HELLARIOUS (2019)

In the case of Jason Tostevin's Hellarious — a telling title in this regard — it's an anthology compromised of horror films which feature primarily, a dark sense of humor.

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THE VELOCIPASTOR

Thou shalt have fun

After losing his parents, a priest travels to China, where he inherits a mysterious ability that allows him to turn into a dinosaur. Although he is horrified by the new power, a hooker convinces him to use it to fight crime.

After losing his parents, a priest travels to China, where he inherits a mysterious ability that allows him to turn into a dinosaur. Although he is horrified by the new power, a hooker convinces him to use it to fight crime.

Director: Brendan Steere

Screenplay: Brendan Steere

Cinematography: Jesse Gouldsbury

Producers: Brendan Steere, Brandon Taylor, Jesse Gouldsbury

1 Hour 15 Minutes


Review by Jeremiah

Nothing here should work. Nothing. Which makes the fact that is mostly does, even more mind bending than it otherwise would be. The Velocipastor is so low budget, and so aware of this fact, that it uses place holder text for what should be impressive (or given the budget here, unimpressive) visual fx sequences. A car explodes, and there's no fire. No lighting. Hell, no car. Just a reminder that all those things should be there (via placeholder text), and that you're an idiot for actually expecting them to be.

This is about as good as it gets, from a special effects perspective.

This is about as good as it gets, from a special effects perspective.

Very little in the film is played straight (thank god), but the few things that are, work simultaneously as a narrative counterbalance and tonal juxtaposition. Mainly, the relationship between the titular pastor Doug and his rescued hooker companion Carol. There's great chemistry between the two, which adds fuel to a budding romance and social justice proposition, so when they hook up for some fiery over-the-clothes dry humping, or take on a Chinese ninja clan (LOL) in the film's climax, you can't help but cheer them on.

"Only through the elimination of violence can we achieve world peace."

"Only through the elimination of violence can we achieve world peace."

Everything else is basically a gag on a gag always delivered rambunctiously, mostly landing, and usually referencing some other movie that Director Brendan Steere is likely a fan of — my favorite being the shameless wink-and-nod to 1987's sweatiest silliest Kung Fu film, Miami Connection. And just like that hilarious bit of B grade cinema, Velocipastor is concerned with having a good time first, making sense second. It's a priority that makes this an absolutely easy recommendation to anyone who's movie-watching priorities align the same.

Watch it for yourself, below:

Blu-ray notes - (Wild Eye Releasing)

Special features include:

  • COMMENTARY TRACK

  • GAG REEL

  • TEXAS FRIGHTMARE CAST AND CREW Q&A

  • NYC Q&A

  • CLOSED CAPTION

  • TRAILERA

Video quality is solid, rendering the low budget video about as good as one would expect; details are sharp during day scenes, with colors coming across somewhat subdued (rare exceptions in certain sequences). No macroblocking to speak of. There is also no odd judder or stutter issues as a result of the transition to physical media.

Audio is flat and uneven. Stereo separation is weak. While sometimes distorting at the loudest points in the presentation, dialogue remains clear enough when it counts. Likely a fault of the recording process than it is any mastering to the Blu-ray format. Again, this is a low budget affair.

Highlights of the disc are the special features, especially the insightful Q&A sessions with cast and crew. The genesis of the film in particular, was funny to discover while watching them.

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EL GIGANTE

They told me wrestling was fake…

EVIL HAS A NEW MASK!  After attempting to cross the US/Mexico border in search of a better life, Armando awakens in an unknown room, his body broken down and a Lucha Libre mask sewn into his neck.

EVIL HAS A NEW MASK!

After attempting to cross the US/Mexico border in search of a better life, Armando awakens in an unknown room, his body broken down and a Lucha Libre mask sewn into his neck.

Directors: Gigi Saul Guerrero, Luke Bramley

Screenplay: Shane McKenzie

Music composed by: Chase Horseman

Producer: Raynor Shima

14 Minutes

Where do I even begin? At the time of release I had heard very little of Gigi Saul Guerrero or the production company she co-founded, Luchagore Productions, before coming across "El Gigante" (and subsequently the novel it's based on "Muerte Con Carne"). I knew I was late to the party. After all, you can't have a crew this talented, producing work as polished and compelling as what's on their resume, and remain under the radar, right? Right. And since then, we've made it a point to never miss a single thing put out by the team, lest we risk once more being late to the bloody fiesta.

Anyway, as mentioned above, my introduction to Gigi's work comes by way of her short film, "El Gigante"; a horror story that takes place south of the border. The film opens with a desperate father (Armando) making his way towards the U.S. on foot in hopes of meeting up with the family he sent to cross ahead of him, with only the memories of their last moments together to keep him moving forward. Unfortunately, his trek through the unforgiving desert only serves to land him in a very disturbing situation. Not to give too much away, Armando will have to fight against much more than just harsh environmental conditions, rattle snakes and dehydration - as the hulking luchador appropriately named "El Gigante" stands between him and his freedom.

Family that slays together, stays together...

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Living up to the production company's namesake, 'El Gigante' is chock full of gore, blood, giblets - all of it wrapped within the grimey, stank-filled walls of the lucha libre arena. Not like much of anything we've seen before either (which considering what the horror genre encapsulates, is saying a lot), 'El Gigante' comes across as the bastard child born of a disgusting cross between Tobe Hooper's 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' and 'Lucha Underground'. Yet as violent and grotesque as it can get, there is a lot of beauty to be had in this 13 minute tale. Excellent use of colored lighting, intricately designed wardrobe and environments all come together to create an interesting juxtaposition that works well for the film (reminiscent of the work done in Gigi's other short, 'Dia de los Muertos'). Of course, bringing it all together are the believably psychotic pack of...well...you'll see, played jubilantly by their respective actors - most notable being Adelita Rockhill and Nisreen Slim as "Mama" and "Alma".

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Over far too quickly and ending JUST as it starts to hit a crescendo, 'El Gigante' has at the very least served to wet our appetites in anticipation of a possible feature film, adapting the rest of Shane McKenzie's novel. Hopefully, whatever other work Luchagore Productions puts out between then and now can tide us over, otherwise it'll be a long wait.

Check out the trailers below for both 'El Gigante' and the horror anthology 'Mexico Barbaro' which features Gigi Saul Guerrero's short 'Dia de los Muertos', and be sure to follow their work at the Luchagore Productions website and of course, on Twitter.

You can catch El Gigante on the Shudder video service:

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