OK, here I am, once again, gushing about yet another passionate filmmaker whose work I recently discovered. I’m amazed, sometimes, by how much I love this kind of ameteur stuff, you know, as opposed to mainstream Hollywood movies and network TV shows. This time, my spotlight shines on Chris .R. Notarile and Blinky Productions INC [blinky500] who offer “some of the coolest fan films and original content you will probably see online.”
The Retcon Chronicles is a brand new web series that follows a group of vigilante superheroes investigating the death of a homeless woman which subsequently leads back to the ominous research facility- Retcon Labs. But what they find is far from what any of them ever expected.
The Retcon Chronicles (2014) was directed, written, shot and edited by Chris .R. Notarile; stars Dominique Storelli as Kayla The Centurion, Robert Tovani as The Avenger, Kylie Contreary as Phantom Faye, Hidekun Hah as Ken the Specialist, and Andrea-Nichole Olivas as Madaline Hess; and guest stars Michael Seth Huntsman as Subject – 0, Shannon McDermott as Sara/Celista, Jeff Richards as Jimbo, and Tom Ito as King the Specialist. The pilot was filmed with no budget, while 12 episodes were pitched via an IndieGoGo campaign, but, the funding goal was not met. Hopefully, Notarile will proceed anyway, undeterred. Watch the series pilot here …
First, I love the opening credits sequence. The industrial theme song is “Break Shins To This“ by Seattle-based digital hardcore band Rabbit Junk [JP Anderson and Sum Grrl]. Second, I love that the superhero team is lead by a female. Dominique Storelli is very good as Kayla The Centurion, and she is an amazingly beautiful woman. However, much like angelboi2k in the YouTube comments, I’m left wondering why she’s so antagonistic toward The Avenger or why she thinks he’s acting like an ass. If he were bitter or resentful or even just more sarcastic, it would make sense. I think some of his lines probably should’ve been read with more umbrage. As they are, he comes off way too nice to deserve her hostility. But, I can overlook this.
Finally, I love Phantom Faye! I was sold from the get-go with Kayla The Centurion as the team’s leader, but, when Phantom Faye popped in at the morgue, I knew I was getting into something even cooler. Faye’s best line: “Any more of us and we’re going to need matching outfits. Go team,” she quips, after The Avenger tells her he’s going to call The Specialist as backup. Kylie Contreary, who is very tall, is great – and adorable! Watch her, sans Phantom makeup, in Illuminati Inc. [not a Blinky film]. Oh, and Phantom Celista is awesome, too – in a creepy Carnival of Souls kind of way! More Phantoms, please!
The Retcon Chronicles, despite the confusing interaction between Kayla and The Avenger, is a cool alternative to mainstream comic movie adaptations, and it’s a fun introduction to Chris .R. Notarile‘s original “universe.” The web series is, in fact, connected to some of Notarile‘s other original content. Related films include:
The Protector (2006) – An aged superhero (Tony Dadika) with a heart condition recalls his days of glory as The Protector (Greg DePetro). It’s a poignant film. Jimbo references The Protector in The Retcon Chronicles.
Jack & Jill (2010) – Two homicidal assassins [Brandon Slagle and Kim Santiago], who were part of “super secret soldier reprogramming lab experiments”, take over a live television broadcast. The characters of Jack and Jill are a re-working of The Joker and Harley Quinn. The film is dark and unrelenting, and Kim Santiago is badass!
CHOICE (2011) – A depressed, suicidal actress (Kerri Miller) meets choice personified (Mandy Evans) and must choose between life or death. This dark but ultimately inspiring film is quite possibly my favorite Blinky short. It’s absolutely perfect – from the opening shot of alcohol being poured into a glass to the closing credits over which an affecting song plays ["Out of Control" by New York City-based dance rock band Hypodive]. One location, two characters, and two amazing performances. It’s so damn good, let’s watch it here …
So, why didn’t I make CHOICE the focus of this post? I don’t know. Anyway, the character of Choice is the obvious inspiration for The Retcon Chronicles‘ Phantom Faye. The next two related sci-fi/action films are set in the same future, after a second U.S. civil war, and feature some of the same cast members [Roberto Lombardi, Kasey Williams, Shawn Parr, and others].
