A ludicrous monster movie which is way more entertaining than I expected, The Velocipastor really must be seen to be believed. On VOD soon.
If you follow any kind of horror or indie film-related social media, odds are you’ve seen posters or press releases about The Velocipastor in recent months, and thought someone was having a laugh. I’m here to tell you The Velocipastor is real: I’ve seen it, and it’s frankly adorable.
Greg Cohan plays Father Doug, a young priest whose faith is shaken when his parents are unceremoniously blown up. He travels to China to soothe his soul and has — let’s say — a strange mishap while he’s there, coming home to find that he develops an unusual hunger and turns into a dinosaur when angry. As you do! He makes a new friend in Carol (Alyssa Kempinski), a law student/prostitute, who helps Doug see that he can use his new gift for good. But in doing so, he makes enemies of a group (apparently called a “stealth”) of ninjas, who are dealing drugs to further God’s work. Truly.
These two main characters have just enough depth to make them sympathetic, comic-book style though they may be. The cast is well chosen to deliver these parts, having significantly more talent than many cheap horror flicks I’ve seen. Cohan plays Father Doug like blending Dexter with young Richard Chamberlain comes naturally to him, and Kempinski gives reluctant hookers a new girl-next-door-who-fights-bad-guys image.
Brendan Steere wrote and directed The Velocipastor with obvious heart and love for his craft. He pulls tropes and recognizable scenes from many other monster movies (I nearly said “similar films”, but I just can’t) and applies them with affection rather than sarcasm: the almost chaste love scene, the meaningful pauses during a fight, the flashbacks to war, etc. And there is no pretension on display here: the special effects (such as they are) are all practical and joyfully cheap; plenty of fake blood, plastic heads and paper-mâché. There are some subtitles, though these are presented in a bright color, harking back to old Kung Fu or wuxia films.
Along with the ludicrous story and the sheer passion that went into The Velocipastor, the other aspect I can rate is the humor. I had expected The Velocipastor to be too daft for my taste, or have gags that make me groan, but it was quite the opposite. The visual and spoken humor is all witty, and none of it heavy-handed or overtly mean or sarcastic. Even the jokes about Christians are gently affectionate: “Dinosaurs never existed, but if they did, I certainly don’t turn into one!” I laughed aloud several times, which is very unlike me for comedy-horror (actually most comedy).
As you can tell, there is plenty to recommend about The Velocipastor. The only thing that lets it down a little is the inconsistent level of grown-up language: it’s tame and accessible enough for me to show my adolescent son if only one particular character didn’t conduct the amount of swearing he does. That in itself isn’t an issue, but it’s only in a couple of scenes near the beginning, making it easy to wonder if Steere had briefly misjudged his intended audience.
But I do hope he makes more, whether in this style or not. In the meantime, I’m certain The Velocipastor is destined for cult status.
Alix has been writing for Ready Steady Cut since November 2017. They cover a wide variety, including genre festivals, and especially appreciates wit and representation on screen.