FertiliChrome: film noir, sci-fi movie written and directed by PS O’Neill and produced at Velvetone studio in Ellensburg, Washington State, USA in 1988. This indie film has been re-mastered to be released in 2019.
FertiliChrome is a moody low-budget indie sci-fi horror grungedelic cult film with steampunk overtones. This Stimco-Velvetone production, written and directed by P.S. O’Neill, takes place in the blazing, windswept Eastern Washington desert and was shot over a period of thirty days. Paying homage to sci-fi and film noir classics—1930’s Buck Rodgers films, Dune by David Lynch, and early Mad Max—it is the very definition of a retro-retro production, filmed in 3/4-inch U-Matic video, in 1988, the action taking place in the dystopian future of 1976, and finally being released to audiences in 2019.
The setting is a world that has become a nuclear waste dump. The story revolves around Christian Cairo (Scott Renderer), his estranged wife, Sylvia (Rachael Parks Weatherford), and their daughter, Tanya (Rebecca Grace). While Sylvia and her boyfriend, Dale (Alda Shepherd), are traveling to The National Cheerleader Conference in Arid City 5, Cairo travels the backroads of the Power Landscape to monitor the nightly energy transmissions for Operation Power Suction. Dr. Stimson (played by renown sampling artist Steve Fisk), is a fame-obsessed genetic scientist with his eye set on a Nobel Prize. He controls three motley misfits (Van Conner, Mark Pickerel, and Mark Lanegan of the Screaming Trees rock band) who terrorize the local inhabitants, as they prepare their nefarious scheme to kidnap a vibrant, young cheerleader to carry out a deadly breeding experiment.
The drug, FertiliChrome 76-6-6, is a brew of molecules that purports to enhance fertility. Desert rat Jack Frontille (played by poet, Richard Denner) and his more than creepy nephew, Peter (played by director O’Neill), are the dastardly drug dealers.
The misogynous nature of the enterprise is obvious, and the characters perpetuating this crime are not likable, although their performances are effective. Rebecca Grace shines in her role as Tanya, a stubbornly uncooperative victim.
The production values of this film, which owe much to Sam Albright’s cinematography, are surprisingly creative; the performances are skillful; and the plot twists are entertaining. There are moments that are darkly humorous, moments that are heart-wrenchingly tragic, and moments that are outright funny. This minor masterpiece by P.S. O’Neill is fascinating and worthwhile, though not for youngsters.