Hey folks, Harry here with Vern's latest review of something odd and amazing... namely ROAD HOUSE 2. Now I want to clarify something for Vern and lots of you. I honestly feel that if you are not of comic lover, there's a very good chance you'll like X3. And just because you haven't read as much, or if you can divorce what you've read from what the film was... or however you approached X3... you're absolutely right and valid in your opinion. There are no wrong opinions... unless you're a Republican. Giggle. Anyway - here's ROADHOUSE 2 and VERN - enjoy...
My dear readers,
Well hopefully you guys missed it but I guess I kind of blew it with my last review here. I did X-MEN PART 3 which I remember enjoying but it turns out I was incorrect. There was some sort of error involving a magic crystal and fire birds or something like that, it's kind of over my head but the point is I didn't know enough about comic book graphic novel funnies to really grasp the true meaning of that movie. They're telling me I was mistaken. Sorry nerds.
Okay, so I don't know the Darth Phoenix Saga from the Phoenix Suns. So sue me. But don't be such a Magneto. The Ain't It Cool News is big enough for comic book fundamentalists and infidels alike. We can live in peace and we can share our passion for the films of cinema and/or DVD. All I can do to make things right is return to an area I have more expertise in than children's comic strip books: the area of straight to video sequels to ROAD HOUSE. I dare any one of you fuckers to question my credibility on this topic. You can't.
Now let's get something straight. Nobody asked for a new chapter in the ROAD HOUSE saga. Because chapter 1 said it all. So making a movie like this is playing with fire. You come back this many years later and you don't have Patrick Swayze, you gotta be careful. You gotta respect the characters, you gotta respect the mythology, you gotta respect the fans. And what are the chances of that happening?
To be frankly honest I do not trust Sony to produce a high quality DTV sequel. The best they've done is probaly STARSHIP TROOPERS 2 just 'cause it's got bugs crawling out of brains and shit like that. HOLLOW MAN 2 is mediocre and then you have WILD THINGS 2 and 3 and CRUEL INTENTIONS 2 and 3, and all four of those are empty retreads of the originals that don't capture the sleazy texture and ridiculous twists that mean so much to us fans who grew up on, or at least once watched, or in some cases probaly masturbated to, the original works. If you are one of these casual viewers who didn't understand the Shannon-Tweed-movie-inhaling-mercury vibe of John McNaughton's original WILD THINGS then maybe you would be fine with WILD THINGS DIAMONDS IN THE ROUGH, because you get to see boobs in one or two parts if I remember right. But for those of us who really get it, we can see what a waste of potential it is and what an insult it is to the source material, the fans, Jesus, America, etc.
Scott Ziehl, the director of ROAD HOUSE 2 (IMDB lists the subtitle "Last Call," but that's not on the box), doesn't have anything in his past to suggest he can fill the shoes of Rowdy Herrington. I've seen CRUEL INTENTIONS 3 and EARTH VS. THE SPIDER, and neither is anything to write Ain't It Cool News about. Believe me, I tried, but I couldn't come up with anything.
But when ROAD HOUSE 2 starts you get hit with this energetic opening credits montage involving a swamp, small planes, giant bags of cocaine, crack pipes and vials, swamp boats, guns, nefarious transactions, crocodiles and a slo-mo a butterfly knife, all set to horrible white man's blues rock. The credits end with a dramatic shot of Playmate-looking identically dressed twin cowgirls driving up to a bar called the Black Pelican in a yellow sports car. These girls are on the cover, but I can't figure out if they are even in the movie after they get out of the car. What I'm getting at is, this movie is something special, at least as far as DTV sequels starring Johnathon Schaech go. Not that I've seen 8MM 2, but I'm just guessing. ROAD HOUSE 2 doesn't have as many amazing lines as the original, it doesn't have Ben Gazarra or Sam Elliot, and it uses that annoying approach where they repeat a bunch of lines from the original ("I thought you'd be bigger," "be nice," etc.) But believe me, I've watched alot of terrible DTV sequels and I was amazed at how much this captured the unique ROAD HOUSE feel. I didn't even know it was possible.
