HI and welcome back! Last post, I put up the pre-movie chatter post. Today, let’s have the full review! I loved it. And amazingly, it actually turned out to be incredibly relevant to our interests. The VelociPastor is, simply put, the most amazing bad movie I’ve ever seen. It’s a labor of love with a serious story to tell, and it does so in the most ridiculous way imaginable. I’m absolutely bowled over by it and the effort that went into making a bad movie this good. And now, let me tell you why I think that.
(Disclaimer: I misspelled the name of the older priest. It’s Stewart, not Stuart. Sorry. I only caught it after writing this 4700-word review. I think I got them fixed. Also, if you’ve never been here for one of these reviews, then be advised: ahead, there be spoilers. And probably typos. I apologize in advance.)
VelociPastor: First Scene.
Before the movie starts, we get a little name card saying this movie was rated X by “an all-Christian jury.”
First, we see Doug, a young Catholic priest, morosely lecturing his tiny flock on suffering in the Book of Job. He tells them that everyone suffers, but the righteous suffer most.
It’s delightful, and Doug very clearly isn’t into it. But this isn’t bad-acting-style not into something; the actor conveys very well that the priest’s heart is no longer in what he’s doing.
Then he leaves his church, wearing his Halloween-costume priest outfit, and sees his parents standing by their car on the street. He brightens, waves, and calls out, “Mom and Dad!” They turn, see him, smile, and wave him over. As he’s going to them, though, we hear a big offscreen explosion and breaking glass. This is what flashes on the screen:
As the agonized priest screams “NOOOOO!” we get another shot of the VFX screen with the sounds, not the sights, of a car on fire.
I am absolutely in love with this movie ten times over already.
After losing his parents, I mean probably right afterward, the priest’s older peer consoles him. As the younger priest, Father Doug, sobs about losing his faith, the older priest (Father Stewart) keeps refilling his golden goblet (the one they use for Communion, probably) with the wine they drink for Communion.
Father Stewart gives him all the platitudes: everything happens for a reason, etc, and refills his wine. Eventually, Stewart tells him to travel somewhere where he can’t see “God.” “When you get there,” he tells his heartbroken young charge, “you’ll know he’s within you.”
It’s a potent lesson, and Doug of course takes it literally. But where oh where can he go?
Amid the title song and intro credits, which was quite cool-sounding, we see Doug driving somewhere with pine trees. This guy gives off very serious Matt Damon vibes and it’s glorious. As he drives, he gets more and more laid-back and less priestly. I know, man. Traveling cross-country in my Miata had the same effect on me.
Now in civilian clothes, he’s hiking somewhere. None of the forest around him looks vaguely Asian or tips us off in any way, but apparently we are in China now, everyone:
I love this. I’m betting none of this movie takes place in actual China. Like the VFX card for the car explosion, it’s a silly way to tip the audience off: yes, the director knows they’re not in China. Just pretend along with him, like classic Shakespearean actors work with rudimentary sets. Okay, Brendan Steere. I’m with you for this ride.
Doug exclaims, looking at his compass, “China IS east!”
Why yes, yes it is.
Message For You Sir.
A girl in white pants and top, like martial-artist clothes, runs through the forest. Another person barely nocks an arrow on a bamboo bow, lets fly, and it goes clean through her chest. She stumbles to her death right in front of Doug! But as she goes down, she holds up this ivory object.
It reminds me of that Monty Python thing, message for you sir.
From the Holy Grail movie. For a while this was my incoming-message sound on my Mac at work in Portland.
Doug, of course, asks this obviously-bleeding and dying Chinese girl if she’s hurt. There’s an arrow sticking out of her chest and she’s bleeding and gasping, dude, I wonder!
Speaking Chinese (I assume), she tells him to destroy the pointy tooth “or they will hunt you.” As she dies, she smiles and says in English, “Dragon warrior,” and dies.
Doug’s mystified by her words and instructions, but he’s got bigger problems. The girl’s murderer stands nearby, another arrow nocked and ready to fire.
