Anton Mordrid is a wizard who lives in modern-day New York to protect humanity from evil. His sworn enemy Kabal has escaped from his inter-dimensional prison and now seeks to open the gates of hell. Mordrid starts to investigate thefts of valuable objects that Kabal needs to perform his rite. He gets help from his neighbor Samantha, who is a police consultant for occultism. Together they must face satanists, re-animated dinosaur skeletons, and a plot to frame Mordrid for murder, before Kabal can be defeated and banished to Hell forever.
Charles Band has become (in)famous for his endless stream of sequels and cross-overs of a handful of horror movies he made in the late 80s and early 90s. Before he went down that road, he directed a couple of actually highly entertaining genre flicks, among them Doctor Mordrid.
Apparently this movie was supposed to be based on the Doctor Strange comic book character, but then somehow it didn’t work out, and it became Doctor Mordrid. I’ve never seen or read anything from the Doctor Strange franchise, so I can’t comment on how close Doctor Mordrid is to it. It also matters not much, as the movie stands on its own very well.
The plot is fairly simple, cinematography and acting are also not standing out in a good or bad way either. The quality of the special effects would have been worthy of an Oscar if the movie had been made 15 years earlier, but they are executed fairly solid, so no complaints here. Clocking in at a crisp 70 minutes of run time, there are no unnecessary lengths or drawn out dialogues.
Overall, Charles Band managed to make Doctor Mordrid a memorable piece of entertainment, also because there’s a lot of quirky stuff going on. There’s the extra dimension that holds the prison to which Kabal was banished. It’s built on a floating rock, and the prison warden is a grumpy bearded guy with a machine gun that shoots laser beams. Then we have stop-motion animated dinosaur and mammoth skeletons that battle it out as surrogates for Mordrid and Kabal in their final confrontation. And there’s a whole bunch of other things like that that give the movie a certain fluffy charm, not least Mordrid’s ultimate wizard lounge that comes with a wall full of TV screens, a raven and a secret door.
Genre veteran Jeffrey Combs plays Doctor Mordrid fairly straight, without the crazy face he usually puts up in many of his movies. The crazy face role falls to Brian Thompson as Kabal, who doesn’t have to try hard for this, though. Blessed with a physiognomy that landed him almost exclusively bad guy roles in his career, he also excels in a selection of eccentric outfits for his character throughout the movie. Same goes for Mordrid, who showcases a very fashionable blue jumpsuit.
In the end, Doctor Mordrid is a well-crafted piece of entertainment considering the sub-par budget that was obviously available for its creation. A good pace, plenty of action, and a solid load of cheesiness is all a good B-movie needs, and Doctor Mordrid scores high in all of those categories.