To preface my adoration of cult classic movies, I should explain that I love watching schlock horror films, exploitation movies, and anything that (however unintentional in its comedic value) is low-budget or underground. The appellation schlock receives for being “bad” movies is a misnomer. Schlock movies brought my friends and I closer together, bonding over our love and critiques of B-movies. Arguably the best part of watching so much schlock is that I often wake up in the middle of the night and completely forgot about some of the outrageous plots and scenes I had wheeze-laughed through years ago. It’s a delight, and better than the typical wholesome childhood memory.
Recently, I discovered a DVD copy of “The VelociPastor” at the library I work at. I had heard through the grapevine about the movie getting a theatrical release in Oregon, but didn’t yet get a full streaming/DVD release. Instantly excited, I checked out the movie (I’m amazed the library had four copies of this, but good on them), and returned to my shift.
“The VelociPastor” meticulously functions as a spiritual journey, comedy, drama, and action movie. In fact, the protagonist, Pastor Doug (Gregory James Cohan), and the woman with whom he ends up falling in love, a local sex worker (Alyssa Kempinski), have a fascinating emotional dynamic, and actually know how to act. If the title doesn’t give away the premise of Doug’s “spiritual” transformation, then the first ten minutes, in which he travels to China and becomes empowered with a prehistoric ability that was meant to be a secret, will.
Although Doug’s determination to keep his faith and anger is immediately challenged when he returns to the United States, he finds that, through the persuasion of a local sex worker (Kempinski), he can use his powers to turn into a voracious dinosaur for justice and truth. After a montage of the VelociPastor fighting various local evils, it comes to his attention that the ninjas (they also deal drugs?!) who vowed to keep the ancient dinosaur power hidden want Doug dead.
In a climatic setting of (probably) someone’s backyard, Doug and his lover (who becomes a worthy adversary herself) square off against the ninja kingpin and his cronies. The VelociPastor is seen in his full form (one of those generic T-Rex costumes you’d see at the Halloween superstore), and he defeats the ninjas. Doug and his lover end the movie seeking justice by travelling across the country together (in leather jackets!) fighting whatever evil they find.
As a piece of cult cinema, “The VelociPastor” has lasting entertainment value in terms of watching it over and over. However, the one problem dragging this movie down, as is the wont for most schlock movies, is the miniscule budget. “The VelociPastor” seemed to operate on an even smaller budget than most schlock movies, and I felt that if the costuming and practical effects were improved, then I would have found those aspects a bit less distracting. But perhaps that’s what gives “The VelociPastor” so much charm—it’s so self-aware, and acknowledges that even without a budget that permits a widespread theatrical release, you can still create a film which stands above the lifeless premises of most big Hollywood films.