As the priest retreats, the tooth bites deep into his hand for some reason. Like, it’s the long side of the tooth!
It has to be magic, because that tooth couldn’t cut butter in its state. He loses consciousness in a downright comical way.
And then he wakes up in the dark in a room, presumably his, as if all that was just a dream.
Indeed, he’s back in his room at the church. Stewart comes in as he’s recovering from his nightmare and asks, “The dream again?” Stewart asks him if he’s hungry, and Doug says he’s very hungry and looks dazed.
They talk briefly, then share a very awkward hug. After Stewart leaves, though, Doug realizes he’s losing his mind and needs air. He gets up and staggers outside in his wife-beater and pants.
And Now, We Meet Our Other Star.
As a beggar accosts him, asking for money that he, as a priest, doesn’t actually have, he knocks into a woman dressed in an outlandish outfit.
She reprimands him, but he’s long gone. Then she gives money to the beggar, who begins following her, eventually leaving her alone.
She goes to her pimp, someone she calls “Daddy-O,” asking him where she needs to work that night. Daddy-O looks like Mike Warnke in a woman’s fedora.
He smiles at her, says “Carol, hello!” and then slaps the tar out of her. As it happens, he doesn’t like being called Daddy-O. He wants to be called “Frankie Mermaid,” because he’s “swimming in bitches.” So he forces Carol to say this whole epithet. She says she’ll be working in the park that night. Frankie agrees, because “that’s where the money is.”
I know very little about sex work, but I seriously feel like I want to dispute that point.
The Park That Night.
So I guess we’re in the park now, and it’s nighttime, so Carol’s somewhere around here. So is Doug, who still hasn’t returned to his church home after his freakout on the streets. He’s having a very rough time of it. Also, this park looks oddly exactly like the forest in China.
Also, wow, he is decently well-built for a priest.
Meanwhile, some guy hassles Carol with a gun, trying to mug her. Suddenly out of nowhere, a monster attacks him! He gets to his feet and fires at the beast, but it apparently doesn’t care.
Carol falls back as the mugger’s head rolls past her. She’s beyond horrified, but the VelociPastor doesn’t attack her.
In Another World.
Then it’s morning, and Doug wakes up again, as if from that same awful nightmare he’s been having.
But he is not in Kansas anymore.
Carol enters the room in an orange nightgown, holding a cup of hot tea. She sits on the edge of the bed and tells him that the previous evening was amazing.
He, of course, thinks they had sex and he just can’t remember it. After trying to call her “my child,” prompting introductions, he tells her that “this can never happen again. She’s mystified. I’m loving this comedy of errors. She’s talking about watching him murder a mugger as the VelociPastor; he’s vapor-locking cuz he thinks they’re talking about having had sex.
“So it was just a one-time thing?” she asks, kind of amused.
“YES. Honestly, it never should have happened at all.”
She sighs. “Hmm. That’s for sure.”
Now suddenly self-conscious, he asks, “Oh. Was it bad?”
After a moment’s consideration, she says, “Well, it was… weird.” Then she says she was quite scared and possibly peed on herself. He asks if “it” was her first time too, and she says it was. I’m dying.
Eventually they realize that they’re not talking about the same thing. He asks what she’s talking about. She stares at him and says, “The time you turned into a dinosaur and ate someone.”
He leaps out of her bed, holding one of her pillows to his nethers. I’m sure that’ll want washing after he goes home, gal.
He tells Carol that dinosaurs never existed (a Creationist Catholic priest? Oh my). She offers to show him the body of the guy he ate.
In the Woods Again.
He borrows some clothes from her, which turns out to be pale yellow sneakers and a tight orange frock.
Carol is super-cute and I love her little yellow summer dress.
She kicks over some leaves and shows him the body she buried to avoid being arrested. This is where her night job of prostitution enters his awareness. He’s almost more outraged by that than by the fact that he turned into a VelociPastor and ate someone.
