Friday, November 4, 2016

Doctor Mordrid (1992)

Woopidee doo!  You know that brand new Marvel Studios movie coming out today???  Yeah, Doctor Something or Another?!?  I'm going to talk about it today for B-Movie Enema!  What exciteme...

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.
So Doctor Mordrid starts out in space talking to a spooky pair of eyes he refers to as "The Monitor" which is either supposed to be an allegory to Marvel's Watcher or DC's Monitor - in which we have some Crisis on Infinite Earths shit about to go down!  Mordrid is told that this bad juju is coming and he's being entrusted to stop it from taking over the world.  We cut to Rio where Dog the Bounty Hunter gets some magical goop and pours it around this case that causes some sort of artifact to disappear.  He then makes the guy who delivered this item to him to kill himself.  I sincerely hope THIS isn't our bad guy...

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?

Whatever.  Mordrid tries to figure out if the death in Rio is coincidence or if it is the "first sign" something real bad is about to happen.  At the police station, Hot Pants McCurly Hair is working with the police on an occult related crime.  She then goes to a lecture from Dr. Mordrid himself about crime and supernatural causes.  When he returns home, he hears about another heist of sorts that ends with the criminal (who never showed any sign of previously being a bad guy) killing himself.  After the second incident from the news, he gets into his Doctor Strange cosplay and consults with the Monitor. The Monitor says he needs to "cross over" to which Mordrid says his abilities are limited.

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.
So his time in the extra-dimensional prison caused him to go missing from Earth for a week - which has some of the neighbors curious.  When Hot Pants McCurly Hair touches the door, it burns so she thinks his place is on fire.  She calls the fire department and just as they are about to ax his door open he comes out.  He invites her inside to look around noting she isn't nosy, just "interested".

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.
So, Dog the Bounty Hunter recruits two biker people, one of which is a hot chick who shows her tits because that's the first thing you think about when you think about a Doctor Strange movie...  Boobs.  It doesn't take long after she strips naked before he lays her on an altar and feels her all up before searing something into her forehead with his ring.  Maybe he killed her?  I don't know.  I do know that I'm fairly certain this Kabal guy doesn't know how to fuck a lady who just walks up to him all tits out and shit.

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.

Mordrid hypnotizes Samantha and tells her of his backstory.  So I guess he and Kabal are brothers and represent two equal sorcerers - one good and kind and generous, and one malevolent.  Kabal was beaten by his own hubris.  Mordrid then went to Earth to protect the mortal realm.  When she wakes up he begs her to get the amulet to help them escape.  She's not so sure until Mordrid is officially booked when another dead person is found with missing materials.  Elsewhere, Kabal makes his surviving biker dude follower invincible so he can be arrested and gain access to Mordrid so they can kill him and get him out of the way.  Realizing Kabal is getting closer to succeeding, Samantha gets the amulet and uses it to help Mordrid escape.

Mordrid enters the astral plane to try to track down Kabal.  He tasks Samantha with protecting his physical body so he can return to it.  At a museum, Kabal finds the Philosopher's Stone - which is just in a glass container at a museum with some dinosaur fossils - like it would be if it was real like dinosaurs.  Mordrid's astral form shows up to fight Kabal.  When he uses a spell to knock Kabal back, Kabal turns a dinosaur fossil into a stop motion terror and it's fucking glorious.  Mordrid fights back by bringing the mastodon skeleton to life.

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.

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