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‘Be nice’: Kiggins Theatre, Brothers Cascadia Brewing collaborate for 35th anniversary of cult-classic ‘Road House’

By Rachel Pinsky, Columbian freelance food writer
Published: May 17, 2024, 6:09am
5 Photos
Patrick Swayze is Dalton, the cool-headed barroom bouncer who finds himself fighting against more than he bargained for when he is hired to clean up a rowdy nightclub in United Artists' hard-hitting 1989 action film "Road House." (Peter Sorel/United Artists Pictures)
Patrick Swayze is Dalton, the cool-headed barroom bouncer who finds himself fighting against more than he bargained for when he is hired to clean up a rowdy nightclub in United Artists' hard-hitting 1989 action film "Road House." (Peter Sorel/United Artists Pictures) Photo Gallery

For people who love the film “Road House,” it isn’t just a movie but a way of being. I’m not talking about the recent Jake Gyllenhaal remake or the 1948 film with Richard Widmark and Ida Lupino, but the 1989 drive-in classic starring Patrick Swayze.

He plays Dalton, a head bouncer (aka cooler) who brings a focused philosophical intensity to his unusual profession — getting trouble makers (“40-year-old adolescents, felons, power drinkers and trustees of modern chemistry”) out of bars so regular people, who aren’t “too stupid to have a good time,” can have a good time.

If you’d like to study the ways of Dalton, the Kiggins Theatre and Brothers Cascadia Brewing have teamed up to celebrate the 35th anniversary of this B-movie great that goes down well with Cascadia Royale, a smooth American light lager that Brothers Cascadia is offering in celebration of this late-’80s trash masterpiece on Wednesday. (The film was released on May 19, 1989.)

Dalton distills his knowledge into three rules shared at a first meeting with the scrappy staff at the Double Deuce in Jasper, Mo. Rule 1: Never underestimate your opponent, expect the unexpected. Rule 2: Take it outside. Never start anything in the bar unless it’s absolutely necessary. And Rule 3: Be nice. That is, until it’s time not to be nice. He will let you know when that happens.

If you go

What: “Road House” celebration

When: 7 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Kiggins Theatre, 1011 Main St., Vancouver

Tickets: $12

Information:www.brotherscascadiabrewing.com; www.kigginstheatre.com

The 1989 film about a drug infested, den-of-sin dive bar in Missouri may seem like an odd thing to celebrate in Vancouver, but there’s a very real Couve connection here: Sam Elliott. Swayze’s Dalton is a tough guy with a philosophy degree from New York University that no doubt included a thorough study of Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War.”

However, in the physical realm, even an enlightened warrior needs backup when he has a powerful enemy like town baddie Brad Wesley (played by Ben Gazzara). Dalton calls in his old teacher, Wade Garrett (Sam Elliott) to help him clean up the Double Deuce and the town.

Elliott, one of the Couve’s hottest ex-residents, grew up in Portland and attended Clark College, where he discovered theater. His shirtless, tanned likeness graces a velvet painting at the Vancouver Voodoo Doughnut as a shrine to the greatness of our fair city.

Anyway, you can guess how this goes: Good triumphs over evil, the guy loses the girl then gets her back. “Road House” isn’t complex or innovative. But it’s unintentionally funny and a nice backward glimpse into the late 1980s — big permed hair, gobs of gum chewing, clownish henchmen and Swayze with his exquisite abs at the height of his powers.

Before the pandemic, Brothers Cascadia was going to host a showing of “The Royal Tenenbaums” at the Kiggins. That was put on hold when the theater had to shut down. More recently, Brothers Cascadia approached the Kiggins for a film showing and tap takeover. Kiggins owner Dan Wyatt thought a brewery-and-film collab still sounded like a good idea. With the beer cooler named Dalton at Brothers Cascadia’s new Evergreen Pub in downtown Vancouver, it seemed right to show “Road House” in celebration of its anniversary.

The party starts at Brothers Cascadia’s Evergreen Pub in downtown Vancouver where customers can pose with Dalton, the bar’s beer cooler. The pub is offering two new menu items — chicken wings with various sauces and draft cocktails — as well as its regular food menu and tap list. The festivities then shift to a 7 p.m. showing of the film at the Kiggins Theatre where Brothers will take over the taps in the Marquee Lounge. A red carpet welcomes guests as well as photos by Ridgefield-based photographer Chanell Gore that can be purchased and downloaded.

“Road House” attire is highly encouraged. For men, this could mean a moussed-up hair helmet, tight high-waisted jeans, a black mock turtleneck T-shirt, a button-down shirt with the first couple of buttons unbuttoned, or a loose-fitting linen suit with shoulder pads and pleated trousers. Women in the film tend to have an Aquanet-lacquered crown of platinum blonde hair, heavy eye makeup balanced by bright lipstick, and mini-dresses that are often white (a risky move after applying the self-tanning lotion necessary for a “Road House” look). If you’d like to honor Vancouver’s own Sam Elliott, wear all black, dark sunglasses and drive up on a chopper.

In the words of legendary film reviewer Roger Ebert, “ ‘Road House’ exists right on the edge between ‘good-bad movie’ and the merely bad. I hesitate to recommend it, because so much depends on the ironic vision of the viewer.” As a B-movie aficionado, I think that’s just the right type of film to watch on a Wednesday night while sipping a cold lager.

Brothers Cascadia is keen on offering more film-beer collabs in the future. On my last visit to a Goon Burger pop-up, “The Wedding Singer” was playing and “Rambo” was playing on a TV in the bar. As I learned at drive-in theaters, I leaned over so I could watch both at the same time. It was an excellent mash-up that gives me hope for future film offerings from Brothers Cascadia.

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Columbian freelance food writer