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REVIEW | GetEven aka Road to Revenge (1990)

18 Aug 2017

Can the reality of John De Hart live up to the legend? Is GetEven really a calamity of Breen-esque proportions? And what the hell is a shimmy slide? All is revealed...



Country: USA | Runtime: 90mins | Director: John De Hart

Starring: John De Hart, Wings Hauser, Pamela Bryant, William Smith, Jimmy Williams



Spoilt Plot: Detective Huck Finney (Hauser) is badly wounded in a shootout with drug dealers. His partner, Rick Bode (De Hart), appeals to senior officer Lieutenant Normad (Smith) for help, but Normad expresses a lack of concern. In the fallout from the botched bust, Normad successfully blames Bode and Finney for all that went wrong, and the two men are kicked off the force. Some time later Bode is working as a limo driver and Finney has become a bitter drunk. We follow them through the minutiae of their lives, eventually seeing Bode marry his sweetheart and Finney set up for another crime. Normad has become a judge, but both Bode and Finney suspect him of dealing drugs. Bode's new wife, Cindy (Bryant), sees a picture of Normad and recognises him as the leader of a satanic cult from which she recently escaped. The cult murders Cindy, prompting Bode to pursue and execute Normad. Cindy then turns up alive. We stare at the screen in disbelief as the credits roll.



"I thought that name sounded familiar, he's the one who murdered the baby."​​


Struggling actor John De Hart was shimmy sliding into middle-age when he sensibly concluded that he wasn't about to be handed his big break. As we know all too well, the only way for such people to realise their dream of becoming a star is to make their own movie. Armed with a (allegedly) true story about Satanic cults, the rights to at least one song, and more self-confidence than seems reasonable, De Hart began fleshing out what he ambitiously called a screenplay. This is the point at which professional help (either medical or structural) should have been sought, because Geteven has a dizzying approach to storytelling.



"My friends, we are here today to be in communion with our leader Satan.”


Usually scenes in movies serve a purpose. They might progress the plot, build the world, develop characters or attend to the myriad other requirements of a traditional, linear narrative. Geteven, as much as any movie I've seen, is just a series of things that happen. People talk in a hospital, a bail bondsman does his paperwork, someone irons their trousers, etc. None of it serves a purpose. The hospital conversation is irrelevant, we don't know the bail bondsman and we learn nothing from watching trousers being ironed. The actual plot is given no more than five minutes screen time over the course of the movie. We're told who the bad guy is, nothing of consequence happens for 80 minutes, then the bad guy gets killed. All this essentially makes Geteven an avant-garde art film.  



"I'll get even for you Cindy, I promise I'll get even."


Its circuitous structure is perhaps the movie's oddest idiosyncrasy, but it isn't its most amusing, De Hart himself takes care of that. He's a full-blown deluded narcissist, but so lacking in charisma and talent that it takes the edge off how unlikeable these people usually seem on screen. His persona incorporates both the uber-ego of a Neil Breen, and the childlike enthusiasm of a Steve Barkett. Like Breen, De Hart/Bode is meant to be an expert in anything and everything, but like Barkett he's not beyond using his powers for good and may even have a little self-awareness. So we have the obligatory toe-curling sex scene with an actress who's way out of his league, but we also have moments that could almost be called self-deprecating. Neil Breen only drives a limo when he's undercover as the world's greatest assassin. As Bode, De Hart drives one because it's the only job he can get.



"I forgot how great you can sing.”


Unfortunately, De Hart's human traits are his downfall. The man's lack of charisma is astonishing; he has the least screen presence of all these self-financing amateur weirdos. The chemistry he shares with poor Pamela Bryant makes Tommy Wiseau and Juliette Danielle look like Bogart and Bacall. So for him to take to the stage and sing is a gift that cannot be underestimated. Like a rabbit in the headlights, he stands there swaying in front of six extras while the microphone attempts to convey the horror of the thing being done to it. Wings Hauser comes off little better as Bode's buddy, Huck Finney. During one lengthy (seemingly well-lubricated) monologue, De Hart looks like he wants to lamp the stuttering, stumbling, ad-libbing Hauser. You sense the cost of re-shooting the scene is all that stops him. (In an interview with The Bristol Bad Film Club, De Hart revealed that Hauser was indeed prone to ad-libbing.) William Smith plays... William Smith; has he ever done anything else? Which leaves Playboy bunny Bryant as the most adept actor among the principle cast. To be fair to Smith he mustn't have known whether he was coming or going. He starts the movie as a cop, the next time he appears he's somehow become a judge, then we see him in his night job as the leader of a Satanic cult (sacrificing a baby), and for most of the finale he's a drug dealer turning over millions of dollars a week. Did he have to be the bad guy of everything?



"This bitch ain't good enough to follow Satan.”


De Hart unquestionably deserves a seat at the top table of deranged egomaniac shit-peddlers. He may only have produced one movie, but it ticks all the boxes and he's threatening a sequel. Until then we'll have to be content with this bizarre insight into the shimmy sliding world of a bona fide fruitcake.







WHAT?: 10





Video: A Brief Tribute to GetEven

 Monarch Productions/Grant Enterprises



Video: BMB Acting Masterclass Episode 3: GetEven

 Monarch Productions/Grant Enterprises







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