The merits of the label “so bad, it’s good” are debatable—if you truly enjoy something, how can it be “bad?”—but, semantics aside, if you’re a fan of the movies featured on The Flop House, the filmography of Neil Breen, or the 800-pound gorilla of the outsider film world, The Room, then Get Even should be on your list. Initially released in 1993 as Road To Revenge and finished in 2007 (it’s pretty obvious which parts are which), Get Even was a DIY labor of love for director John De Hart, a Los Angeles attorney who decided to make his dreams of being an action star into reality.
To do so, he hired B-movie actors—early ‘80s sex symbol Pamela Bryant (H.O.T.S.), mustachioed, gruff William Smith (Conan The Barbarian, Red Dawn), and drive-in madman Wings Hauser (Vice Squad)—to play his fiancee, former boss, and best friend, respectively. The result is Get Even, a movie about a good cop (De Hart) who takes down his literally Satanic, drug-dealing former commanding officer (Smith), a guy by the uniquely Cold War name of Normad, after he and his partner (Hauser) get framed for Normad’s illegal activities and booted from the force. Although ostensibly a revenge saga, the “revenge” bit doesn’t really get going until about an hour in, thanks to frequent pauses for De Hart to perform his original songs, recite monologues from Hamlet, and, of course, perform with Bryant in multiple sex scenes.
The tendency to write in shirtless scenes for himself is the most Tommy Wiseau-esque thing about De Hart, who otherwise comes off as a pretty chill guy—he wears a white track suit to his onscreen wedding—who just wants to knock back a couple of beers and have some fun making a movie. He’s not a professional by any means: The fight choreography is weak, the acting largely amateurish, and we’re pretty sure the “Italian restaurant” where De Hart and Bryant go for a reconciliation dinner (she left him to become a druggie Satanist after he was booted from the force, you see) is in someone’s living room. Despite all that, it’s an incredibly entertaining watch, thanks to some truly strange screenwriting—consider the scene where a woman calls the police because another woman’s dancing topless to De Hart’s early-’90s country number “The Shimmy Slide”—and an even stranger performance from Hauser as “Huck” Finn, the alcoholic ex-cop whose solution to a past due gas bill is to shoot it with his service revolver.
Get Even has never been theatrically distributed or officially released on DVD or Blu-ray (especially not on Blu-ray), and the screening of the film tonight at 12:15 a.m. at Chicago’s Music Box Theatre is being screened from materials provided by De Hart himself, as was the trailer embedded above. Basically, you’re not going to get another chance to see this movie. So if you’re not already attending Cinepocalypse this weekend, you can get your tickets for The A.V. Club Presents—Beyond The Room: Get Even here.