Doctor Mordrid (1992)
WRITER: Screenplay by C. Courtney Joyner
DIRECTORS: Albert Band and Charles Band
STARRING: Jeffrey Combs as Doctor Anton Mordrid
Yvette Nipar as Samantha Hunt
Jay Acovone as Tony Gaudio
Keith Coulouris as Adrian
Ritch Brinkley as Gunner
Brian Thompson as Kabal
QUICK CUT: Can't wait for Doctor Strange this weekend? Then you should sit back and watch Doctor Mordrid in the meantime.
Doctor Anton Mordrid - Our hero, a good guy, a bit standoffish, but he has a weird charm about him all the same.
Kabal - His childhood friend and nemesis, a typical bad guy seeking to do bad things.
Sam Hunt - A police consultant who lives in the same building as Mordrid. She's smart, obviously, and a bit of a go getter. But she does suffer from love interest syndrome.
THE GUTS: Weren't we just here? OH right, I did a special review for funsies. Well, you didn't go very far, so before you escape, y'all're gonna sit down and watch Doctor Mordrid with me. Yeah, it's dipping into the Full Moon well almost immediately after Mandroid, but how can I pass up this Doctor Strange knock off just in time for the big screen release of Marvel's sorcerer supreme?
Which brings me around to the last two months or so of reviews...I've made a lot of comments about "Hmm, this sounds familiar..." or something to that effect. And every review has been something vaguely related to comics. It started to happen accidentally, as I started slotting in a few movies that I noticed were vaguely similar like that, all leading up to my plans to review this, Doctor NotStrange. So I thought it would be fun to go all in, or as all in as I could, and see if anyone noticed.
For the record; Jennifer kicked things off, and that was the weakest link. The story was SO similar to "Carrie" so I always keep associating it with Jean Grey/The Phoenix, but the actual movie is...very much not. Still, I ran with it. Grave of the Vampire was Blade's story, in every way except actual executional. Death Wheelers lined up well with Ghost Rider. Halloween 3 skipped the theme, for those keeping score. Psychic Killer...now THERE is the Jean Grey link I wanted. The Crow is flat out a comic book adaptation. And finally, today, Doctor Mordrid. Which is not only similar to Doctor Strange, but I discovered while working on this review, was going to actually BE a Doctor Strange movie, but of course they couldn't secure the rights, making those similarities far from accidental.
But enough of the fun stuff, it's movie mockin' time!
CAP: Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the manship Jeffrey Combs.
We get the oddity ball rolling with two floating eyes in space as Doctor Strange speaks with Aggomonitor about an upcoming threat, although they keep things vague, aside from naming it the Death's Head, yes?
Some stock footage established Rio de Janeiro, before we slide back to the California hills trying to fake it 'til they make it as Brazil. The driver of an armoured truck gets shot and killed by his partner, who then delivers the contents of the truck to the Alien Terminator from the X-Files but with terrible romance novel hair.
The Baywatch reject pours out a drink for his homies, and teleports the box to some other location we'll get around to later. Well, that's one way to save on shipping charges. That large, heavy metal box would've cost a fortune.
With his ill gotten goods gotten, Baron Mordo compels his accomplice to kill himself and tie up that loose end. And that finishes up this movie's brief attempt at production values and location shoots to make the scope seem larger than it actually is. We fly on back to what I believe is New York, and we meet Doctor Anton Mordrid now that he's not floating in space.
He hears a commotion outside with his wacky neighbours which is only there to be wacky, and introduce his love interest, police consultant Samantha Hunt.
Clea starts asking Strange some questions, but he uses the Eye of Agomotto to freeze her and duck back inside his Sanctum Sanctorum, which is more like Apartmento Sanctorum.
We get back to the actual plot as Strange hears about the theft down in Brazil. It catches his interest because it was a shipment of platinum, and that's important because of reasons that are only briefly acknowledged as alchemical.
Strange gives a presentation on how the moon may be connected to crimes, even though not in a magical way, just in the way it could influence people. Clea watches the display as part of her research, but then it's back to the Sanctum Knockofforum, for more thrilling news footage as Mordo has apparently made another theft while we were busy.
