Written and directed by Brendan Steere.
Starring: Greg Cohan, Alyssa Kempinski, Daniel Steere, Jiechang Yang, Jesse Turits & Fernando Pacheco De Castro.
In a similar vein as Hobo With a Shotgun, The Velocipastor is a film that appeared on fan’s radars after a grindhouse-style trailer was uploaded to YouTube. From there, the trailer garnered thousands of views, tens of thousands in fact. It took a while for the movie to see the light of day, with the original short film’ trailer being released in 2011and then the film itself not being released until 2017/2018 when it aired at festivals with a physical release in 2019.
As you can tell from the length of time it took to get the movie made, not everything was smooth sailing with the film when attempts to crowdfund it failed. Luckily, a private investor funded the film and with a budget of $35,000, it was finally made.
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I’m drawn in by ridiculous titles and The Velocipastor – which apparently came about after writer/director Brendan Steere typed ‘velociraptor’ into his phone, only for it to be autocorrected to what is now the movie title – is exactly that.
Am I expecting greatness? Not exactly, but I am expecting something fun, creative and most of all entertaining.
Pastor Doug Jones (no, not that Doug Jones, a different one) witnesses the horrific death of his parents in a car explosion, at least that’s how I imagined it anyway as the effects are missing. Whether that was intentional, or as a result of not having the budget for the effects, I don’t know, but regardless the scene worked.
This causes Doug (Greg Cohan) to have a crisis of faith and so, taking the advice of his friend and mentor, Father Stewart (Daniel Steere), Doug journeys to a place where “God won’t follow.” Under the rationale, that if he finds God, then he clearly hasn’t been abandoned by him. Then again, this advice came from the same friend who also tells Doug, “It’s what parents do. They die on you.” As Doug wails and weeps, drowning his sorrows in chalice-fulls of altar wine.
Finding himself in China, Doug stumbles upon a woman with an arrow stuck through her chest. After hilariously asking her, “Are you hurt?” She uses her dying moments to hand Doug an artefact, asking him to destroy it. Unfortunately, Doug doesn’t understand Chinese and has no idea what has been asked of him.
Returning to the U.S. Doug undergoes a transformation into a dinosaur and saves a hooker named Carol (Alyssa Kempinski) from a mugger. The two then join forces to help each other and use Doug’s dinosaur transformation ability to rid the world of evil people, whilst also allowing Doug to continue preaching.
All of this leads to a Vietnam flashback, exorcisms and an epic battle between a dinosaur and some ninjas.
Given the budgetary restrictions and the fact that this means that the dinosaur costume isn’t on screen for very long, mostly at the finale, Velocipastor is still an entertaining movie and one that actually had me laughing on more than one occasion. It made up for the lack of budget with some humorous writing and dialogue with lines such as one character telling Doug, “I don’t know much about God.” Only for Doug to reply, “I don’t know much about dinosaurs.”
In the context of the movie it worked really well and the fact that the lines were delivered in a way that wasn’t played for laughs and instead let the dialogue do the majority the work.
Having the actors take these moments seriously, and not make the lines ‘jokey’ worked in the movie’s favour.
I also thought the actors did a great job, especially Alyssa Kempinski who really brought her character to life with her performance and, Greg Cohan who brought a determined yet innocent likeability to his portrayal of Father Jones and the two characters worked really well together.
Brandon Steere has added a lot of things to the movie to keep the pace up and to keep it interesting, such as a very random, yet hilarious, Vietnam scene that comes out of nowhere, adds nothing to the story, contains an absolutely ludicrous moment and yet works because it’s entertaining.
There are plenty of intentional low budget/grindhouse tropes in the movie too such as some erratic camera movements, boom mic’s in shot and editing jumps. These are all kept fairly minimal too so that they don’t feel overused or annoying.
Well, there was one thing that I really found annoying and that was the overused maniacal laughs. It worked well with some characters, such as with pimp Frankie Mermaid (Fernando Pacheco De Castro), because it suited his character. But, between the ninjas when Wei Chen (Jiechang Yang) and Sam (Jesse Turits) were both chuckling away. It felt too forced as it became a weird tennis match of maniacal laughs. I get what they were going for, but it just annoyed me.
Still, if my only real nit-pick is from a single moment that probably lasted less than a minute, then that’s pretty good going.
Velocipastor is exactly what you would expect it to be and if you’ve seen the original short film/trailer and liked it, or just the title intrigues you, then you really should give it a shot.
You can find The Velocipastor on Amazon prime in the US: https://www.amazon.com/VelociPastor-Gregory-James-Cohan/dp/B07SFL17TM
On DVD in the UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Velocipastor/dp/B07QV2JSZM/ref=sr_1_1?
You can view the movie trailer here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yAjPUhIkdo&list=PLRe4hQ4ryr-lrFt0u6tc1MC-Xy44QL-6L&index=8&t=0s
as well as the original short film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDNzzhCpqxA
and you can follow the movie on the official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/thevelocipastor