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‘The VelociPastor’ (Portland Film Festival, review)

Produced by Brandon Taylor, Brendan Steere,
Jesse Gouldsbury, Jessica Yue
Written and Directed by Brendan Steere
Starring Gregory James Cohan, Alyssa Kempinski,
Daniel E. Steere, Jiechang Yang, Aurelio Voltaire,
Jesse Turits, Fernando Pacheco de Castro


Really, the title says it all.

The VelociPastor was spawned from a student film movie trailer that went viral, and now had become a feature length film.

Doug is a priest whose parents were killed when their car mysteriously blows up. The loss causes Doug to doubt his faith. Urged by the his senior priest, Father Stewart, Doug goes on mission to China to find his faith. While in China, Doug becomes cursed.

The curse causes him to turn into a velociraptor á la a Hulk-style rage.

After returning to the U.S., Doug is convinced to use his powers to punish the wicked by Carol, a prostitute with higher life ambitions, whose life he saved while prowling the night for meat.

Together, they take on the city’s underbelly and disrupt the drug trade that is run by the Chinese mafia with a ninja army. (Yes, ninja’s are Japanese, but we aren’t going to go into that.)

This movie is hilarious; both intentionally and unintentionally. It looks like a high-end student film. The cast is a mix of up and coming actors and what I suspect is the family and friends of the director.

Newcomers Gregory James Cohan and Alyssa Kempinski get kudos just for delivering some of the groan worthy dialog with not only straight faces, but commitment. Writer/director/editor, Brendan Steere delivers a film that harkens back to the kind of low budget horror/comedies like the first Evil Dead movie or The Toxic Avenger.

Unfortunately, while The VelociPastor is ambitious, it lacks the kind of diamond in the rough style of Sam Raimi or Lloyd Kaufmann.

Is The VelociPastor a good movie? No, not at all. Would I recommend watching it? Yes; for two reasons.

First, it’s a great palate cleanser. As a modern audience we have high budget productions assaulting us from every direction. The formulaic flash of Hollywood can get monotonous, while the edginess of most indie films can be depressing.

It is refreshing to watch a filmmaker make a film for the pure love of it. The film looks like the director maxed out his credit cards and spent every day off from his day job piecing the film together on days off. It’s hokey, and made me physically laugh out loud in so many places because how it embraces what it is.

The second reason is Brendan Steere can only get better. Like everything else, experience and budget help greatly. Maybe he’s the next Sam Raimi and will win an Oscar someday. Maybe he’ll be a Uwe Boll and make unbelievable trash. Who knows, but it will be interesting to watch.

So, grab a pizza and some beer, and turn your brain off. Enjoy the ridiculousness that is The VelociPastor. And stay for the final battle scene, the dinosaur suit is totally worth it.


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