Doctor Mordrid 1992
In many ways, the early days of Marvel movies are quite fascinating with all the goings on when they were selling rights to characters to anyone who would give them a chunk of change it would seem. And Doctor Strange happened to be one of those properties. But where other companies would fight the deadline to go into production before losing the rights and win, this film fought the deadline and lost. But instead of scrapping all the work and whatever pre-production they had done, if any, they decided to simply retool a few names and plot elements and continue on with the completely “original” story that became Doctor Mordrid. While I still don’t know all that much about Doctor Strange as a whole, Doctor Mordrid is a very close approximation, in that he’s essentially an arrogant magician fighting demons in modern times with his cape and amulet. As for the quality of the film, it doesn’t rise too much higher than the 70’s TV film which is literally my least favorite Marvel movie, but there is some fun to be had with the performances and all of the glorious 90’s mullets.
The movie seems to take forever to get started as plenty of time is spent setting up the apartment building where Mordrid lives (and also owns as we find out later). He has a couple nosy neighbors and an attractive woman who works as a researcher for the police department, which is a perfect match for Mordrid’s cover story as someone who studies and speaks on criminology and its connection to the supernatural. There also happens to be something supernatural going on where the evil sorcerer Kabal has escaped and is planning a ritual to release demons into Earth’s dimension. But to make matters a bit more complicated, Kabal is actually Mordrid’s brother, and they’re both hundreds of years old. There’s other complications involving alchemy, a sorcerer’s stone, mind control, and some sacrifices, but it basically boils down to a wizard fight.
Kabal himself is just an odd character. When we are introduced to him, he has a blonde mullet, 90’s sunglasses, and is wearing a loose fitting white tunic with a new-age style fang necklace. And he’s played by perennial generic villain Brian Thompson. He eventually gets a couple 90’s metal minions until he kills the woman in a ritualistic, naked sacrifice. Her, not him. But despite her death, the guy minion is still willing to follow him to the ends of the Earth, while still maintaining his 90’s metal fanatic attitude that almost feels more like surfer dude. There’s also a subplot where Mordrid gets jailed for the naked woman’s death because he has the same symbol on his amulet which is also the source of his magical powers. But, he’s still able to escape from his handcuffs and hypnotize a backstory to his neighbor in the interrogation room to convince her to get the amulet back for him.
The special effects overall are nothing to speak of. When Mordrid does his magic tricks, they’re all generally just basic animated light effects. The big climactic scene comes when Kabal is about to summon the demons and Mordrid’s astral projection has to stop him so the two animate museum skeletons to fight each other. Kabal’s tyrannosaur vs Mordrid’s mammoth in a sequence that’s a far cry from anything that Harryhousen had done. There’s also surprisingly little blood or gore aside from one moment when Mordrid goes to check on Kabal’s astral prison and finds that the guard has had his eyes melted from their sockets, and later there’s a couple bullet wounds and a few minor explosions. But generally everything is grounded in the discussions of the mystical rather than any real magic spells or combat. Which also means that the film comes off as incredibly dull. Even the potential for romance between Mordrid and his neighbor falls pretty flat with a weak ending where they discuss her taking care of his pet raven and watching a movie.
There are a few fun moments here and there throughout the film. Most of them come in random, laughably bad moments, especially considering that you can tell if someone is a villain or not based on their hairstyle. Even though there’s really only two villains in the film, they both have mullets, and during the establishing shot of the police station, there’s an incredibly awkward looking mullet on a random criminal being dragged across the screen. The other awkward early 90’s fashions also come into play, especially several of Combs’s outfits when he’s not wearing the blue cape. Combs himself also just doesn’t really have much of a personality as Mordrid. He could be considered to be calm, cool, and collected no matter what’s going on, but when that’s put on screen, it ultimately becomes just generically boring. So when it all boils down, this is a wannabe Doctor Strange movie with no real fighting, no romance, plenty of exposition, yet you’re never entirely sure what exactly is going on at any point in time. It’s just a complete mess and difficult to really recommend. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.