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John’s Horror Corner: Doctor Mordrid, Master of the Unknown (1992)

October 18, 2013

MY CALL:  This is a slightly less campy take on Flash Gordon meets Dungeons and Dragons.  It’s bad, it’s funny (perhaps unintentionally) and it has Jeffrey Combs.  And that’s enough for me to want to see it.  MOVIES LIKE Doctor Mordrid Master of the Unknown:  Another odd but worthy Full Moon release is Dark Angel: The Ascent (1994).

Directors Albert Band (Ghoulies II, Robot Wars) and Charles Band (the Puppet Master, Subspecies, Ghoulies and Trancers franchises) have concocted a 74 minute wizard’s duel based on Marvel’s Dr. Strange in this Full Moon release.

“The Death’s Head will seek you out,” speaks some greater power from beyond to Doctor Mordrid (Jeffrey Combs; Re-Animator, The Beyond), who is charged with sending this evil force (The Death’s Head) back whence it came.  Mordrid has served as a guardian of the fourth dimension and has a mixed bag of magical powers including his ability to speak to the void (a pair of cosmic eyes named Monitor), stop time and wipe people’s memories (as if he had a Men in Black neuralizer), teleportation,  and other little prestidigitations like regenerating melted eyeballs.

It seems that the antagonist in charge of summoning The Death’s Head is the muscular, blonde-mulleted Kabal (Brian Thompson; Fright Night Part 2, Nightwish), who wishes to unleash demons on Earth and destroy mankind.  Wait…is Kabal the Death’s Head…or the demons he plans on releasing…or something else…or a symbol for Armageddon?  Kabal empowers his head-banging metal head flunky worshipper to do…what turns out to be basically nothing.  We’ll call that a major writing flaw, which is by no means a rarity in this movie.  But writing flaws abound in Full Moon releases, don’t they?  And we forgive them, don’t we?

From Highlander to Superman, every hero needs an attractive female co-star.  In this case, Mordrid gets some help from his attractive neighbor Samantha Hunt (Yvette Nipar; Phantoms), a law enforcement consultant on cults and Satanism who isn’t taken seriously by her police colleagues.  Despite her specialty, her knowledge doesn’t seem to contribute anything to our story–clearly just another obvious writing flaw resulting in her character just being inserted into the movie for the sake of having a love interest or something.

Sorcery finds weak, unimpressive representation in this otherwise silly, entertaining flick.  Mordrid visits a floating castle that imprisons some monsters, most of the props are little occult accoutrements or amulets with supernatural powers, and the finale includes a spell-flinging battle complete with lasers knives and crackling magical energy.

Okay, only some of you will get this joke. But this magic reminds me of 1st Edition Dungeons & Dragons’ Shocking Grasp…right!?!

The coolest part for me was the stop-motion animation when Kabal brings life to a natural history museum T-Rex skeleton, which is combated by Mordrid’s animated woolly mammoth skeleton.  Kabal almost releases an army of stop-motion demons on Earth.  But sadly, we see them for just a moment before Mordrid prevents their invasion.  Boo, Mordrid!  That would’ve been cool.  Perhaps if the budget permitted another 16 minutes of running time we could have enjoyed them a bit.

This movie may seem to have more flaws than favorable components, but please rest assured that these flaws make this movie fun.  Watch this on a lazy, rainy Sunday afternoon.

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