Father Doug Jones witnesses his parent’s murder by a violent car explosion and begins to question his devotion to God. At the advice of his friend, Father Stewart, Jones travels the world to rediscover his faith, landing him in the deep forests of China where he comes in contact with an ancient, mystical artifact. His discovery is life changing, or rather physically changing, as the power of the relic enables him to transform into a vicious dinosaur. The horrifying thought of his transformation and killing of an armed and dangerous thug has the priest scrambling to recollect himself as the man of the cloth, but the prostitute, who witnesses his true calling of vigilantism, convinces him to use his newfound powers against the swarm of crime. A secret clan of ninjas, acquainted with Jones’ abilities, seek to destroy his unofficial denomination to progress their diabolical plan for domination.
Full disclosure. There in lies a soft spot for bad, sometimes off-script, horror movies involving the prehistoric reptilians. On the USA Network, decades ago when USA Network had late night horror films, “Carnosaur” trilogy was enjoyable to watch, hooking and reeling me into the dino horror subgenre. The categorically offbeat genre even unearthed my celebrity crush even before I knew who she was with “Tammy and the T-Rex.” Even in the heavily edited form, Denise Richards still stunned me with her dino-riffic dynamics. Plus, Vinegar Syndrome is releasing an unedited version! ItsBlogginEvil just posted a review, not too long ago, for another Wild Eye releasing, “Jurassic Dead!” Steven Spielberg and the “Jurassic Park” franchise, of course, laid the foundation of critically acclaimed Triassic and Cretaceous thrillers, but the crude complexion of the indie market feels more at home, more uninhibited, and, definitely, more spirited and that’s what writer-director Brendan Steere and his team breathes new life into with the horror-comedy “The Velocipastor!”
The man behind the titular “The VelociPastor” character is Greg Cohan, a television actor regular, who dons the clerical collar and endeavors through the practical special effects of “The First Purge’s” Jennifer Suarez. Young, fit, and a good sport, Doug Jones is perfect for a clergyman turned velociraptor who dismembers the wicked and karate kicks ninjas while also sporting a pink mini dress in a scene of self revelation and also doing hand-to-hand combat in whitey-tighties. Opposite Jones, playing the love interest, is Alyssa Kempinski as the hooking for tuition pre-law med student, Carol, who becomes the facilitator of Father Jones prehistoric predicament. Jones and Kempinksi charisma shine through the absurdity as their keenest for each other develops into a full fledge fighting duo. Kempinski’s softer touch compared to Cohan’s zany comedy levels out, if that’s even possible, a film about a priest with a dino-lycanthrope complex. “The VelociPastor” supporting cast are equally as sharp with the farcical, pulpy vibe, rounding out with some really fantastic performance from amateur actors, including Aurelio Voltaire (“Model Hunger”), Brendan Steere’s father Daniel Steere, Jesse Turtis, Jiechang Yang, and a pulsating rendition of a worst-of-the-worst pimp with Fernando Pacheco de Castro.
“The VelociPastor” doesn’t take itself seriously, paralleling the similarities to other martial art parodies like “Kung Pow: Enter the Fist,” but Steere incorporates a healthy appreciation for pulp writing and independent filmmaking for his crowdfunded venture. While the “The VelociPastor” might have a trashy, kitschy name to draw in audience and also heavily lined pocket patrons, the film itself isn’t all that trashy, schlocky, or shoddy. Much of the action is not Father Doug Jones as a skin-shredding Dinosaur wreaking havoc amongst the lowlifes and crime syndicates, the very vibrant montage takes care of that, but rather runs a baseline story of a man and a woman, from two separate worlds of prostitution and a man of faith fall in love, has fairly simple and conventional means once all the idiosyncratic glitter and glam is removed; a notion that can be said to be the foundational basis for many other movies. Even director Brendan Steere admitted during a Q and A session that “The VelociPastor” isn’t a jab at the Church, closing the door on conjecture and blasphemous intentions with the ending remark that velocipastor just sounded cool from a harmless auto-correct error.
Wild Eye Releasing and Cyfuno Ventures presents “The VelociPastor” onto a unrated DVD home video. Based off Brendan Steere’s 2011 faux grindhouse trailer of the same title which the director used 16mm Kodak stock, the feature film loses a fair amount of that particular grindhouse appeal, but Steere still manages to manufacture grindhouse attributes by creating scratches on the floor of his dark bathroom and also baking the film in his oven to obtain a warm, dry coloring to give the film age and deterioration. Details in the 2018 film are ten times more distinguishable than in his 2011 trailer and the since being garnished almost completely with practical effects, nothing detailed has grand poise and exhibits every uncouth knook and cranny that only adds to the horror-comedy’s charm. The 2.0 stereo mix has an even keel about it and doesn’t embark on the same grindhouse wear Steere attempts to develop on the image, but the dialogue is prominent and ambience, from the fighting hits to the roar, is on point with depth and range. English closed captioning subtitles are available. Bonus features include a commentary track, gag reel, a Texas Frightmare Cast and Crew question and answer with Greg Cohan, Brendan Steere, and Jesse Gouldsbury, and the theatrical trailer. As about as B-movie as a feature can get, “The VelociPastor” rekindles the jurassic age’s primal instincts and unleashes a new and ferocious cult icon, one that’ll not only bite your head clean off, but will exact the last rites before doing so! Amen!