Twilight Zone – Kentucky Rye (10/11/85)

tzkentuckyrye01Bob Spindler has just closed some sort of big deal that is not important enough to describe to the viewers.  It was big enough to score him a commission of $1,500.  That’s still only $3k today.  A nice payday, but not life-changing — unless you’re Bob Spindler.

He squanders it on buying round after round at the local bar rather than judiciously investing it in 20 year old dancers in the VIP Room.  Or maybe a new jacket — the Murray Hamilton Collection would be a step-up.  He calls his wife and promises he will have just one more before heading for home. He continues to get so loaded that even free drinks aren’t enough to keep his co-workers at the same table with him.

Kudos for them trying to get his keys, but maybe they should have tried a little harder. On the way home, he has a near-miss with an on-coming car and a near-hit with some trees.  Although, in literal terms, it was the other way around.  Neither he nor his jacket is seriously injured.  He blames the other driver, creating instant empathy with viewers everywhere.  Turns out he has fortuitously crashed right in front of the titular Kentucky Rye bar.

tzkentuckyrye14From this point forward, good structure would dictate that everything happens for a reason, leading to an logical conclusion. Unless the desired result was confusion, this was not the case.

He goes into the bar and his wound from the crash is magically healed, he beats the local undefeated champ at arm-wrestling, the bartender calls for drinks on the house, and the bar is on sale for only $1,600 with insanely low APR.  Spindler goes behind the bar and announces another round on the house.  He opens up the taps and fills two pitchers with mostly suds.[1]  He tries to bargain the owner down, but he stubbornly stays at $1,600.

Here’s where I am lost.  Knowing what is coming, I can say there is no reason he should own the bar.  Even if I concede that he must own it and thus it is available at a fire (of Hell) sale price, why is it made just out-of-reach at $100 more than his Commission? And didn’t he blow a chunk of that on booze for his co-workers anyway?

tzkentuckyrye17A stranger bathed in angelic light like Warren Beatty[2] offers to put up the remaining $100.  Spindler buys himself a bar!  He drunkenly tours his new kingdom.  The customers suddenly become motionless or very slow — why wouldn’t it be one or the other?  Spindler passes out and awakens in a busted-ass, dusty abandoned building — the bar he bought last night.  So I guess beer-goggles work on real estate too.

Out of the window he sees his car being hooked up to a wrecker.  The man who put up the $100 appears and says he is the driver Spindler ran off the road last night.  Outside, he sees the man being covered with a sheet and loaded into a hearse as his wife grieves.  Oddly, the wife was in the bar last night even though she is still alive.  And who were all those other customers?  Spindler sees his own body being loaded up and screams from the boarded-up building.

So what was the point of his victim putting up the $100?  The bartender laughs maniacally and says, “It’s yours!  It’s all yours!”  So is he stuck in the bar forever?  Is that his hell — an alcoholic stuck in a bar?  What difference does it make if he owns it? And what does that really mean, that he owns it?  Surely some living guy actually has the title and pays the taxes.

tzkentuckyrye21In the big picture, he did bad.  He is consigned to eternity in this abandoned bar where he will be eternally tormented by the sunny reality he can only see through slits in the shuttered windows.  I’m totally on board with that; I’m just not sure why we needed more dead ends than Sim City.

Despite my bitching, I still rate it 80 Proof.


  • [1] This might be the real reason he goes to hell.  It is fun watching the background extras dutifully try to pour it into glasses, though.
  • [2] Uber obscure.  I saw Warren Beatty on Larry King’s CNN show once eons ago. Thinking it would make him appear like a young stud again, he had the crew bathe him in an amber light which succeeded only in making him look pathetic; but still better than me.
  • Bob Spindler is played by Jeffrey DeMunn from the watchable season of The Walking Dead.  OK, it got good again after they left the farm.  But, for the love of God, let it be Rick that Nagen brained in the season 6 finale.
  • TZ Legacy:  A Nice Place to Visit also had a man end up in hospitable surroundings who ended up with a manically-laughing minion of Satan.
  • Skipped Segment:  Children’s Zoo.  OK for a short, one-note film, but not really what I’m here for.
  • IMDb and YouTube.

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