Doc decides to contact the Monitor again, and find out more about this Crisis on Full Moon Earth...wait wait, no, I'm mocking Marvel, not DC, my bad.
They don't really give us more information beyond saying again that the Death's Head has escaped. But we already knew that, yes?
Strange gets told he needs to 'cross over' and I guess it's time to recruit the Secret Defenders? No no, just open up his giant map and step through to Vanishing Point, where Death's Head was being watched over. Poorly, apparently.
Oh, opening this portal also causes his papers to blow everywhere, and books to burst into flames. And this would be why he doesn't visit home very often, I guess.
He poofs to the catacombs in the Dark Dimension and meets his friend Rintrah...Gunner, who was supposed to be watching over Mordo, but couldn't stop his escape. And in the process, he lost his eyes. Which Strange fixes before he heads back home, where days have passed in the minutes he's been gone. I don't really see WHY this trip was so necessary, but oh well. Rintrah is happy.
Next time I'm waiting for an episode of Walking Dead after a cliffhanger, I'm jumping to this place for a few hours to get there faster!
When he gets home, Strange finds Clea about to barge down his door, thinking he's burning up inside, but nope, just fine! He just was on a trip across the interdimensional planes, no big.
Oh, and she also figures out that the mysterious stranger, who's apartment is in a place of pride at the end of a hall of lesser apartments, with a door twice the size of theirs, is actually the owner of the building. Gasp, surprise. Slumlord Strange, Sorcerer Super.
Meanwhile, some rebel biker punk types are getting ready to call Mordo on over to pick up all the packages he keeps sending to their home. Didn't you guys watch Death Wheelers? This never ends well!
Baron Mordo executionals the girl for magic purposes I suppose, and when Kowalski shows crime scene photos to Clea, she recognises the brand on the dead girl's forehead from his ring. It's the same as the symbols on Strange's amulet.
So of course Strange is...is impaling himself with glowing glass daggers. It's apparently powering himself up to fight Mordo. It's terribly breezed past, though.
Before he can finish eating glass, Mordo shows up to have a chat. But he's not REALLY there, because we're only halfway through the movie.
We get the usual "our power wasn't meant for this" and "like hell it wasn't!!" moral discussion we've seen a dozen times before. But that gets cut short when the cops show up to arrest Strange because of the matching symbols.
Clea convinces Kowalski to let her talk to Strange, since she's sure he's innocent, and after much pleading, he goes for it. At the very least, he might talk to her and say something not involving blood rituals.
So Strange gives us his origin story, and it doesn't invovle a gifted surgeon ruining his hands, and seeking to be taught by a powerful sorcerer in the Himilayas and almost running into Iron Fist on the way.
Instead, he tells her about two young children from a faraway world, both outcasts of their society, but one good, and one who was more interested in using power for his own gain, and...wait. This just went from Doctor Strange to Doctor Who and the Master.
Oh, and the bad guy's plan is revealed; he plans to rip a hole through the fourth wall, er to the fourth dimension, so demons can come on down and use the Earth like a giant buffet. Well, as long as it's not the fifth dimension. Mxyzptlk is a pain in the ass.
Meanwhile, Mordo is preparing all that, and sprinkles skull bits over his minion, so he will be invulnerable and a better weapon against Strange. And he didn't even have to drive his bike into oncoming traffic! He immediately goes to cause a commotion so he gets arrested.
There's fire, there's gunplay, all for the sake of getting close to Strange so he can try and stop him, since his physical form is his one vulnerability. Pssst, that's normal.
Long story short, Clea uses the Eye of Agomotto to freeze people throughout the station, and break Strange out, because we all knew that was gonna happen.
He makes his escape, and they make their way to Central Park, or a reasonable facsimile. Once they get there, Strange decides to astral project so he can fight Mordo.
Yes, that's right, the final act of this movie will be fought effectively by a ghost, while the character has a nap in the park. What.
