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  Doctor Mordrid Strangely Familiar
Year: 1992
Director: Albert Band, Charles Band
Stars: Jeffrey Combs, Yvette Nipar, Jay Acovone, Keith Coulouris, Ritch Brinkley, Brian Thompson, Pearl Shear, Murray Rubin, Jeff Austin, John Apicella, Julie Michaels, Mark Phelan, Ken Scott, Scott Roberts, Steven Marca
Genre: Horror, Fantasy, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Doctor Mordrid (Jeffrey Combs) is an interdimensional entity who has sworn to use his magical powers for the forces of good against evil, and now lives in a New York apartment building from where his vast library and collection of arcane artefacts assist him in his various quests. He consults with The Monitor which appears to him in the void of outer space as a large pair of bright blue eyes, and is told he cannot remain immortal for long, but Mordrid is well aware he must vanquish his old rival Kabal (Brian Thompson) who he has received word has raided an armoured truck just outside Rio de Janeiro - could his powerful wizard be drawing up plans to unleash his demonic allies on Planet Earth?

Yup, something like that, though he doesn't have much time to do it in for this was one of those quickies engineered by low budget exploitation auteur Charles Band, following in the footsteps of his father Albert Band who happened to be his co-director on this little item. With Empire Pictures behind them, they had set up Full Moon Entertainment to introduce cheap horror and science fiction into the market, much of which bypassed cinemas and went more or less straight to video in various territories which would have them. In this case, rumour had it that Doctor Mordrid was either a revamped original production, or something with more, shall we say, official backing.

Could it have been that Marvel had sanctioned the Bands to make a film version of their cult comic book Doctor Strange? If they did, and it was possible since they had recently sold the rights to Spider-Man to Cannon before it went under, then they backed out of that deal leaving the Bands with a script all set to go, therefore with a loose rewrite the completely different Doctor Mordrid was the result. It didn't make much of a splash at the time, but as is the case with a lot of such ephemera a small following was amassed around it, with many lamenting there was no sequel or even crossovers with other Full Moon characters, as appeared to be the intention. Did Marvel lean on them at all? Because for all its overstretched funds, this was something of a rip-off.

There had been a Doctor Strange movie before, though that was a television series pilot which did absolutely nothing, leaving it to take until around forty years later before Marvel set about bringing their character to the screen in a Benedict Cumberbatch-starring blockbuster with all the bells and whistles noticeably not available to this Mordrid effort. That's not to say it was bereft of special effects, as a number of little lights, big glows and a stop motion-tastic finale were involved among other effects, yet with the plotline seeing the Doc mixed up as much with the police as he was with the mystical arts, there was a definite feel of a television pilot to this as well. His love interest Samantha Hunt (Yvette Nipar) was even employed by the cops, and predictably he was arrested at one stage.

This did seem needlessly prosaic for such a character, fair enough ground Mordrid in some semblance of reality, but it was too often at the detriment of the more supernatural elements which you imagine was what most viewers had tuned in for in the first place. On the plus side, both Combs and Thompson were already old hands at pure pulp, and demonstrated skill with bringing to life even the lamest dialogue (mention of the Crystals of Endor leaves you expecting Ewoks to troop across the screen at any moment). Combs especially looked to be having a lot of fun - you have to assume he had encountered the Doctor Strange comic at some point in his formative years - and made you wish his performance had been set in a more ambitious, even lavish, enterprise. As it was, the usual Band lunacies intruded in a plot more obviously tailored for kids, but labouring under forced swearing and even a spot of nudity, not to mention gore at a couple of points, doing little to make this look anything but juvenile, which was fine, but redundant otherwise. Music by Richard Band.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Albert Band  (1924 - 2002)

American director, writer and producer of low budget movies who worked internationally. Early films like I Bury The Living and Face of Fire gave way to spaghetti westerns, science fiction and horrors like Zoltan, Hound of Dracula and Ghoulies II. His son, Charles Band, also went into the business with Albert's assistance - he set up Empire Pictures which helped to keep the video stores stocked in the eighties and nineties.

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