Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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Qlassic Quotes: The Ultimate Line of Intimidation in Road House (1989)

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on June 6, 2007

Keep your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel

Various 80s dudes have long been preaching to me (and whoever else will listen) about the virtues of Road House, the post-Dirty Dancing Patrick Swayze vehicle which raked in about a tenth of that movie’s box office, was nominated for five Razzies (luckily for Swayze and producer Joel Silver, this was the year of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier) and would probably have permanently wrecked Swayze’s career had he not gotten a leg up from Whoopi Goldberg and the Righteous Brothers a year later. Needless to say, I was somewhat skeptical, but as usual, 80s dudes were right–Road House is a film of countless bizarre and delectable wonders. These include:

  • Full-cast bar brawls roughly every fifteen minutes
  • Lots of fat dudes with beards wearing suspenders
  • Monster trucks
  • Multiple reapetedly exploding buildings
  • “Pain don’t hurt”
  • Performances from all-time Top 20 That Guys Keith David and Kevin Tighe
  • Tons of ridiculously gratuitous nudity, including of Swayze himself
  • Performances from future Big Lebowski alums Sam Elliot and Ben Gazzara (in their respective good and evil roles)
  • A hysterically unerotic Swayze-Kelly Lynch sex scene set to Otis Redding’s “These Arms of Mine,” as if to say “Hey, remember that really succeessful movie I was in a couple years ago with all those cool classic soul songs?”
  • “A polar bear fell on me”

Anyway, these are all well and good, but none can even come close to the film’s best moment (and overall best scene), which occurs after the house of Swayze’s kindly old landlord is blown up by one of Gazzara’s evil goons (Marshall R. Teague, famous for pretty much nothing else). As he drives away on his motorcycle, cackling evilly (of course), Swayze gives chase, eventually intercepting him with a heroic leap and jump-starting the movie’s most epic fight scene. Their pre-fight exchange

“Prepare to die!”
“You are such an asshole!!”

is almost worth an essay in itself, but actually, it’s just the beginning. The real corker comes a couple minutes into the fight, where a bloody, worn-down and hopelessly shirtless Swayze appears to have bitten off more than he could chew for once. A few punches to the back and kidney appear to render him helpless, as Teague lifts him up, puts him in a headlock, and whispers this priceless chestnut in his ear:

“I USED TO FUCK GUYS LIKE YOU IN PRISON!!”

Does it quite match Iceman chomping his teeth in Maverick’s general direction in Top Gun for the most blatantly homoerotic attempt at misguided badassery of the decade? It’s probably too close to call, but no matter–any upper ground Teague could possibly have had in the fight is instantly lost by this come-on-as-threat, a situation helped little by his proximity to Swayze’s glistening, half-naked body, nor by the George Michael-esque earring he’s wearing.

That’s not to say that there’s nothing intimidating about this line–in fact, had he tweaked it slightly, it might’ve actually sounded almost cool. Here’s some suggestions for possible alterations, all of which I think would have been largely preferable in such a situation:

  • I USED TO FUCK GUYS TOUGHER THAN YOU IN PRISON!” (better demonstrates Swayze’s relative weakness)
  • I USED TO MAKE GUYS LIKE YOU MY BITCH IN PRISON!” (gets the same point across without being needlessly graphic)
  • I USED TO HAVE GUYS LIKE YOU SUCK MY DICK IN PRISON!” (shows greater dominance in the situation)
  • I USED TO FUCK GUYS LIKE YOU IN PRISON EVEN THOUGH I WOULD HAVE PREFERED TO HAVE SEX WITH A FEMALE! (just so Swayze doesn’t get the wrong idea)

But no, Teague prefers to keep both the sexual preference and consensuality of his prison trysts ambiguous, which while refreshingly open-minded for a tough-guy action movie, is probably not the sort of impression he wanted to get across in this particular scene.

After the line, Swayze quickly turns the fight around by using the old “get-them-to-get-their-kicking-leg-stuck-in-a-v-shaped-tree-and-then-kick-’em- in-the-balls” manouever, and eventually wins with a fatality by ripping Teague’s throat out, tiger-style (or is it puma? Is there a difference?) But really, Swayze had won the fight long before, with Teague’s utterance of this somewhat provocative but largely inappropriate would-be one-liner. After a line like that, it’s only a matter of time before someone kicks you in the testicles and then rips out your throat.

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3 Responses to “Qlassic Quotes: The Ultimate Line of Intimidation in Road House (1989)”

  1. My friends and I watched this the other night because it was on On Demand for free, and it certainly is as glorious as you have described it.

    I have only seen a more awkward sex scene in “Mitchell” and at least that had MST3K commentary to keep it from hurting too much.

    And Wesley’s ultimate demise was, without a doubt, the most satisfying and comical Villain Death of all time. I think Peter Jackson ripped off that scene for “Fellowship of the Rings.”

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