When it comes to so campy it’s good horror, there are all other films. And then there is The Velocipastor. Other films want to be The Velocipastor. Few manage to achieve its glory. Most die trying. And in the end, there is only one movie you will ever need about a priestly were-dinosaur…
…“Rated X by an all-Christian jury,” as the film’s opening titles proclaim, The Velocipastor is visual cocaine written/directed by Brendan Steere (Animosity). The ludicrous film stars Greg Cohan as Doug, a priest who loses his parents in a car explosion and decides to take his grief to China, where he receives an ancient ability to morph into a dinosaur. Returning home and dealing with his newfound power, a hooker named Carol (Alyssa Kempinski) convinces Doug to use his dino-abilities to take a bite out of crime, literally. And that crime just happens to be a drug-ring run by overzealous ninjas.
If the synopsis doesn’t give you a good idea of the sort of film you’re in for, then said parental explosion surely will. Instead of actually seeing an explosion, Steere (who also edited the film), slaps a “VFX Car on Fire” label onto a blank space where the car should be. What makes a film like The Velocipastor instantly endearing is that it knows exactly what it wants to be, and pretty quickly tells you you’re either on this ride like Fred Flintstone sliding down a dino-neck after work, or you’re not. This is the kind of movie where Doug asks a woman with an arrow through her heart, “are you okay?” It’s the kind of film that indulges in excessive, drawn out evil bad guy laughs. There isn’t a moment in The Velocipastor that isn’t weird, over the top, or completely laughable. This movie is one of the most intentionally stupid movies since the dawn of dinosaurs, and I relished every second of it.
Accompanying us through the insanity is a cast of characters who all seem to have been born without important pieces of their brains, specifically, the part that teaches you how to interact with humans. The acting in The Velocipastor is so bad you’ll often wonder if its intentional or not, but seeing as how Steere is attempting to capture the aesthetic of cheap, 70s grindhouse movies, I’ll give everyone the benefit of the doubt. And besides, these characters grow on you. Especially Doug. Cohan is convincing as a virginal priest who is essentially an overgrown man-child. The sort of grown man who spends his days in brightly colored polo shirts and thinks of hanging out with his parents as the bee’s knees.
Doug’s personality helps to warm us towards the other characters as well. Kempinski is already painfully sweet on her own, but in moments like one scene where Doug and Carol appear ready to make the dinosaur with two backs, they instead high five. We watch them hang out and just be good friends, like kids, and there’s something about that that melted my dino-loving heart. Doug also has a strange though understandable father/son relationship with Father Stewart (Daniel Steere), who always just wants to help Doug, despite his incredibly blunt, poor word choices.
The Velocipastor stands out for more than just its concept. With the film, Steere captures a 70s-era grindhouse aesthetic with a home video appearance, using bold yellow lettering, an upbeat score, and wild editing that both spoofs the era and pays loving homage to it. The camera zooms in and out with an irrational purpose. Various characters pop into random flashbacks and meaningless exposition. And there’s even a scene a little over halfway through where the entire film is recapped with a seizure inducing splash of frames playing over an inappropriately sexy montage. It’s one of those things you really have to see to believe, but one thing’s for sure: The Velocipastor is never taken seriously. Steere is like a kid on Christmas morning, playing with all of the new toys at his disposal and just having a roaring good time with the audience.
The effects are no different when it comes to Steere’s the sillier the better approach. For those expecting an effects showcase with a ton of gore and munched body parts, The Velocipastor has answered your prayers. Better yet, it’s all practical as far as I can tell. Except for one moment, which is a literal explosion of gore that had me dying laughing. And while some are going to sigh and roll their eyes, I love this movie so much for using a cheap, rubbery dinosaur puppet as our title monster. If you’ve seen those YouTube videos of people running around in T-rex costumes, the suit in The Velocipastor is roughly the same quality at a glance, but it’s all part of this movie’s prehistoric charm. My one issue? There’s not nearly enough of it. At a certain point, I felt like Malcolm in Jurassic Park, wondering, “you do have actual Velocipastor’s in your Velocipastor movie, don’t you?” But I get it. When you see the costume, you understand there’s a good reason we don’t see much of it.
Watching The Velocipastor, I felt like I was back in time, seeing that fateful meteor head towards earth, yet without a care, because the party I was attending was just too good. The Velocipastor isn’t for most people. It isn’t even for many people. But for those that enjoy the sort of purposely terrible movie in the vein of films such as Dude Bro Party Massacre III or Wolfcop, this is one I guarantee is good for a few laughs. My rating on this one has more to do with entertainment value than actual “quality”, because The Velocipastor is the violent, feel good were-dinosaur movie of the year. The only tragic thing about it is that it ends.
The Velocipastor is OUT NOW on VOD from Wild Eye Releasing, with a Blu-ray release coming September 17.
By Matt Konopka