I was talking to our pal Shane of the Government last night about our shared fondness for the movie Crossroads. No, not the Britney Spears version. This one came out in 1986 and stars Ralph Macchio as a Julliard dropout looking to “learn the blues” from a grizzled old dude who had, many years ago, sold his soul to Satan in exchange for mad harmonica skillz.
In order to win back the blues dude’s atman before he goes to the Great Roadhouse in the Sky, Macchio must enter a guitar duel with the Devil’s prized “headcutter,” played by notorious shredder Steve Vai. How rad is that?
If you haven’t seen Crossroads, trust me, it’s great hokey fun. And I say that not just because I was a dead-ringer for Macchio when I was his character’s age. I especially love the older black African-American gentleman who plays the Devil. In fact, it got me thinking that I need to make a list of the best portrayals of anthropomorphic Evil in cinema. But that’s for another post.
One of my favorite scenes in the flick is when the bluesman finally arrives at the dusty crossroads where he originally made his infernal deal. Satan’s assistant comes roaring along in a sportscar — a flashy upgrade from the Model-T that he drove in the flashback segments. Blues dude says, “We’re here to see Legba.” (Papa Legba, if you didn’t know, is the official emissary of the Loa in Haitian Vodou.) Satan’s henchman replies, “Legba? Where you been at, Slick? He done changed his name to Scratch!”
Here’s the axe battle between Macchio and Vai (Macchio’s guitar parts were actually played by Ry Cooder):
And here’s a “surprise alternate ending” not seen in the original film:
The movie is available to stream instantly on Netflix. I think I know what I’ll be doing tonight!