Perfect: Android Rising (2013) [Trailer 1, Trailer 2, Teaser] – Set (mostly) in the year 2059, rebels in a totalitarian future capture the new Republic’s android killing machine LIA (Samantha Talbott) and re-program her to think and feel. This entertaining feature will be released on DVD in the U.S. on 2/17/2015. Retcon Labs is the manufacturer of the android killing machines. Watch it here.
American Lawless (2012) – Set in the year 2112, former outlaw Luke (Shawn Parr) sets out to rescue his wife Rose (Kasey Williams) from the ruthless gang he betrayed. This film is, basically, a post-apocalyptic western. I like the plot twist, and the soundtrack music.
Chris .R. Notarile and Blinky Productions INC have been producing “high quality films… without the budget” since 2004, but, I only just discovered them now, via The Retcon Chronicles. They have so many excellent shorts, fan films and features to offer in genres like drama, action, horror, superhero, and comedy. However, you probably won’t find them unless, like me, you’re looking for them. Blinky is definitely “Hollywood’s best kept secret!!!” Or at least one of them. So, let me mention [more than just] a few of my Blinky favorites [other than the ones I've already mentioned], and some that I’m sure will become my favorites when they’re made (or made available)!
First, more SUPERHERO fan films …
Catwoman is realized, in a sexy purple suit worn by the lovely Niki Notarile [Chris's ex], in Catwoman (Principles), The World’s Finest [with Tawnya Manion as Power Girl, Persiana Cota/Lisa Adams (voice) as Livewire, and Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation" over the closing credits], and the excellent 6-episode mini-series Catwoman: The Diamond Exchange [Episode III: Home Invasion is my favorite episode for reasons that will become obvious in a forthcoming post, although Episode V: The Transporters Return is awesome, too!]. Oh, and Choice herself, Mandy Evans, plays Catwoman, in black leather, in The Knight Waltz.
The Joker and Harley Quinn are brought to life in a series of short films inspired by the Heath Ledger version of The Joker from The Dark Knight (2008). The films were directed by the very lovely Kim Santiago [who also plays Poison Ivy]; written by Chris .R. Notarile and Kim Santiago; and star Chris .R. Notarile as The Joker and Johanna Telander as Dr. Harleen Quinzel/Harley Quinn. The individual films are Call Me Mr. J (Part I), Anything You Say Mr. J (Part II), Well Done Mr. J (Part III), and Sincerely Mr. J (Part IV). Or, if you like, you can watch the whole saga as The Complete Mr. J.
Finally [for superhero favorites, anyway], there’s Elektra (The Hand & The Devil) which was co-written by and stars Kim Santiago as the title character. If nothing else, this film, for me, is better than both Daredevil (2003) and Elektra (2005). However, I’ll watch Kim Santiago in anything and, luckily, she’s in a lot of Blinky films!
Next: DRAMA! HORROR! Or both!
Bitter Sweet (2006) is a thriller about a girl Amy (Natalie Laspina) facing her evil alter ego Jean (Niki Notarile). I love this short! However, I think it might have worked even better if the final shot [pun intended] was the only shot that revealed the twist. SPLIT (2012) explores the same theme but with a very different twist ending, as Alison/Lisa (Suzi Lorraine) fight over control of their body. Both films were shot in Notarile‘s dank, dark basement [as was Anything You Say Mr. J] to great effect. I love the idea of split personalities at odds with each other. Suzi Lorraine, by the way, has a long resumé of films I need to check out! Finally [for dramas], One Night Stand (2010) is a thriller in which a girl (Zoe Sloane) wakes up next to a dead body in a motel room. These three films, each with their own unique twists, fit together perfectly. However, SPLIT, along with CHOICE, is part of Notarile‘s “message in a bottle” series. The other films in the series are ROSES (2012), HOST* (2012) [co-starring Dana Jesberger who also appears in Perfect] and the very touching SUPERHERO (2012) [co-starring Joanna Telander].
