Sunday, September 18, 2016

Doctor Mordrid

Somehow dodging a mountain of injunctions from attorneys for Marvel Comics, Full Moon Entertainment created a film about a sorcerer superhero that couldn’t be a bigger ripoff of Doctor Strange if Stan Lee had written it.

Created by artist Steve Ditko independent of Lee for a 1962 issue of STRANGE TALES, Doctor (Stephen) Strange is a caped practitioner of the mystical arts who lives in a Manhattan brownstone and battles the forces of evil using magical spells. Laughably “based on an original idea by Charles Band,” as the main titles state, Doctor Mordrid (RE-ANIMATOR’s Jeffrey Combs) is a caped practitioner of the mystical arts who owns a Manhattan apartment building with bickering Jewish neighbors.

Another tenant is Samantha Hunt (Yvette Nipar, saddled with an unflattering wardrobe), the NYPD’s resident occult consultant (!), who suspects something weird about Mordrid, who has been protecting New York City from evil for over a century. The sorcerer’s nemesis is Kabul (COBRA villain Brian Thompson), whose goal is the illegal collection of elements, including the Philosopher’s Stone, which he plans to use to release his followers from Hell and take over the world. Like Strange, Mordrid has the ability to project his astral form to the Metropolitan Museum for the final showdown with Kabul.

As was often the case with Full Moon productions, DOCTOR MORDRID seems conflicted about its target audience. It’s too juvenile and cheaply produced to appeal to adults, yet its R-rated profanity and sexual content make it inaccessible to children who might enjoy the fantastic story. Combs is quite good and believable, anchoring the film’s inherent silliness, though the supporting actors seem to have been cast for their reasonable day rates instead of talent. Fans of old-fashioned stop-motion effects will dig the dinosaur battle created by David Allen (ROBOT JOX). Father/son team Albert and Charles Band are credited with direction, though only one was on the set at any given time. The direction doesn’t match the opulence demanded by the subject matter, nor does the mostly setbound production. Despite the promise implied by the final scene, DOCTOR MORDRID II never happened.

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