Cult Classics: The Velocipastor

velocipastor index
Pulling off a deliberately bad tongue in cheek movie can be incredibly difficult and a lot of the time results in something which is just painfully unamusing as many a SyFy / Asylum film has shown us over the years. But thankfully that’s not the case with The Velocipastor, a very smart, knowing b-movie that takes a ridiculous concept and throws in some ninjas, an exorcist, flashbacks to Vietnam and an unexpected twist that will make you grin from ear to ear.

It also contains lots of deliciously over the top acting (along with some occasionally subtle examples) and the kind of dialogue that you can see the cast relishes delivering in each and every scene, and it mainly works because the central performance from Greg Cohan as Father Doug is such a fantastic one. If it had been too bombastic or silly it wouldn’t have been effective, but it’s a believable, nuanced and very smart bit of acting from an actor who knows just how to deliver insane dialogue.

Not that the plot is really important with this kind of madness but the film sees Father Doug devastated by the deaths of his parents, and then head off to China in an attempt to reconnect with the lord. While there he (literally) bumps in to a dying ninja who gives him a mysterious stone which he cuts himself on, and soon enough it’s had the same effect as a werewolf bite, except that it’s a dinosaur he’s transforming in to. Upon returning to the States he teams up with Carol (Alyssa Kempinski), a reluctant prostitute, and decides to eat only those who are evil, but that gets complicated when a bunch of ninjas try to track him down.

What makes the film so good is that it knows exactly what it’s doing right from the beginning, and assures audiences of this within a couple of minutes when Doug’s parents are blown up but rather than showing us this, it repeatedly cuts to a shot of a wall and the words “VFX Car On Fire” on the screen inbetween shots of an anguished Father Doug screaming melodramatically. It’s telling the audience that yes, it’s going to be silly, but it’s also going to be a lot of tongue in cheek fun and it doesn’t fail when delivering such a promise.

It’s not exactly an Airplane style spoof but it does sometimes share that sense of humour, the villains love nothing more than to indulge in some over the top maniacal laughing, and when the good father bites off someone’s head while in dinosaur form it doesn’t attempt to hide the fact that we then see a mannequin’s head bounce on to the floor. There’s also a selection of great sight daft gags, like when Father Doug wakes up naked after his first transformation and asks Carol if she has something he can wear and in the next very scene he’s donning a very tight fitting orange dress.

It’s also very aware of how low a budget it has when it comes to the dinosaur costume but just doesn’t care, and so while the initial transformation is simply some cheap contact lenses and green lightning, when we eventually see the creature it’s gloriously awful yet strangely lovable, a cheap dinosaur costume that can’t have cost more than a couple of hundred quid and yet it fits the tone and atmosphere of the movie perfectly. On a similar note the blood and gore is mostly unrealistic too but it just doesn’t matter with a film as fun as this.

It’s a film which is packed with a superb amount of gloriously ridiculous dialogue and is immensely quotable, so I won’t be surprised if there’s soon midnight screenings where the audience are shouting out things like “Oh I think God wants a lot of people dead” and the following exchange – “What does drug smuggling have to do with Christianity?” / “Everything!”, while how can you not adore a film which includes lines like “We’ll pick you up after priest’s college” because sure, they could have looked up what such a thing was called (it’s a seminary, for the record) but it’s much more fun not to bother.

It’s inventively filmed, okay, occasionally the handheld camera work is sometimes a bit dodgy but that oddly adds to it’s charm, and it often makes use of lots of split (and more) screens, fun montages, and a couple of other tricks to create a movie you’ll never forget. At the beginning of the film I was going to make two lists of the good things and the bad things, but at the end nothing bad was listed at all, which is a rare event indeed. It was also a film which had been hyped up a great deal but for once it was a movie that lived up to expectations, and if you’re ever in the mood for a insanely silly movie than The Velocipastor will more than fit the bill.

Alex Finch.
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