One of my pet peeves is films that deliberately try to be camp. The approach rarely works, and the result is often a painful mess to sit through. Thankfully, the filmmakers behind the jaw-droppingly odd and side-splittingly funny The VelociPastor eschew that route and instead transcend camp with a barrage of weirdness and knowing ineptness that is an absolute blast.
Father Doug Jones (Gregory James Cohan) is a young priest living a quite, pious life until his parents are killed by an exploding car. He then ventures to China to think things out, but his peacefulness is short-lived as a dying woman presents him with a dragon tooth, which he is cut with. He finds himself suddenly gifted with mystical powers, including turning into a raging dinosaur (initially against his knowledge).
He saves a prostitute named Carol (Alyssa Kempinski) from an attack, and she takes him home and tells him about his newfound powers. The two make a plan to use those powers for good, and Father Jones finds himself waging war against pimps, nogoodniks, and ninjas.
The VelociPastor is a throwback to 1980s direct-to-video flicks, complete with training montages, corny acting, cheesy dialogue, and all the other things that made those predecessors so fun. Writer/director Brendan Steere is obviously a talented filmmaker who knows how to make a movie seem inept, rather than actually being so. Although a few of the cast members’ performances border on the questionable, Cohan and Kempinski are both solid actors, and their skills bring the film to a higher level than that of similar efforts.
It is obvious that Steere and his cast and crew had a fun time making The VelociPastor, and that infectiousness really shows. They had a hoot with their ultra-low budget, too, with plenty of gags — from the dinosaur suit to obvious mannequin heads substituting for beheaded human ones — that produce smiles and laughter.
To be sure, this sort of broad — and often irreverent — humor isn’t for everyone. If you are someone who usually avoids movies of this type, rest assured that so am I, so when I say that The VelociPastor is that rare gem — a parody pastiche that works, and that provides laughs instead of groans — I am not giving my recommendation lightly. Best seen with a group of friends or like-minded cinematic souls, keep an eye out for this offering as it makes its film festival rounds.
The VelociPastor screens at Windy City Horrorama, which runs April 26–28 at the Davis Theater in Chicago, Illinois.