I love how she puts it, too, in answer to his question of “Are you a hooker?”
“Yes. Also pre-med law, but people aren’t as surprised as much by that one.”
Carol tries to sell Doug on the idea of using his new superpower for good, but he calls her a sinning Jezebel. She chases after him, telling him that he saved her life from someone who’d have done unthinkable things to her if Doug hadn’t come along.
In fact, she tells him (as he stumbles around the undergrowth), “This is the most priestly thing that you’ve ever done!”
Isn’t that how it seems to go, too, in Christianity-Land? Think about it.
But he runs away from her to “do confessions.”
Doug Meets Frankie Mermaid.
Now in his full priest robe, he dashes into the church to “do confessions.” His first client of the day turns out to be none other than Frankie Mermaid.
As Frankie lights up a joint and refuses to stop smoking, Doug asks him to confess. He confesses to stealing candy from a baby, then killing the baby “so it wouldn’t snitch,” to selling drugs, murdering people, and all that. When Doug asks who the last person was that Frankie killed, Frankie tells him he blew up this old couple’s car.
As Frankie goes on and on about the murder, glorying in it and adding lots of extraneous details, even describing Doug’s reaction to it, Doug’s eyes twitch and he begins to transform into… the VelociPastor.
It’s been at least 10 minutes since I mentioned the surprisingly-great acting in this movie, so let’s do that again.
After Doug transforms, he grabs Frankie by the throat with his VelociPastor claws and demands to know who ordered him to kill his parents. Frankie refuses to snitch, saying Doug might as well kill him now. Doug thunders, “OKAY!” Frankie reels back from the middle panel of the confessional with a deep cut to his throat. Doug watches him die with great satisfaction.
Afterward, he returns to Carol’s little apartment in his priest robe. He tells her they’ll need rules, procedures, and she agrees. Finally, he asks her, “I can still be a priest, right?”
She agrees again, then says, “I don’t know much about God.”
He almost smiles back at her. “I don’t know much about dinosaurs.”
When he tells her he killed Frankie Mermaid, she reacts very powerfully to that. He tries to excuse himself by claiming he acted purely out of passion. But she throws her arms around him and thanks him profusely. They then mutually declare they’ll only kill bad people.
Now, we get to see these two working together.
Doug smiles as he delivers an animated sermon from his pulpit. Being a VelociPastor agrees with him. Or maybe he’s just taking better care of himself.
In his off hours, he goofs around with Carol while wearing casual clothes. He’s relaxed, happy, and doing well. Also, we get a long montage of his gym workout.
Most Catholic churches don’t have much in the way of a gym room, and I doubt most monasteries do either. But the movie hints that it’s part of his church setup.
Then we get a montage of him dino-ing out and killing people. I like the T-shirt he’s wearing: “Who’s Who in the Bible.” That’s a real book!
And we get scenes in this montage of him giving Communion to a very seductively-dressed Carol after teaching her Bible stuff.
The scene ends with him oh-so-casually draping his arm around Carol’s shoulders as they sit together on a park bench.
In response, she smiles and leans into him. They’re so cute.
Cue the Bad Guys.
Amid “Ominous Eastern Music,” bad white guys in bad masks gather together in the forest. The main bad guy, an Asian dude, asks one of the white dudes why the money’s dried up. They’re drug importers and this “Dragon Warrior” has cut into their business. They’ll be taking care of him soon.
The two men laugh together, and the skinny white ginger guy has the nerdiest tryhard laugh I’ve ever heard and it’s amazing.
Father Stewart wanders the church grounds worriedly. He sees Doug talking animatedly with Carol, who’s wearing a skimpy red dress.
Later, Stewart visits Doug in his room. He tells Doug he’s worried about Doug’s state of mind. In response, Doug tells Stewart that he’s “different,” and Stewart takes this to mean gay and tells him lots of men in the Church are like that. But Doug says “No, I mean really different.” And the music gets really serious, labeled in Amazon as “Dramatic Music.”
