The VelociPastor, 2019.
Written and directed by Brendan Steere.
Starring Gregory James Cohan, Alyssa Kempinski, Claire Hsu, Daniel Steere, Yang Jiechang, Jesse Turits, Fernando Pacheco de Castro, and Aurelio Voltaire.
After losing his parents, a priest travels to China, where he inherits a mysterious ability that allows him to turn into a dinosaur. At first horrified by this new power, a hooker convinces him to use it to fight crime. And ninjas.
It’s always tough to know how much of the joke an over the top monster movie like The VelociPastor is in on. Back in the 50s and 60s when these were real B movies, they could afford to be completely ridiculous because honestly, audiences didn’t know any better. But at some point that turned into filmmakers trying to capitalise on the silliness and turn them into a tongue in cheek comedy version of what once was.
And while it’s absolutely in on the joke, The VelociPastor doesn’t cut the mustard. Even with the over the top silliness it’s clearly embracing and relishing in, it’s not quite able to be convincing enough as a spoof comedy of a B movie.
As a backyard, home-made movie goes, it has several redeeming qualities. It’s clearly been made by a production team who have spent time crafting it and it is for the best part, aware of its own limitations. It’s not over stretched unnecessarily into a 90-minute feature and the real skills of writer, director, editor Brendan Steere lay primarily in the latter role. There are some nicely put together sequences including split screens and montages which, while they might be entirely unnecessary, shows that Steere has a pretty good eye for an edit.
Movies of this ilk are left wanting in simple things like story and making basic sense. It’s the difference between Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus and Sharknado with the former making absolutely no narrative sense and is just an excuse to make a bad movie while the now cult-like Sharknado series at least strings together something coherent for audiences. The VelociPastor does thankfully sit east in the second camp. Its story can be followed from start to finish and while character development isn’t something the script bothers with, at least the characters’ motivations are clear. Oh, and the soundtrack is quite clearly just a load of music by punk rock bands that the director likes, something which I’m totally on board with.
These positives are unfortunately the limits to this movie’s upsides. I’m all for a spoof version of something that’s taken seriously elsewhere like a horror/monster movie but to achieve that, you’d hope The VelociPastor would feel the need to insert a few jokes. If Brendan Steere wants to have something that walks the line between comedy and a B movie, it needs something more than its own ridiculousness. Having people shouting into the sky and laughing for an unnecessary amount of time isn’t a replacement for comedic setups or good writing.
And while it’s a given that the effects, practical or visual, in this kind of movie isn’t going to be the level of the latest Hollywood outings, this is one of the areas which really stops The VelociPastor being anything more than backyard movie. The promise of a dinosaur is teased throughout and you see glimpses of the beast at several points which are edited well enough to hide what was actually being used in place of expensive VFX. This is, after all a well-trodden path; if you have the time to really take a look at Bruce, the mechanical shark from Jaws, it doesn’t look any good at all.
But launching into the final sequences of it narrative, The VelociPastor gives a warts-and-all look of the hero’s dinosaur form and it’s a really disappointing pay off. If this was cut in the same way as previous sequences, Steele might have gotten away with audiences suspending their belief just long enough to finish the movie.
Overall, The VelociPastor probably isn’t going to make many must-watch lists but I feel as though there’s a group of people who love these low-budget movies that will probably enjoy the complete absurdity of the whole thing. Unfortunately, I’m just not one of those people.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Martin Izzard is a film enthusiast, Netflix worshipper and Disney fanatic and writes about the impact film and TV has on us and on our culture. He can be found on Twitter as @Martin_Izzard and at www.talkaboutmovies.co.uk