Wait. What the shit is this? Doctor Mordrid? I'm fairly certain that isn't the name of the new Marvel movie. I'm about 99.9% sure the character's name is Doctor STRANGE. I mean, he looks like Doctor Strange. He's got that tunic thing and that amulet business. He's doing magic lightning stuff with his hands. There is a trippy, weird shit thing going on with the universe in there. This is Doctor Strange, right? I mean that's Benedict Cumberbatch there playing this wizard dude, yeah? No. Wait, that says Jeffrey Combs. Huh.
For all seriousness, Charles Band, schlock auteur extraordinaire, possessed a film option to bring Marvel Comics' Doctor Strange to the big screen. With his Full Moon Features unable to produce a movie in time before the option ran out, Band, doing what all good schlock auteurs should do, just said, "fuck it" and made some small changes to the script to remove all the Marvel-ness from it. The result was this direct to video flick, Doctor Mordrid.
That's it, kids. That's the whole backstory to why this thing exists. But what is it about? IMDB tells us: "An unspeakable evil has come into our dimension and wants to rule over Earth, and only a mysterious sorcerer known as Doctor Mordrid can stop him."
Righy-o! Let's welcome Full Moon Features to the B-Movie Enema family and crack open this Doctor Strange ripoff!
Before I get started, I do have one thing to say. Sadly, I downloaded this movie from the YouTubes, and therefore didn't have that satisfaction that any kid from the 90s had of seeing all the previews for other Full Moon Features. There was always something in there that was off-the-wall from Puppet Master to Demonic Toys to some other movie that had some gross monster or hot chicks doing something sexy. We were just old enough to know that these movies were pretty crappy, but they were made with so much more money and higher production value than Troma and even had distribution from Paramount. So sadly, I didn't get to see the cool ass previews on the VHS tape that would have had Doctor Mordrid on it, but I can always look those up later.
As the movie starts, I will say that they really spent some good money on the score. It's hard to argue that we aren't about to watch a superhero movie with a little magical flair to it. As the credits play, the camera scans what must be Doctor Mordrid's, um, Sanctuary of Sanctimonious... Something? There's all sorts of old books and things that look mystical. I will say the most mystical thing in the whole place is this title card:
|erm... No. That is categorically not true.|
Only in the 90s would this guy be an amazing mystical powerhouse.
At Mordrid's home, he hears some of his neighbors fighting about this barking dog one of them has. They involve Mordrid's pretty neighbor who happens to be a police consultant who outsmarts them all. Mordrid and sexy cop lady banter and he's kinda got this creepy look on his face when talking to the girl. He then uses his amulet to disappear from her sight and make her kinda forget she was talking to him? Like in Men in Black? He then hears about the guy who killed himself after delivering some materials to Dog the Bounty Hunter.
Waitaminute... Doctor Mordrid just lives in an apartment building??? Just with some other people around?
Okay, I don't know exactly what's going on here. I guess in some ways this is a sorta, but not really, origin story for Doctor Mordrid? He's made mention that he lived in New York a hundred years ago. He's got an old timey picture with him and, presumably, his wife. But he is a limited sorcerer and not the Sorcerer Supreme we know Doctor Strange to be. He goes to a extra-dimensional prison where we learn a bad guy named "Kabal" escaped and burned out one of the guard's eyes. Mordrid replaces his eyes with some magic and says he's got a lot of power. What the fuck, movie? Is he powerful or not?
|Hot denim-sweater vest action.|
She's pretty wet for all his mystical stuff he has inside his apartment. He's pretty much into all the stuff she is. What's kinda funny about this movie is that this is like what happens when you give a movie a fuckload of downers. Neither Jeffrey Combs or Yvette Nipar (who plays our heroine, Samantha) speak with much pesto or pizzazz. They have a bunch of credits each, but neither seem comfortable at all in front the camera. They seem to be blocked to show that they like each other, but they are so unable to play off like actual romantic interests. She's acting like a first year drama student and he stares at her creepily. It almost feels like a sixth grader made his very own Doctor Strange movie with all the scenes filmed on one take.
|This is like Mello Yello. It looks like Mountain Dew, it tastes|
like Mountain Dew, but it ain't Mountain Dew.
Kabal shows up for tough talk with Mordrid about magic and being gods and shit. It's now that I realize that Kabal, played by Brian Thompson, is the crazy killer guy from the Sylvester Stallone classic Cobra! Now, I realize he's totally capable as a bad guy. He just needs to lose those shades he wore at the beginning of the movie.
Okay, back to the movie. The girl who showed her boobs to us all and got burned by Kabal's ring. The symbol on the ring that left the burn mark is the same from the amulet Mordrid wears. When Samantha says Mordrid would know something about it, the lead detective takes her up on all this and heads over the the Sanctum Whateverium. When they see the symbol, they arrest him and immediately treat him as a crazy murderous psychopath. The main dickhead cop lets Samantha talk to Mordrid and he tells her that he can be killed in his mortal form, which he's left with since they took away his amulet.
The movie goes completely off the rails at this point. Kabal is cackling in a beam of light as he's put all the ingredients together in the Philosopher's Stone, a T-Rex and mastodon are fighting, the guard at the extra-dimensional prison is fighting back demons with a freaking laser gun, shit's just hitting the fan all over the place. Mordrid eventually wins by having the mastodon stab Kabal with its tusks. Mordrid comes back just in time for him to stop the biker dude Kabal sent after him. Mordrid then gets called to the "other side" because he's revealed too much magic and shit to the Earth. Sam wants to go with him, but is denied. Mordrid disappears into thin air and the cops come to clean up the mess with the follower of Kabal.
At Mordrid's place on Christmas, Sam is talking to Mordrid's raven about how she wishes she wasn't spending Christmas with a bird. Mordrid comes back and asks Sam to help him whenever he's sent to Earth to save the day. There's a line in there concerning It's a Wonderful Life, but it doesn't really mean anything. Then the movie ends.
Doctor Mordrid is a curious little film. On its own, not overly terrible. There are a lot worse ways to spend 70 minutes (no shit, the movie is barely over an hour long). Jeffrey Combs is a brilliant and lovable B-movie actor and you can't help but like him even if he's not exactly right for this flick. I liked Yvette Nipar on the outside. She's kind of a classic 90s hot girl with the long curly hair and the Nicole Kidman features. She's not really good in this movie though. There definitely is a feel that this movie was rushed and completed very quickly. Almost every scene with two people are shot in shot/reverse shot style and it's awkward how often closeups are used for those conversations.
|Goddammit, Combs, you better not off her and not put me out of my misery too.|
You can't help but draw comparisons to Doctor Strange. If this was the name of the movie, it would have been considered a disaster on the level of the 1990 Captain America or the 1994 Fantastic Four. This is not an easy idea to adapt. Doctor Strange delves into a lot of trippy stuff as well as magic and if you don't ground yourself in some sort of world, all of this would come off as goofy. It's pretty goofy here in Doctor Mordrid, but at least it can dust itself off with the excuse that it's a Full Moon Features production. Give this movie twenty more minutes to help flesh out some stuff and help better connect everything and this would be so much better. It wouldn't be great, but much better.
Oh, and if you think this will be the last time I visit Full Moon Features, just wait for February when I have much bigger plans to cover more of this classic B-movie studio's works.