Apparently, Doug tells him everything. And Stewart freaks out and starts talking about exorcisms.
Doug yells Bible verses at him and says maybe this is his mission from “God!” Stewart tells him, “That’s insane, Doug. God does not want people dead.”
Doug stares right back at him and says, “Oh, I think God wants a lot of people dead.”
Stewart locks him in his room. There, Doug reminisces about his parents and Carol waits for him outside the church, to no avail.
Meeting the Exorcist.
Doug and Stewart go somewhere “the Church forgot,” as the older priest puts it, because he just can’t wait for the Catholic bureaucracy to clear an exorcism. He needs to act now. So the men wander through a shop full of occult trinkets and weirdness.
As they argue about exactly what kind of evil is allowable in fighting evil, the back curtain unfurls open and out walks… VOLTAIRE, the indie musician and artist!
This guy looks positively wolfish, with slightly pointed ears, heavy guyliner, and Wolverine hair. As it happens, this used to be a priest as well: “Father Jones.” When Doug names him, he laughs and says “There are no fathers in here, kid.” This is now my favorite character in the movie.
Now this retired/defrocked priest goes by “Altair,” and he’s a “practicing exorcist,” according to Stewart. He speaks in absolute New Age gobbledygook, but listens to Doug attentively. While Doug talks, Stewart reminisces about knowing Altair during “the War,” which I think means Vietnam.
During the war, we learn in flashback, Stewart’s best friend, Ali, gets shot in front of him. Then, somehow, his girlfriend Adeline visits him at the front and gets blown up in front of him. Stewart joins the priesthood afterward. The montage ends artificially, like a movie projector running out of reel. Obviously. We’re not here to see Stewart! I laughed so hard here.
Altair wears a very deep-V black shirt with a purple-lined black cloak over it and a big silver cross necklace. He chants in a foreign language. As he chants, the men ask Doug if he’s feeling anything. At first, Doug doesn’t feel anything weird, but then he totally dinos out and runs out.
Stewart and Altair have no idea how to deal with this. Altair starts laughing uncontrollably.
Now human again, Doug stumbles around in the forest. There, the ninjas from the bad-guy camp find him.
Their leader speaks with that Kiwi accent! I love it! This must be the same guy who did the narration for the trailer! He tells them how they’ll be conducting their “atteck.” While he does this, one of the ninjas flashes back to his past.
As prepared as they are, the VelociPastor strikes again.
The reminiscing ninja dies dreaming of his lost beloved.
Doug rushes off to Carol’s apartment. She calms him down and they kiss. Then we get a montage of therapeutic sex. Hey, at least he’s in the hands of a professional.
These two really have wonderful chemistry.
The Ninjas Attack Again.
As Carol and Doug relax in bed together in the morning, ninjas roll into the room. The two use kung-fu to defeat them, then kiss.
But when Doug asks one of them who they work for, the guy hands him Stewart’s crucifix necklace. Doug realizes they’ve kidnapped his elder priest. (In voiceover, Doug later says one of the ninjas revealed the location of their hideout.)
Indeed, in the next scene Stewart wakes up in what appears to be a comfortable sleeping tent. The main bad guy greets him amiably and pours him tea. Stewart has a black eyepatch on, probably because Doug injured him while escaping the exorcism.
The villain suggests Doug will be by soon. As the two walk around his encampment, he introduces himself as Father Wei Chang, the headmaster of St. Artemisius. Interestingly, he only speaks in what I assume is Chinese, but literally everyone understands him perfectly and replies to him in English.
See, Chang’s group members see themselves as the real evil-fighters around here, and a VelociPastor that eats people sure seems evil to them! They’ve created a super-addictive version of cocaine in their fight.
Stewart asks, “What does drug smuggling have to do with Christianity!”
And the weird ginger kid with the double bandanas tells him “Everything!”
See, Chang tells him, once everyone’s hooked on his drugs, they’ll need help groups and treatment centers — and he’s got plans for a global chain of these!
