For some odd reason, the memory of this film came back to me, and I wondered where the hell it went, and also, is it even available on DVD? Turns out that yes, it was released on DVD this past year.
For those who don’t know this film (or have long forgotten about it), it stars Ralph “Karate Kid” Macchio as a guitar-slinging Juilliard student who drops out to explore the Missisippi Delta with an aging black bluesman he sprung from an old folks home. I haven’t seen it in over twelve years, and I remember begging my mother to take me to see this R-rated movie when I was 12. (She didn’t, but I saw it a few years later when it ended up on cable television.)
Despite it’s obscurity, the film does have a cult following, as evidenced by the glowing reviews on IMDB and Amazon. Crossroads’ major claim to fame is that it is probably the only guitar movie ever made. The film’s climax is the most memorable part, a “duel with the devil” between Macchio’s character (guitar by Ry Cooder) and Scratch (aka Satan), played to the hilt by former guitar god Steve Vai.
This review on Amazon by an Itamar Katz probably sums up this movie best:
“As a cinematic work, Crossroads is nothing special. Except for Joe Seneca who was great as the aging blues-legend on the run from the devil, the acting is awful. Ralph Macchio is decent, except that he’s doing the EXACT same character he did in Karate Kid. The love interest between Eugene and Frances is silly, shallow and simply doesn’t work. The screenplay, above all, is terrible. The directing and photography are good, which makes the film at least bearable.
“But the film is just an excuse for one of the most amazing soundtracks I’ve ever heard. Classical guitar, Robert Johnson classic blues, Muddy Waters electric blues and hard blues rock run throughout this film wonderfuly; for bluesmen and guitar lovers, Crossroads is a must. The ending with Steve Vai, above all, is one of the greatest scenes I’ve seen and makes the whole movie worthwile - and both Vai and ‘Eugene’ play a KILLER guitar… Overall, a very mediocre movie and for many probably boring, but a cult classic and a musical masterpiece.”