Mister Immortal escapes police custody as well, because he needs to still be a plot point. As Mordo gets ready to open up Chez Earth for Dormamu and the Mindless Ones, he destroys the thing that makes the guy immortal, because that was such an important thing that ultimately went nowhere.
He heads into the Cosmopolitan Museum, which I don't think is a real thing, and finds the philosopher's stone, years before Harry Potter did. There's a guard there ushering people out since it's closing time, and Mordo JUST STANDS THERE and is completely ignored. What.
Now, get this. Mordo casts his spell, and he shouts out to the demons he's trying to help, "Use your strentgh! Set yourselves free!!" AND THEY DO. Wh...what...why... Why didn't they do that 150 years ago?! That's like going up to your house, realising you forgot the keys, and not even trying the door for five hours until someone else comes home and they go, "Oh hey, the door's not even locked!!"
Doctor Strangeghost arrives to stand there and be ephemeral, and they talk some more, because the effects budget is about to be blown out of the water. Because Charles Band can't go one...single...movie without throwing some animatronic monster at you. This time out; animated dinosaur skeletons!
Strange may be a ghost, but he can still cast magic, and animates his own skeleton. Yes, the final battle is fought while the hero naps, his ghost stares at his enemy, and ultimately they fight via giant proxy dinosaurs. What.
Combs does a LOT of pointless staring and standing about as Things Happen around him. This is the most actionless packed ending ever.
So the good mastadon skeleton is directed by Mordrid, and his incredibly blunt tusks pierce through the wizard's guts and he disappears. I guess he's dead?
Meanwhile, back at Vanishing Point, the demons all go back into their hole, and the door covers it up once more. But...but... "Use your own strength to escape!" Why stop? WHAT.
But we're not quite done yet, as Strange wakes up, just as Mister Not So Immortal shows up to try and kill the good doctor. But he wakes up in time and freezes him in place, just in time for the Ancient One to say it's time for Strange to leave this world, because humans are becoming too aware of magic.
So, Strange goes poof back to wherever, and leaves his apartment to Clea, but he shows up on Christmas Eve so they can have hot cocoa together. Yes, at the very last second, this becomes a Christmas movie.
Video: Middle of the road, typical of a Full Moon release, you know the drill by now. Looks like, but could be so much better.
Sound Bite: "Anton Mordrid is a respected researcher of the black arts!" Just sounds so weird to me. Trust him, he knows black magic!
Body Count: Surprisingly small.
1 - 3:00 and a armoured truck driver gets shot.
2 - The other driver shoots himself
3 - Kabal melts Irene's brain.
4 - A museum security guard gets eaten by a magically animated T-Rex skeleton. ...I love that that is a sentence I have no written.
5 - Kabal gets pierced with a mastadon tusk.
Best Corpse: Poor museum guard!
Blood Type - D+: Very little, but I give many points for the skeleton fight.
Sex Appeal: Irene gets nekkid.
Drink Up! Every time Mordrid or Sam or someone freezes people.
Video Nasties: DINO FIGHT!
Movie Review: Y'know, there's nothing inherently wrong with the *story*. It's typical, it's basic. It needs a LOT of polishing, and better acting, and a budget, but the basic idea is there. And for Full Moon, it's pretty decent. But it is one of those cases where the idea outreached their grasp. More money thrown at this, better production values, and it could've gone somewhere. As it is, you know this is the low budget Doctor Strange. 14 year old Jason knew this. Two out of five glass daggers.
Entertainment Value: Unlike Mandroid, this has a lot of entertainment going for it. And being a complete story... Jeffrey Combs, even in an utter crapfest like this, STILL brings his talent. While this might not be his best performance, his skill and charm shines through, redeeming an otherwise bland movie. Brian Thompson also does a solid job. He chews scenery, but he should, he's the bad guy. If the pair got to do more, be on screen more, there could've been something there. The camp of Mordrid trying to deal with cops, and his neighbours brings the plot down, but is great fun all the same. This is Doctor Strange with a bit of sitcom vibe. It's FUN, but it struggles to be good. Missed opportunities sums it all up, really. Three out of five scrolls. Go watch Doctor Strange and see how it should be done.