Sure, why not? This plan isn’t any less nonsensical than anything we’ve seen out of the MCU movies. But Stewart isn’t on board.
Chang thrusts one of his magic arrows right through Stewart. As he dies, Chang sadly declares that he’s just another infidel who didn’t get it.
Somewhere in the Forest.
Doug and Carol suit up in leather and leave for the fight.
The ninjas meet Carol and Doug in a clearing. Doug’s somehow gotten ahold of nunchucks. Mr. Captain says he’s holding them totally wrong.
So naturally I asked how one actually does hold nunchucks.
“Look up Bruce Lee,” was about all he said. So I did:
About 20 seconds in, I stopped the video. “I just have to know,” I asked. “About how many times has that guy beaned himself right in the melon with those things?”
Mr. Captain looked over at the video. After a moment, he said sadly, “Most of them. Everyone does. We just don’t talk about it.”
A whole new world of ninja-ing has opened up in front of me and y’all, it’s kind of overwhelming.
A Sudden Revelation.
Back to the movie: I already noticed that at least one ninja is female, and obviously one’s a ginger, but in the overview before the big fight I see one of them looks black? This is a very multicultural bad guy group.
Then the ginger reveals himself to Doug. He’s Doug’s brother Sam!!!!
But in the flashback with the parents earlier, his dad told him he was his “only son!” Now, we see the flashback in a different way. Sam’s always there in the background, disaffected and excluded — and angry.
Sam tells him, “You’re not the only one who answered the call of God!” And he crosses himself.
Seriously, this movie has turned out to be incredibly relevant to our interests, hasn’t it?
The Climactic Scene.
The brother jumps at him, and the fight is on. Both Doug and Carol fight, though Doug mostly concentrates on his brother. Sam had thrust his sword into the ground, refusing to stain “the sword of my ancestors with your blood,” but seriously, it doesn’t look vaguely WASP-y much less historical, so I don’t see how any of his ancestors used it. But okay.
Early in the fight, Doug wills the sword into his hand like it’s a lightsaber!
I have no clue what it is. The sword might be legit. I just doubt it.
“Is this a mall ninja sword?” I asked Mr. Captain. “Please don’t ever call anything a ninja sword again,” he pleaded, sounding pained. “No, is this a mall ninja sword.” He looked over. “Hm. Yeah, that’s a mall ninja sword.”
Holding the sword aloft, Doug reminds Sam that they do, um, share the same ancestors. This actor needs more work. He’s excellent.
And he impales his brother with it. The brother gushes blood everywhere, even from parts of his body that weren’t hurt. And the blood all over Doug makes him stand up, smiling broadly, while Carol continues to fight ninjas. She advances on the black ninja.
Carol’s Dramatic Death.
However, the black ninja is like no way, I am outta here and points to the back tent with a scream. In response, a big tall guy comes out of the tent and advances on Carol. He slashes her with his katana and she drops like a plucked flower. Doug rushes over to her and takes her up in his arms. She’s clearly dying.
The ninjas watch the scene, holding each other tearfully as they watch. They’re so sad! I love this. They give the lovers space to have their final scene together. That is so sweet and considerate.
The ninjas are just in tears. Oh my god.
After one last kiss, Carol dies. Doug is just furious. He arises, glaring and covered in blood. The ninjas aren’t sure what to do here.
Then Doug brings out his inner VelociPastor. I just love this word, if you haven’t noticed. VelociPastor VelociPastor VelociPastor VelociPastor VelociPastor VelociPastor.
Finally! Daytime VelociPastor Action!
The VelociPastor rips right through the ninjas.
This is exactly the movie I needed right now.
This is nowhere near even Z-grade effects. The VelociPastor costume itself looks like it was made with papier-mâché and loads of camo-green spray paint. And that’s okay. The suggestion of it’s fine. It’s like Shakespearean stage dressing.
Either way, the VelociPastor wreaks HAVOC. The black guy doesn’t die first, by the way, but is second-to-last.
