Sunday, January 17, 2016

Doctor Mordrid (1992)

Extradimensional sorcerer supreme Dr. Mordrid (Jeffrey Combs) is spending his time on Earth awaiting the earth-shaking attack of his arch enemy Kabal (Brian Thompson). I’m not sure that’s the best use of his time, seeing as he himself imprisoned Kabal in a magic space castle and knows very well where the guy is, so he might look out for him there, but what do I know.

Obviously, Kabal does break out of his decrepit space castle prison and starts spending his time stealing silver, diamonds and other elements useful for his plans to free a bunch of demons from said space castle prison and rule Earth with them, like the most overpowered petty criminal you’d care to imagine. Once he finds out, Mordrid probably would do something against Kabal, but before he can, he gets arrested for a sacrificial murder Kabal committed, on proof so non-existent the film doesn’t even bother to make anything up, but mostly because his love interest and neighbour Samantha Hunt (Yvette Nipar) – who works for the police as an advisor – sends her cop friends over to him to ask him for clues in the case. Nope, I have no idea, really.

Eventually, Samantha helps Mordrid break out and there’s a kinda-sorta show down in a museum. The End.

In the dark times of Marvel cinema licenses, the option for a Doctor Strange movie did actually land with Charles Band’s Empire for a time. Fortunately, that option expired before Band could actually make the film. Not to be discouraged by little things, Band re-tooled what already existed of pre-production materials into a project called “Dr. Mortalis”, which - with the end of Empire - then again got retooled into the Full Moon production we have here, which may or may not have started out as an all ages project that grew some breasts and mild ickiness.

Given that history, it’s no surprise the resulting film is a wee bit uneven. One would think, though, that all that reshuffling and rewriting might have convinced some of the people involved, let’s say Band who is co-credited as a director together with his father Albert, to include a plot that at least tries to hang together instead of delivering the series of scenes with little actual connection we get here. Now, I’m really not asking much of my movies, but I do prefer a film about battling extradimensional sorcerers to not take a twenty-five minute plus detour into a police station without any need apart from making the film longer. Bonus points would be available for a plot that would hang together a bit more, and a villain who’d be doing something mildly more interesting than stealing stuff.

As it stands, this is the most pedestrian use of its set-up imaginable, with a handful of pleasantly strange (sorry) scenes unable to keep one’s interest awake during all the boring tedious bits.
It’s too bad, too, for Doctor Mordrid does have some things going for it. First and foremost, Jeffrey Combs gives his character with an admirable lack of irony, so much so I’d be okay with having watched this thing just for the sake of seeing a man treat things with dignity and seriousness I wouldn’t have believed you could react to without hamming it up. I bet he’d even have been able to talk about the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth with an impression of absolute sincerity.

The production design has its moments too, particularly when it comes to Mordrid’s space sorcerer age bachelor pad and the space castle prison (the film doesn’t even bother to give that place a snappy name). There’s also a very mild tyrannosaurus versus mammoth skeleton fight in the finale, but there, the fun idea is – as is so much else in the film – buried under a half-hearted execution that spends more time in a police station than on a sorcerous duel.

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