If you haven't seen the original, what the fuck is your problem. Patrick Swayze (the pedophile from DONNIE DARKO to you kids) plays Dalton, the world's second best cooler, a philosophy major turned asskicker who's hired to come clean up a ridiculously violent bar in Missouri. It turns out the town is under the thumb of Ben Gazarra (THE KILLING OF A CHINESE BOOKIE) so Pat takes his shirt off, does a bunch of kickboxing, falls in love with a sexy doctor, and says ridiculous shit like "Pain don't hurt." My favorite part is near the end when Ben Gazarra says, "I see you've found my trophy room. The only thing missing is YOUR ASS!" The movie is jampacked with gems like that. The sequel is not such a constantly rewarding treasure trove of awesomeness, but it's got enough of the same spirit to be admirable.
I'd figure anybody who'd make a sequel to ROAD HOUSE would know that the original is funny, so they'd try to make theirs funny and ruin everything. Not the case here. Somehow they approach it with the exact same seriousness. In a way it's a miracle, like the birth of Christ or the flying of Super-man. The story revolves around The Black Pelican, a remote Louisiana bar owned by Nate Tanner (Will Patton). Nate shows off his fighting skills and bouncer technique at the beginning, so you assume it's a loose remake with him as a new Pat Swayze type. A former Black Pelican employee named Wild Bill (Jake Busey - the young man's Gary Busey) is trying to buy the place for drug trafficking purposes, but Nate won't sell. So WIld Bill and his gang ambush Nate. He kicks all of their asses until a sexy female knife thrower struts in out of nowhere and makes a pincushion out of him.
Next we meet Nate's nephew Shane Tanner (Schaech), a DEA agent in New York who is so cool he wears his DEA t-shirt while undercover. Another agent disguised as a stripper pretends to arrest him, then brings him into the VIP lounge for a lap dance. Because it's important for the hero to make a good entrance.
When Shane finds out his uncle is in the hospital he first mentions that someone killed his father, then drives to Louisiana ("I don't fly. Too dangerous"). He takes charge at the Black Pelican, "a hotbed of drug activity" that's "destined for trouble." When he gets there the staff recognizes him as "Dalton's kid" and we finally realize that he's the son of Swayze's character, out to avenge the murder of his father. It turns out Dalton travelled alot (true, we saw that in the original) so Shane was raised by his uncle Nate, who taught him how to kickbox. And he learned how to bounce, or cool, or whatever, from watching both his uncle and his dad. He tries to recite Dalton's Three Rules from the original but the staff already knows them. I'm sure it's posted on the wall somewhere.
There are many reasons why this is a worthwhile DTV sequel. Number one, it's full of action. "Intense, Nonstop Action is on Tap!" says the back cover. There's alot more fighting in this one than you get in modern Seagal movies, or even some of Van Damme's, which is especially impressive since you're actually watching a ROAD HOUSE picture more for the dialogue than the action. You get alot of punching, alot of bashing heads into things, some flying stools, an occasional unnecessary flip or exploding car. There's a shootout where jars of martini olives are collateral damage (thank God the maraschino cherries are spared). Maybe the best part is when a Benedict Arnold bouncer is making a phone call and behind him you suddenly see Shane ram through the window using a garbage can lid as a shield.
In the original classic there's a yuppie bar brawl where, for the first time on the silver screen, a woman is kicked in the balls. RH2 doesn't go that route but there are at least 6 male balls kicked in this movie (assuming none of these guys ever had testicular cancer). The most damaging groin attack is actually the love interest kicking Schaech in the balls as part of their courtship.
Which brings me to the number two reason why this is worthy. There is all kinds of ridiculous shit that happens, and goofy characters and inexplicable behavior. I don't know why, when Shane says to his obviously smitten new acquaintance, "Hey, I didn't get your name," she chooses to flip him the bird and drive off. Or why the evil girl knife thrower grabs a random lady in the bar by her blonde hair and licks her face. I can't even fully account for the part where Shane reaches into his pants and tucks his dick in. I've only seen the movie twice though so I'm sure there's some nuance and subtext and what not I haven't picked up on yet.