I wonder what Wei Chang will do?
More to the point, I wonder if Doug’s actor is the guy inside the VelociPastor suit or if they got a specialist to do it? It’s actually not easy to work inside a big costume like that.
And Now, the VelociPastor’s Boss Fight.
Chang shows up after all the ninjas are dead. He shoots Doug just above the knee with one of his homemade bamboo arrows. Doug de-dinos immediately.
Sam somehow isn’t dead. He apologizes to Chang, saying they tried. Then he finally dies. Chang blesses him.
Then, Chang tells Doug that his group’s been hunting evil lizard people for ages. They discovered some kind of “antivenom” that de-dinos rampaging dino people, and that’s why the arrow — coated in it — de-dino’d Doug so quickly.
Doug’s now the last of the evil lizard people. Now, Chang tells Doug this in English. In fact, he asks Doug, still in English, “Do you have any last words, VELOCIPASTOR?” Finally, someone said it out loud!
And Doug does indeed have last words. In fact, he replies, “I have six.”
What might those be?
“I think my hands are immune.”
I AM DEAD NOW, Y’ALL.
Cuz indeed, he still has VelociPastor hands! He uses them to strangle Chang. Chang laughs at first, but the VelociPastor tears his head clean off. (The plastic dummy head is very, very obviously not even close to resembling a real human’s, much less Chang’s.)
As the blood-covered VelociPastor screams in victory, holding the head aloft, some text on screen tells us:
“Only through the elimination of violence, will we finally be able to achieve world peace.” — Gandhi
Then he remembers Carol’s still on the ground and limps off.
In the Hospital.
Doug waits in the hospital in a waiting room that looks very similar to the walls/floor of the church set. He’s in the same white wife beater shirt and jeans he was fighting in earlier.
A young doctor enters the room with a smile. Carol’s not only survived, but she’ll make “a full recovery!”
The doctor picks through the ashtray for stubs, finds and lights one, and tells Doug he can go see her. This doctor shamelessly steals this entire scene, and I don’t mind. He is such a delightful sleazeball.
Carol’s hopped up on medications, probably, but she tells him she’s fine. Doug asks if she’s sure, and she tells him again, she’s fine. The on-screen words reiterate this point. I’m expecting her to tell him she’s pregnant, too. But she doesn’t.
Later, and still in the muted-blue-plaid dress she wore in the hospital, she and Doug head out for that same forest. She tells him that “the church won’t stop with Wei Chan’s death.” He agrees. They could be anywhere in the world.
Doug rocks himself a real James Dean vibe here, with rolled-up jeans, sneaks, shades, leather jacket, and that big green muscle car behind him. He tells Carol that now that he’s resigned from the church, he can now hunt these villains wherever they are. He puts a cig in his mouth, but Carol removes it.
She asks what he’ll do now, with a “billion-dollar bounty” on his head. He replies, “What I do best,” and kisses her. I guess he’s better at that than at being the VelociPastor? The end credits roll.
There, we learn that a half-dozen people with the same last name as the director were in this movie. Stewart and Adeline are probably played by Brendan Steere’s real parents. Zachary Steere was the guy in the VelociPastor suit (I KNEW IT).
Rating The VelociPastor.
How can I even rate a movie like VelociPastor? It’s in a league of its own.
- Story, Pacing, Plot: 8/10
- Acting: 8/10
- Chemistry Between Leads: 10/10
- Intentional Irony: 500/10
- Title cards: the ones we never knew we needed
- Voltaire: can add “delightful scene-stealer” to his list of talents
- Unexpected Connection With Our Interests Here at Roll to Disbelieve: wait what?
- Considerate Death-Dealing Christian Ninjas: Killed me dead
- Sleazy Doctor: You mean BEST doctor
FINAL SCORE: Umpty Billion/10. WATCH THIS.
NEXT UP: We need to finish Lee Strobel’s list, so we’ll do that. Then, some thoughts about the themes of VelociPastor. See you soon!
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