Director: Charles & Albert Band
Screenplay: C. Courtney Joyner
Starring: Jeffrey Combs, Yvette Nipar, Jay Acovoyne, Brian Thompson
Running Time: 75 Mins
Release Date: 17/02/14
Reviewed by Guy Adams
Charles Band, jolly ruler of the Full Moon empire, had bought an option to produce a movie based on the Marvel Comics character of Doctor Strange. Created by Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko in the early sixties, Strange was the ‘Sorcerer Supreme’ of the Marvel Comics universe, a neurosurgeon who turned to ‘the mystical arts’ after an accident destroyed his hands. Fighting demons and traipsing through psychedelic landscapes, his adventures were bizarre and complex tales that convinced most readers that there was a good deal of pharmaceutical drug use going on at the Marvel Bullpen (which there wasn’t, until Steve Gerber came along at which time all bets were off).
Strange has frequently been summoned as a live-action property, though only once did he actually appear (in a 1978 TV movie starring Peter Hooten). Other attempts (from a wide list of talent such as Wes Craven and Guillermo del Toro) stumbled at the pre-production stage though Marvel Studios have recently confirmed the character’s back in development.
In Band’s case, the option ran out before production of his film could begin. Never one to waste an idea, he simply had the script reworked so that Doctor Strange became Doctor Anton Mordrid (cult cinema’s favourite loon and cadaver-botherer, Jeffrey Coombs), a magical being masquerading as a human in order to protect the earth from the evil attentions of Kabal (extreme pectoral muscle-user and occasional Klingon, Brian Thompson).
Mordrid is the enigmatic landlord of a New York apartment block and, when not working as a criminal psychologist, he monitors the world’s news feeds in the cosy company of his pet raven, Edgar Allan. When Kabal once more rears his breeze-block of a head, Mordrid teams up with Samantha Hunt (Nipar) a freelance research consultant, to save the world.
DOCTOR MORDRID may have mystical powers at his fingertips, but sadly even they can’t quite win out agains a limited budget. Like many Full Moon movies that try and bring a taste of the epic to the screen, their limited bank balance can sometimes be too much of a hindrance. Where Band and his team could always be relied upon to offer good schlock value in their horror productions they sometimes struggled elsewhere. I’m all for punching above your weight but in doing so you have to accept the result may be sore knuckles and a righteous bruising.
In an attempt to divorce Mordrid from his copyright-protected inspiration the movie also falls between two stools. Occasional nudity and swearing on the part of Kabal’s acolytes feels out of place in what is, for the most part, a kid-friendly romp (with splendid, animated dinosaur skeletons!).
Coombs has applied the brakes on his usual, rather bravura, style of performance, a sensible move in context but one that leaves Mordrid feeling somewhat cold and charmless.
A passable romp but lacking a sense of magic, which is a shame in the circumstances.
The disc comes with the usual Videozone making-of feature (which, as always, shows that if enthusiasm could be monetised Band would never worry about budget again), a selection of trailers and reversible sleeve artwork.