Faust Movie Friday: Crossroads (1986)

Faust Movie Friday

It’s Friday, guys!  Usually on Fridays during AWESOME-tober-fest I do movie reviews in what I call Fangoria Movie Fridays.  However, since I’ll be doing Devil movies this year, I’ve decided to rebrand these Friday movie reviews as Faust Movie Friday!

Today, I’m talking about Crossroads from 1986 starring Ralph Macchio, Jami Gertz, and Joe Seneca.

1986 was a sweet spot for Ralph Macchio. He was in two movies that year; Karate Kid Part II and Crossroads. So he was at the height of his mainstream penetration. And Crossroads feels like an odd movie to do during this time. But I’m so glad that he did.  I’m a big fan of old blues music anyway, but there’s a lot to love about this lesser known, underappreciated movie.  And yes, the devil makes an appearance, and he’s a *great* version of Ol Scratch.

Before we get to Scratch, let’s talk about the movie in general.  There’s always been this old American folk tale about blues legend Robert Johnson selling his soul to the devil so he could play the blues guitar like no one else.  This movie takes that small urban legend and runs with it.  We even start with that very image.  Robert Johnson at the Crossroads making his deal with someone who is clearly more than he seems.  We later learn it’s the Devil’s assistant.

We then cut to Eugene played by Ralph Macchio. A gifted classical guitarist who is studying at Juliard, but really only wants to play the blues.  He’s studied the blues, read about them.  Learned about all the legends and the tales.  So he thinks he’s tracked down blues legend Willie Brown, the last person to play with Robert Johnson before he died.  And Eugene hopes to talk to Brown to get the fabled “lost song” of Robert Johnson.  Willie says he’ll give it to him if Eugene breaks him out of the old folks home and takes him back to Mississippi.

So Eugene gets a part time job on the maintenance crew of the home.  You, know to help him “case the joint”.  And because it’s Ralph Macchio, he has to pop the collar of his coveralls while mopping the floor. Eugene then uses his maintenance access to break Willie out the home and they hit the road back to Mississippi.

And cue all the normal road trip events; they don’t have enough money, they get in trouble in a bar, they meet a wayward teen girl, steal a car, get harrassed by small town cops.  All the stuff you expect to see on a roadtrip movie but I’m thoroughly enjoying the trip.  The whole time we think Willie just wants to get out of the home and live the rest of his life back in Mississippi, but we later learn he has alterior motives.  Willie apparently made a similar deal to the same man as Robert Johnson, and Willie wants to go back to the Crossroads where he made the deal to get out of it.  And he’s using Eugene to get there.  However, along the way, Willie winds up teaching Eugene what it means to be a real blues man before the big final confrontation with Ol Scratch.

And here’s Ol Scratch.  Played by Robert Judd.  I don’t know where this guy came from, but he is an AMAZING on screen Devil.  Looking at his IMDB he’s only done 2 movies; one back in 1977, and then Crossroads.  But he is awesome as Scratch.  Like an old, friendly small town southern preacher.  But underneath, you can feel a bit of menace.  I’d forgotten how good Judd is as the Devil.  Anyway, Scratch won’t let Willie out of his contract unless he has something to bargain with.  Eugene offers himself.  Scratch suggests a contest between Eugene and his man, guitarist Jack Butler.  Winner take all.

Eugene agrees, and suddenly they are transported to what looks like a small barn being used as a blues bar.  And Eugene goes up guitar to guitar against Jack Butler, played by the awesome Steve Vai.  This final battle is really feast for the eyes and ears.  I love it.

Check it out for yourself.  But honestly, if you haven’t seen the movie, just watch the whole movie.  You won’t be disappointed.



Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

3 Responses to “Faust Movie Friday: Crossroads (1986)”

  1. Not seen this film for years but I remember loving. Still have the vinyl LP of the amazing soundtrack.

  2. Such a great movie that does not get talked about.

  3. Naila Moon aka M. M. Hudson Says:

    I have never seen the movie before but that was an awesome view and a feast for the ears.

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