Although he's obviously no Ben Gazarra, Busey's character Wild Bill is a good chump villain with his bad goatee, loud shirt and cowboy boots. In one scene he makes out with two chicks in a hot tub while sharing a drink and discussing business with his lawyer. In another scene he holds a cane while sitting on a couch, which in my opinion is not a necessary time to hold a cane. He's real over the top, like when he flips out and yells at his underlings, suddenly slaps one of them and then pulls a gun on the guy who interrupts to tell him there's a phone call. Instead of telling them to kill, though, he tells them to "get on the horn with the lawyers." Actually, later he does order a murder. "Tonight at last call. Don't bother me with the details."
Definitely the funniest scene for Wild Bill is when he loads up his whole team of thugs and rides a skiff up to the love interest's porch. All he says is, "Stay away from that pretty boy over at the Pelican tonight. Unless you want to get yourself killed." Then he makes a little twirly gesture with his finger and they turn the boat around and float away. I guess his thugs must like riding around in boats otherwise they would've pointed out that it would be easier to call her.
For once Will Patton plays a nice guy, and even when he's in the hospital he gets to fight. Wild Bill tries to ambush him but he sneaks out of his bed, somehow switches into an orderly outfit (including shower cap) and fights with a mop. He says, "You can't settle things with your fists and sweat anymore," but he keeps trying anyway. Shane doesn't get stabbed all the time like Dalton in the original, but Nate does. It's not clear if he has a sexy doctor to sew him up. Since Shane doesn't get cut up too bad he doesn't need one, but he does have a sexy ex-Army grade school teacher who he screws up against a wall and then later she backs him up with a shotgun.
None of this would work if they had chosen the wrong guy to play Shane. I don't know how the fuck they did it but they found the exact right guy to play Swayze's son. A while back I wrote about this sequel being in the works and I said they should get "a Jim Belushi or a Coolio type" to play Swayze's character. That would've been funny but they knew what they were doing when they got this Schaech guy. He must've studied the Swayze filmography and practiced in his backyard for years because he just has a Swayze feel down perfectly. He talks like him, he acts like him, he kicks like him. The only thing missing is the ridiculous hair. Schaech really puts alot into the movie because in addition to starring, he apparently did a rewrite of the script with his partner Richard Chizmar. The ol' database of internet movies says they have written a bunch of stuff together including a Stephen King adaptation called "From a Buick 8" that George Romero is trying to do. (You know how George Romero is always trying to do a Stephen King movie. It's just one of those things.)
I'm not stupid. I know ROAD HOUSE fans are going to ask a LOT of this movie. So I gotta be clear, this is not a 100% perfect sequel. There is no mention of Sam Elliot's mentor character, Wade Garrett, the one guy who is a better cooler than Dalton. Many of us Road-fans have dreamed for years of seeing Wade Garrett return as a Ben Kenobi style advice-giving ghost. Unfortunately Sony doesn't have the balls to deliver what the fans demand and have instead made a safe DTV sequel for the general audience who are not as educated about these matters. Alot of people will feel betrayed because Sony chose to kill off Dalton, and off screen. It doesn't even sound like he put up a fight. The son says he found him dead in the living room. He doesn't even mention if any of the furniture was smashed. That's not the end we want this franchise to have. The more I think about it the more I fuckin hate this bullshit. You can't just shit in a ziploc and tell us it's pudding you sorry sons of bitches.
Nah I'm just fuckin with you boys. If you love ROAD HOUSE, I think this is actually worth renting for a laugh. It is in the higher tier of DTV sequels, even if no women are kicked in the balls. The only bad news is you gotta wait until July 11th to see it.
Until then, everybody be nice will ya,
My Glorious Home
The Add On Out Back
p.s. This is a serious review, if you motherfuckers keep writing "Vern again with another hilarious review" at the top you're gonna ruin me. Show me some respect or I might have to move to Cineaste or Film Comment or somewhere like that.