Doctor Mordrid (1992) — Jeffrey Combs plays a generic Doctor Strange

“What is this, night of the living wackos?”

Justin’s rating: Big jewelry makes a big man

Justin’s review: These days, I’m so burned out on modern superhero movies that I can’t even be bothered to watch the last 10 or so Marvel Cinematic Universe entries I haven’t yet seen. But the weird thing is that while I haven’t felt any inclination to loading up Doctor Strange for a first-time viewing, you tell me that there’s a 1992 adaptation of the character that was then morphed into a copyright-free version starring Jeffrey Combs and I’m am so there for it. I feel like a kid given a Christmas present three weeks early.

It’s ridiculous how giddy I am at digging into this one, seriously, especially considering that it’s another Full Moon production from legendary cult director Charles Band (Metalstorm, Trancers).

Doctor Mordrid (Combs) is your average mysterious sorcerer who guards the pathways to Earth, has a portal to a jail dimension in his living room, and has a habit of stabbing himself with crystals. He’s been hanging out in New York City for over 150 years, sometimes wearing a smoking jacket, waiting to see if his evil alchemist counterpart might show up. And wouldn’t you know, he does!

Kabal (played by X-Files’ Brian Thompson) starts scooting around the planet on a happy scavenger hunt to collect all sorts of materials needed to open up a portal to hell. Mordrid notices the unusual news reports related to Kabal’s messy acquisitions and prepares himself for the coming conflict. Both of them have their own lackeys — Kabal has a cult lunatic while Mordrid teams up with a police consultant — and no shortage of silly gestures and flashy spells.

Combs and Thompson, both veterans of Star Trek and numerous cult movies, are generally excellent here as long-sparring foes. Combs really sells the genial magician, and Thompson chews up the scenery like any classic comic book villain should. And while I was expecting a whole lot worse in the special effects and storytelling department, Doctor Mordrid ended up being a whole lot more competent and decently made than I expected. The good Doctor’s apartment is a particular delight to behold with all sorts of detail-rich set dressing and a raven bodyguard.

Unfortunately, Doctor Mordrid just doesn’t have the budget to go the distance. It’s a shockingly short movie at 71 minutes, doesn’t spend enough time getting into the facets of the magic or the titular character, and only features a single magical duel. Admittedly, it’s pretty cool — dino skeletons are brought to life in glorious stop motion — it’s far too little, far too late. It kind of all felt like a solid TV pilot for a mid-1990s Fox series rather than a grand cinematic adventure, if you get my drift.

But you know how it is with superhero magician movies: Now you see them, now you–

Didja notice?

  • All magicians have some random bird just sitting on an open perch in their library
  • When you show Christ the Redeemer statue, I really don’t think you need to specify with subtitles that this is Rio de Janeiro
  • SUPER MULLET
  • The philosopher’s stone? Harry Potter was looking for that
  • That is one terrifying facial mask
  • He’s got a Men in Black memory wiping amulet
  • VHS tapes. Ask your parents about them, kids.
  • That’s one giant wall world map — from Sharper Image?
  • Holding your cape out to the side gets better reception
  • Don’t we all have dimensional portals to D&D realms in our living room?
  • Having both of your eyeballs melted sounds rough
  • Catching an axe with one hand is metal
  • The Crystals of Endor!
  • Bad guys love freaking out old ladies
  • This is the worst police precinct ever
  • Blue glitter water
  • Stop motion dinosaur skeletons — it’s about time, movie!
  • Bullets don’t do a lot to dino skeletons
  • SKELETON BATTLE
  • That one lackey accounts for about 95% of this movie’s swearing

2 comments

  1. So did you have inside information that this would be announced later in the day as one of the movies to be featured in Season 13 of MST3K?

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