August 2, 2019 The VelociPastor (Movie Review)
He’s a man of the claw-th and one Jurassic priest! The VelociPastor could be the most genius-titled film of this summer, thus, expectations are running high for the Action/Adventure Comedy’s arrival. Wild Eye Releasing deliver this holy dino to DVD and Digital on Tuesday, August 13th, 2019, as well as to Blu-ray on September 17th.
Father Doug Jones (Gregory James Cohan: Where There’s Smoke short 2017, A Little Water 2019) passionately ministers to his flock at the Tenth Street Church of Christ. Though, after his parents die in a tragic car fire, a depression sets in and his friend as well as mentor Father Stewart (Daniel Steere: Monster! or, The Re-Dead video short 2010) urges Doug to seek spiritual enlightenment, to “go where God will not follow.” This brings our heavenly hero to China—which looks suspiciously like the woods of New Jersey—where a dying woman bequeaths him a large claw that she urges him to destroy.
Once he returns home, he begins to suffer from recurrent nightmares and a mysterious pain in his hands. Though he continues to be fearful and uncertain as to what is happening in his life, he will soon receive an answer in the form of Carol (Alyssa Kempinski: The Deuce series, FBI series), a student-slash-hooker with a heart of gold. When he wakes up in her bed one morning, she is quick to inform him that the night before he turned into a dinosaur, ate someone, and, upon witnessing this, she nearly peed herself in fear.
As it becomes abundantly clear that Doug’s life path has been irreparably altered, Carol urges him to use his new power to do good and rid the world of evil. With a set of commandments in place, the newly born VelociPastor first digs his claws into Frankie Mermaid (Fernando Pacheco De Castro: Monster! or, The Re-Dead video short 2010), a local pimp who literally steals candy from babies. Although, ultimately, Doug’s razor-like jaws will ultimately face-off with Father Wei Chan (Jiechang Yang in his acting debut) and his templar ninjas when the dino-priest’s arch-nemesis kidnaps someone close to the pastor, and the battle becomes very, very personal.
So, what does drug smuggling have to do with Christianity? Well, you’ll just have to check out The VelociPastor to find out! Clocking in at 70 minutes, the film was written and directed by Brendan Steere (Monster! or, The Re-Dead video short 2010, Animosity 2013). It also features the acting talents of Jesse Turits (Away From War short 2008, Dinosaur short 2017), Aurelio Voltaire (ABCs of Death 2 2014, ReAgitator: Revenge of the Parody 2017), Nicholas M. Garofolo (Bobo Touch Helpline – The Kisser TV short 2018, Invite Only short 2019), Claire Hsu (Nanny short 2017, You Were Never Really Here 2017), Douglas Saint James (Semblance 2012, Luminosity 2012), George Schewnzer, Janice Young, and David Sokol in their acting debuts, and Zachary Steere (Monster! or, The Re-Dead video short 2010) in the dinosaur costume.
Let’s just be real here: the entire premise of The VelociPastor is so ridiculous that it has to be comedy gold, right? Sadly, no. Sure, the entire film sits upon a foundation of intentional ridiculousness and camp that should have guaranteed excessive Velveeta, but, sadly, the film is ultimately just plain boring. Despite having a short run-time of just over an hour, this is a story that seriously lags. With an extreme penchant for awkward, drawn out pauses and meandering flashback scenes to pad its already succinct run-time, The VelociPastor simply suffers from not enough actual story to keep its action rolling.
Furthermore, if you are arriving to The VelociPastor in hopes of a Jurassic Park-style dino-fright, kiss your expectations goodbye. The dinosaur in question is only displayed in its full-body incarnation once, and that costume is little better (and less funny) than the ones that everyone on YouTube are wearing while shoveling snow from their driveways. For the bulk of the film, Doug merely sports reptilian contact lenses or clawed gloves—and the fact that they are gloves is made abundantly obvious. Also, if for any reason it matters to you, armchair archeologist, the dino-suit is a budget-conscious Tyrannosaurus Rex and not a Velociraptor. But, to be fair, The Priestasaurus Rex doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as The VelociPastor.
All of this said, it’s obvious that the film’s aim is to be low-budget ridiculousness that weighs in far below B-grade schlock. We are meant to witness the asinine claw-gloves, and to see a mannequin’s head rolling out of the frame after Doug attacks a criminal in the park. And that final fight sequence? Well, the practical effects are so bad that they’re at least good for a chuckle. Also, credit where credit is due, there is a laugh out loud explosion in the woods during Father Stewart’s war flashback.
It would certainly be unfair to say that anyone’s acting skills should be judged on a film such as The VelociPastor, but there is some credit due to lead actor Cohan (Father Doug) who marches around in one pair of dangerously short shorts, as well as a lovely orange sweater dress, and slings his (exercise) balls around in the name of comedy. He is not given the most compelling script to work with, but he at least sells us on the idea that he’s a part-time dinosaur relishing in full-time Christianity. Meanwhile, leading lady Kempinski is never all that humorous, but she certainly creates a likable hooker who adds a little something extra to the already wacky tale. Of their co-stars, the stand-out would be Aurelio Voltaire in his role as the exorcist Altair, who is part Pirates of the Caribbean and part stoned mystic.
Capped off with a Punk Rock soundtrack—featuring music from Missouri’s Free Parking!, Pennsylvania’s The Holy Mess, and New England’s Math the Band—in actuality, The VelociPastor ends up aiming to be a mish-mash of James Dean and 1955’s Rebel Without a Cause, 1993’s Jurassic Park, a dash of old Godzilla flicks, and healthy dose of bad ninja films of the 1980s. Considering all these myriad elements, there should be plenty of goofy material to fulfill the film’s campy promises, and yet it all amounts to one laugh out loud moment, a poignant quote from Gandhi, an artfully done, Rock video style segment that is visually pleasing, and a dinosaur costume. Presumably, the outtakes must be funnier than the finished product—but that’s alright. This is still a film about a Velociraptor pastor, and for that Cryptic Rock give The VelociPastor 2.5 of 5 stars.