doe, Kevin Tighe, Julie Michaels, Red West, Lisa Niemi Swayze, casting director Jakie Burch, director of photography Dean Cundey, editor Frank Urioste and more. They talk about making this B movie, knowing full well that they were making a campy movie, but playing it straight to bring the best performances possible.
    • A Conversation with Director Rowdy Herrington (29:38)
      An interesting piece where Herrington talks about his transition to directing and how he got involved with the film. He recounts how producer Joel Silver (who was working on Die Hard at the time) talked him into doing the film. He then talks about the casting, Swayze and more.
    • “Pain Don’t Hurt”: The Stunts of Road House (22:30)
      Cast members John Doe, Kelly Lynch (and more), director Rowdy Herrington and second unit director/stunt coordinator Charlie Picerni talk about the action and stunts in the film and how the film featured “real stunts, real fights and real action…no visual effects”.
    • “Pretty Good For A Blind White Boy”: The Music of Road House (9:23)
      Director Rowdy Herrington and John Doe, Red West and other cast members talk about what it was like working with first time actor and accomplished musician Jeff Healey as well as Michael Kamen’s scoring of the film.
    • Remembering Patrick Swayze (15:06)
      Lisa Miami Swayze talks about Patrick, dancing and how they met and their life together. Rowdy Herrington, Terry Funk, Kelly Lynch, Marshall R Teague and others also talk about their memories of Patrick Swayze.

    Previously Released Bonus Material:
    These features have been ported from previous home video releases of the film.

    • On The Road House (17:24)
      Patrick and the cast talk about the popularity of the film, playing their characters. This was obviously filmed earlier than the other pieces.
    • What Would Dalton Do? (12:27)
      Real coolers talk about their sometimes humorous experiences and describe the difference between a cooler and a bouncer. They also talk about the character of Dalton.
    • Theatrical Trailer (1:58)
    • On The Set (3:45)
      Behind the scenes footage taken while making the film during the big monster truck scene and one of the big fight sequences.
    • Patrick Swayze Profile (2:42)
      A mix of narration and interview, Patrick Swayze talks about his character and what interested him about the script, acting, doing his own stunts and more.
    • Selected Soundbites (11:01)
      A bunch of short soundbites from an interview with Patrick Swayze, an extended version of the interview featured in the Patrick Swayze Profile extra
    • Photo Gallery (3:20)
      A bunch of promotional shots of the cast and theatrical posters are shown with The Jeff Healey Band’s “When the Night Comes Falling from the Sky” playing in the background

Final Thoughts:

My Rating
A Must Have For fans of the film,
Worth a Look for anyone else.

No one is going to say “I thought you’d be bigger” about this edition of the film. Jam-packed with loads of extras and two engaging commentary tracks, fans of the film are going to love Shout! Factory’s new, deluxe package. Road House is quite possibly one of the highest production value B movies I’ve seen. Over the top bar fights, gratuitous nudity, cursing and memorable cheesy dialog, it’s easy for me to see why Road House has become a cult classic.

Being only 14 at the time of the film’s theatrical release and this being an R-rated film with nudity and swearing…I never saw it in the theater. You would have thought the teenage me would have found this one on cable, but somehow I managed to miss it there as well. I knew Road House had a following, but I guess I never realized it was classified as a B movie. To be fair I do love me a good late night B movie. However, this being a late 80s “Hollywood” movie starring Patrick Swayze and Sam Elliot I went into my first viewing with certain expectations of a bar brawlin’ action/comedy/drama flick and for the first 2 acts of the movie that’s pretty much what I got, plus some cheesy dialog, a cool modern western sensibility and a fair amount of cursing and nudity.

I’ll try not to spoil anything here, but in the third and final act, the film takes a pretty violent turn that I was totally not expecting (though looking back, I probably should have). Up until this point in the film, Dalton got into plenty of fights, some blood was spilled, but you know…”boys will be boys” and the loser just left licking his wounds and lived to fight another day. You know…Karate Kid style…sweep the leg Johnny…crane kick…Daniel wins…goodbye upset Johnny…but don’t actually put anyone in a body bag. By the third act, the stakes were obviously much higher in Jasper and the film felt more like a Steven Seagal flick (which, I guess is probably why the film’s screenplay writer, David Lee Henry, went on to pen Out for Justice after Road House) with some gruesome deaths. With it being a modern western and there being the escalating tension, I should have seen it coming, but for me (on that first viewing at least) it just seemed like a big shift in tone.

Newcomers to Road House who don’t appreciate the B movie genre or realize what type of film this is, may find themselves a bit confused as to why this film is so popular.

All in all, I enjoyed the film (even more so with the commentaries). Road House is exactly the type of movie that Rowdy Herrington set out to make…a perfect late night beer and pizza movie best enjoyed with rowdy group of friends. Shout! Factory pulls out all the stops to honor the film’s cult status with a grand Blu-ray presentation.