It takes a certain type of movie fan to appreciate a hilariously bad film. The shoddy directing, the plotlines that could have only been conceived through the consumption of hard drugs, the cringe-worthy acting that forces us to experience secondhand embarrassment, they all come together to make something so bad that it’s actually entertaining. It’s like watching a car wreck, you just can’t look away. My favorite example is The Leprechaun 4: In Space, which will make you reconsider the boundaries of human stupidity.
The 2019 film The VelociPastor seemed like an attempt to intentionally create a so-bad-that-it’s-good movie, but it missed the mark in a big way. I clicked over to Amazon Prime with the highest of expectations, expecting that I’d be rolling on the ground laughing and making mental notes of iconically bad lines. Instead, throughout 75 minutes of the film, I felt as if I were on the verge of a migraine, and I prayed to see the ending credits like one prays for their dentist to take off their little bib and tell them that their appointment is over. What I’m trying to say is that this movie was garbage, and not in a good way.
What made movies like Sharknado and Piranhaconda such successes in the word-mash-up B movie space was that they were fun. In The VelociPastor, we just get pseudo-profound monologues, plot diversions that make you forget completely what was going on, and a romantic narrative that made me want to find a secluded cave to crawl into forever. If anyone out there is thinking of getting to B movie directing, let The VelociPastor be a lesson to you: keep it simple.
The VelociPastor Background
Writer and director of The VelociPastor, Brendan Steere, graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York City in 2013. While in school, he released a trailer for a grindhouse film called The VelociPastor in 2011 which gained some notoriety on the internet.
While I had never seen the original 2011 trailer before starting my research for this article, I will say that I’m glad the cast from the trailer didn’t carry over into the actual film. The feature-length version of The VelociPastor was first screened at the B-Movie, Underground, and Trash (BUT) Film Festival on August 31, 2018, with an entirely new cast (which wasn’t a whole lot better than the cast of the trailer). Then, the film was released in the United States by Wild Eye Releasing on August 13, 2019.
After looking at Wild Eye Releasing’s catalog, it seems that they have a penchant for taking on ridiculous grindhouse films. Among the titles they’ve released are Hell’s Kitty, Badass Monster Killer, Tsunambee (about a tsunami of bees, presumably), The Disco Exorcist, Sharkenstein, Shark Exorcist, and Raiders of the Lost Shark. All of those have been added to my watch list. You can’t make this shit up.
The VelociPastor Synopsis
I applaud Brendan Steere for taking a crack at screenwriting; however, the plot of The VelociPastor is so nonsensical and has so many useless diversions that it’s often extremely difficult to follow. Nonetheless, this is basically what happened (I think):
Doug Jones (Greg Cohan) is a priest who witnesses his parents die in a car accident. In response to this horrific tragedy, he does what all grieving people do and goes to China. While in China, he runs into a dying girl who hands him the tooth of a velociraptor and tells him that it has something to do with a dragon warrior. Doug somehow gets the velociraptor tooth back to the United States (although I feel like TSA might have a major problem with that) and it begins to infect him with its magic.
Big surprise, Doug starts turning into a velociraptor. He is now half-velociraptor, half-pastor, he is a VelociPastor. Boom. Doug then gets all bloodthirsty and starts running around the woods at night and eating people. While on his man-eating escapades, he saves a hooker named Carol (Alyssa Kempinski) from a mugger in the park. Carol brings Doug back to her apartment where he wakes up naked and assumes that they had sex, which is a problem because, you know, he’s a pastor.
After discovering that he and Carol did not, in fact, make whoopee, Doug begins to reflect on his condition. He starts to feel bad about killing people, but Carol tries to convince him to use his power to kill bad people. Doug refuses at first and returns to the church to try to help people through the Sacrament of Confession.
Carol’s pimp, Frankie Mermaid (Fernando Pacheco De Castro), is the first person to come into Confession that day. Why is his name Frankie Mermaid? Because he’s “swimming in bitches,” of course. Frankie Mermaid admits to causing the death of Doug’s parents, which causes Doug to become enraged, turn into a velociraptor, and kill Frankie. After killing Carol’s pimp, Doug returns to Carol and asks her for her help in carrying out their plan to kill bad people.
Carol and Doug get all lovey-dovey for a while. There’s a montage consisting of a guy in a shitty velociraptor costume eating people mixed in with some scenes of Doug and Carol canoodling on a bench with ice cream cones. Father Stewart, Doug’s mentor at the church, discovers that Doug’s been hanging out with a hooker and turning into a dinosaur and eating people. He’s not thrilled about it, and he tries to convince Doug to stop by taking him to an exorcist. (Side note: Father Stewart is played by Daniel Steere, who I assume is the director’s father?). At this point, the film goes into an entirely-too-long flashback to Father Stewart’s time in the Vietnam War that has nothing to do with anything.
Back to the present time, the exorcism fails and Doug runs back to Carol, not before killing some random ninjas along the way, though. Father Stewart is then inexplicably kidnapped and wakes up in a camp of Christian ninjas led by Wei Chan (Jiechang Yang). Wei Chan explains to Father Stewart their plan to distribute extremely potent cocaine to the masses and then cut off the supply suddenly, therefore driving more people to turn to the church for help. I’d say there are quite a few practical issues with that plan.
Anyway, the ninjas’ plan doesn’t agree with Father Stewart’s moral compass, and so the ninjas kill him. Next thing you know, Doug and Carol are there killing ninjas side by side. Plot twist! One of the ninjas is Doug’s brother Sam (Jesse Turits). Another plot twist! Doug suddenly has telekinetic powers that allow him to steal his brother’s sword and kill him with it. Wei Chan then hits Doug with an arrow causing him to turn back into a human except for his hands, which are still velociraptor claws. Doug then kills Wei Chan.
Carol gets slashed with a sword in battle. All of the ninjas seem to be sad about Carol’s injury despite the fact that Carol had been trying to kill them just moments earlier. Carol gets brought to the hospital. Carol’s fine. The movie ends. The audience can all breathe a sigh of relief.
Why The VelociPastor Was so Unenjoyable
While a lot of bad movies are so over-the-top ridiculous that you can’t help but laugh at them, The VelociPastor felt as if it were still trying to make some existential statement amid all the bad acting, egregious screenwriting, and dizzying camerawork and editing. There was far too much focus on the love story of Doug and Carol and the fact that a pastor and a hooker could be in love. Far too much time was given to the backstory of Father Stewart and how he joined the clergy. I’m pretty sure the film even tried to touch on Machiavellianism with that stupid plan concocted by the Christian ninjas.
If you’re going to make a movie called The VelociPastor, all attempts to convey anything profound should be tossed out the window immediately. I don’t want to contemplate whether it’s moral to get people hooked on cocaine when the endgame is to bring them to God. I want to see a juiced-up dinosaur reading Bible verses and tearing people to shreds. I want to see flesh and bones flying everywhere while a velociraptor plays a crucifix-shaped electric guitar. Leave your moral convictions at home, Brendan Steere, and give me the trash that I wanted.