• Doctor Mordrid: Master Of The Unknown

    Released by: Full Moon Entertainment
    Released on: December 5th, 2016.
    Director: Charles Band, Albert Band
    Cast: Jeffrey Combs, Brian Thompson, Yvette Nipar
    Year: 1992
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    The Movie:

    Co-directed by Full Moon Entertainment head honcho Charles Band and his father Albert Band an very obviously influenced by Marvel Comics' Dr. Strange series, Doctor Mordrid: Master Of The Unknown begins with a scene in which an alchemist from another world named Kabal (Brian Thompson) steals from an armored car somewhere in South America. The crates are then taken away and any pesky humans who might tie this back to him disposed of.

    From there we meet Doctor Anton Mordrid (Jeffrey Combs), a man who lives in a fancy New York City apartment that houses a massive library of occult artifacts and books. He keeps to himself, preferring to spend time with his raven (named Edgar Allan!), but when his neighbor, Samantha (Yvette Nipar), feels heat emanating from his apartment she call the authorities. The cops and the fire department show up and are about to chop down his door when Mordid opens it up - there's no fire here, he has no idea why anyone would think such a thing. From here, Mordid and Sam hit it off. It turns out she's working with the NYPD as an occult specialist - hey, they have this in common - and he tells her that if she ever needs any help to let him know.

    Of course, Kabal shows up in New York shortly thereafter. He's summoned two followers, a couple of goofy goth punk types whose names don't really matter, to help him out. They've prepared the diamonds he needs to do whatever sort of alchemy it is that he's going to do and he gives the male accomplice the gift of invulnerability for a twelve hour span. He sends this guy off to cause trouble and then fondles the boobs of the goth girl for a few minutes before sacrificing her or something. Meanwhile, the cops lead by a detective named Tony (Jay Acovone), figure Mordid is responsible for some of the bad stuff that Kabal has been up to and they bring him in for it. Sam tries to convince Tony that, no, Mordid is a good guy, honest, but he's not having any of it. As it turns out, Mordid is from the same 'other world' that Kabal is from and not so surprisingly he has magical powers of his own. He's going to use them to save the day, but will he succeed?

    Except for the aforementioned boob fondling and a couple of curse words, Doctor Mordrid: Master Of The Unknown plays out like an old pulp-style serial, it has a retro charm to it that works in its favor and that actually makes the more exploitative content seem a bit out of place. It doesn't always make a whole lot of sense and there are plenty of plot holes if you think about things too much but it is a fun watch primarily because of the performances delivered by both Combs and Thompson. Combs is a lot of fun here, giving the role just enough enthusiasm to make it work without going too over the top, while Thompson chews through the scenery without ever breaking character. These guys are a kick to watch.

    The movie also features a fantastic stop motion sequence towards the end of the picture that would have made the whole thing worth sitting through even if it were a complete dud. While the California locations and stock footage inserts don't always convince us that the movie is taking place in New York City, most of the effects work on display throughout the film is colorful and cool in its own obviously low budget way. There's some definite creativity on display and that, combined with the fun leads, more than makes up for the derivative nature of the story. The ending sets up a sequel and you get the impression Full Moon was hoping to franchise this one the same way they did so many of their other properties, but that never happened.


    Doctor Mordrid arrives on Blu-ray from 88 Films framed at 1.78.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and it is, for the most part, a good transfer that seems to replicate the US release. There's a lot of really nice detail here and color reproduction is pretty much perfect. Black levels are strong and there are no problems with noise reduction, the film grain is left intact. There isn't any serious print damage, just a few tiny specks here and there, while skin tones look nice and natural. Close up shots look very good, texture is impressive and all in all the image quality is pretty strong. As to the framing? Well, it stands to reason, given that the movie went straight to video in the VHS era, that it was composed for a fullframe presentation (which is how the past DVD release was presented) and there are definitely scenes here where the 1.78.1 framing looks tight and chops off the tops of peoples' heads. It doesn't completely destroy the compositions or anything, but yeah, there are spots where the framing looks a bit tight. Otherwise, this is a good looking picture.

    The US release had audio options provided in English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, 88's disc has only a 2.0 track, but it's in LPCM format so at least it's lossless. It does sound better, stronger than the Full Moon disc. Dialogue is easy to understand and there are no problems with any hiss or distortion.

    The extras are similar to the US release, starting off with a new audio commentary with leading man Jeffrey Combs and producer/director Charles Band. Combs has a sense of humor about all of this from the start, having Band ask "what is my character the master of?" and answering with "I don't know!" in a playful dig at the 'Doctor Mordrid: Master Of The Unknown' title. From there, they talk about the other cast members involved in the project, shooting in L.A. as a stand in for New York City, the effects work that is used throughout the movie, the different characters that pop up in the film and quite a bit more. It's a fun track delivered with a decent sense of humor but which still manages to offer up quite a bit of interesting information about the picture.

    The disc also includes an original VideoZone making-of featurette that runs about ten minutes in length. This is a fun vintage spot made as a promotional item back when it was a new release but it's got some cool behind the scenes footage and some amusing interviews with Charles and Albert Band, Jeffrey Combs and Yvette Nipar as well as some neat bits that showcase the stop motion animation used in the dinosaur scene at the end of the movie.

    Moving right along, we find a twelve minute 'rare interview' in which William Shatner interviews Jeffrey Combs, Stuart Gordon and Barbara Crampton about some of their work together. It's not really Doctor Mordrid specific but it's interesting and frequently pretty amusing. Alongside that we get ninety-minutes of 'Uncut Footage' which is actually footage for the Videozone promo spot starting with a bit in which an attractive dark haired spokeswoman flubs her lines. Alongside this are more interview clips with the cast and crew and some behind the scenes footage shot on the set of Mordrid. Some of this stuff is pretty interesting, it's all presented in fullframe from a tape source with time code on the bottom.

    Rounding out the extras are a trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection. 88 Films also provides some reversible cover art for this release.

    The Final Word:

    Doctor Mordrid plays to plot cliches over and over again but it's still a pretty fun way to kill an hour and fifteen minutes. Combs and Thompson are fun to watch and the movie's awesome stop motion dinosaur finale remains a great scene. The framing on the Blu-ray looks tight but the quality of the picture is pretty good and the lossless audio gives this disc the edge over its US counterpart. Throw in a good selection of extras and this turns out to be a solid release. This is goofy stuff to be sure but it's plenty entertaining.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. C.D. Workman's Avatar
      C.D. Workman -
      I just watched the U.S. Blu of this night before last. I enjoyed it, but that stop-motion sequence between the skeletons was a special slice of awesome.
    1. Darcy Parker's Avatar
      Darcy Parker -
      The reason for the resemblance to Doctor Strange is because Doctor Mordrid actually began life as a Doctor Strange movie, but there were issues in the negotiations between Band and Marvel that basically led to the script having a few passes of Find+Replace run through it and the serial numbers filed off to make the script a Full Moon original.