* How ironic would it be if, at the end of HOST, a couple of thugs break into the girl’s apartment and kill her before she can extend her bloodline? Anyway …
iPSYCHO (2010), again, was co-written by and stars Kim Santiago. She plays Cat Vicious, a shock jock podcaster, who attracts a tech-savvy psychotic listener. It’s a very good little slasher film with an excellent performance by Kim Santiago. I love the character of Cat Vicious. I’d love to see a drama about her. In iPSYCHO II (2013), the tech-savvy psycho targets Stanton Beckford (Rick Zahn), an ultra-conservative talk show host. The sequel doesn’t have Kim Santiago but it does have a dark twist ending. Notarile and Blinky have also produced a number of fan films for horror franchises like Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th. Check them all out right here. Oh, and have a Merry Christmas with Axe Massacre!
Speaking of fan films, it’s Chris .R. Notarile‘s Escape From New Jersey (2010) [Part I, Part II, Part II, Part IV, FULL]. This Snake Plissken fan film is recommended mostly for Hector De La Rosa‘s spot-on portrayal of Plissken and, as always, the appearance of lovely Kim Santiago! Snake Plissken, of course, was portrayed by Kurt Russell in John Carpenter‘s Escape From New York (1981) and its inferior sequel Escape From L.A. (1996). Notarile even has an excellent cameo as Loud Mouth Trucker [aka Jack Burton from John Carpenter's awesome Big Trouble in Little China (1986)]. De La Rosa also did his own Snake Plissken fan film, The Escape Agenda (2012). Oh, and check out his spot-on portrayal of Antonio Banderas in Notarile‘s fan film The Legend of El (2013), inspired by Robert Rodriguez‘s “Mariachi” trilogy [particularly Desperado (1995)]. That film also stars the adorable Andrea-Nichole Olivas as Boss Lady.
Finally, here’s a few Blinky projects that I’d love to see …
Stand Off (2012) [Teaser Trailer, Trailer 1, Final Trailer], Chris .R. Notarile‘s 2nd feature film [after Methodic (2007)], is a crime drama about “a group of elite female bank robbers are thrown into a Mexican stand off when they discover that someone on their team might be a snitch for the cops.” It stars some of Notarile‘s usual suspects: Mandy Evans, Kim Santiago, Kerri Miller, Ella Jane New, Roberto Lombardi and Kasey Williams. The film was distributed by Tom Cat Films. OK, so where is it? I’d buy it, or rent it, without question. Oh, and where’s Jane’s Last Stand (2011), the prequel to Stand Off?
JACI [Opening Sequence, Promotional Trailer, Music Video], starring Mandy Evans, is “an action thriller about a former black ops agent turned New York bounty hunter who discovers there is a hit squad coming for her and her team.” Check out some artwork here.
Armed Robbery (?) is “an action movie involving guns, girls and lots of money.” That’s all I know. And, that it stars Kim Santiago. That’s all I need to know. Check out some artwork here.
Daddy’s Girl (?) is “a new suspense thriller about a manipulative teen and her vengeful father.” And, that it stars Zoe Sloane (with Kim Santiago). That’s all I need to know. Check out some artwork here.
Chris .R. Notarile is my new favorite ameteur filmmaker. The only thing missing from most of his original content films is the budget they deserve. He’s got everything else, including a very talented crew of usual suspects – like, for instance, Kim Santiago! Someday, I’m sure, Notarile will be behind a big Hollywood blockbuster. Of course, if that happens, I’ll probably hipster out on him. But, he deserves the success.