ROAD HOUSE (1989)
I watched this film again last night. It stars Patrick Swayze, Kelly Lynch, Sam Elliott, and Ben Gazzara. Although the film was not generally favored by critics, it has gained a cult following. You can count me in, as I can’t help but take the DVD off the shelf from time to time for another 114 minutes of guilty pleasure.
There is indeed a Jasper, Missouri, though it’s not just outside Kansas City, as stated by Tilghman (actor Kevin Tighhe), the owner of the Double Deuce. The movie was actually filmed in various California locations, including the towns of Reedley and Sanger. Wikipedia states: Critic Robert Trussell noted, “Little effort was made to hide the (California) mountains in the background.” Although California’s diverse geography and climate does lend itself to serving as a convenient doubling location, and there are indeed places that could definitely stand in for Missouri, the fact is that Hollywood has often goofed in its portrayal of Missouri, or the Midwest in general. (I offer a big thumb’s up to those movies that were actually filmed on location–e.g., Mr. & Mrs. Bridge, Article 99, Kansas City, Ride With the Devil, and Winter’s Bone.)
Location filming aside, it is easy to understand why Road House has drawn a cult following. Violence, humor, sex, music, a compelling story, interesting characters, and strong performances by all actors involved. The casting is truly inspired–especially dropping Ben Gazarra into the juicy role of the town’s unscrupulous villain.
Road House sits proudly on my DVD shelf among a handful of other guilty pleasures such as The Hot Spot (1990), which stars Don Johnson, Virginia Madsen, and Jennifer Connelly, and Wild Things (1998), starring Matt Dillon, Neve Campbell, Kevin Bacon, Denise Richards, Theresa Russell, and Bill Murray.
By the way, keep your eye out for the remake. Moviefone: The 1989 film featured Swayze as a bouncer with a shady past who’s hired to work at a Missouri watering hole, where he soon runs into trouble with the locals. The remake already has a script (written by Michael Stokes) and the project just hired veteran action director Rob Cohen. (11/27/13)
Maybe I’ll check it out. But remakes are rarely better than, or as good as, the original.