Marvel might be riding high now as a member of the Disney family, but twenty years ago it was literally taking any deal it could get from Tinseltown to make some money off the different properties they owned. Low-budget versions of “Captain America,” “Fantastic Four,” and “The Punisher” are perfect examples of where the comic book publishing giant was heading at the time. Even George Lucas’s bigger attempt at bringing “Howard the Duck” to life was a miserable failure.
With all the hype surrounding the upcoming release of Scott Derrickson’s “Doctor Strange,” it only made sense that Full Moon Features would take advantage of all the chatter and excitement by releasing its own version of the tale on Blu-ray. For those who might not know, Marvel gave rights to Full Moon Features in the early 1990s to adapt the mystical magician’s adventures into a live-action movie. When time ran out and the property went back to Marvel, Charles Band decided to move forward with his rendering altered enough to keep from crossing any lines of copyright infringement. It still stands as the best example of what was manufactured then.
Doctor Mordrid (Jeffrey Combs) is a powerful sorcerer who has sworn to keep Earth safe from the powers of darkness throughout the universe. His arch-enemy Kabal (Brian Thompson) arrives with plans to destroy the world. The two clash in an epic battle of good and evil that includes destructive mystical abilities and re-animated prehistoric creatures.
You can tell as soon as the opening credits roll on “Doctor Mordrid: Master of the Unknown” Directors / Producers Charles Band and his father Albert were quite passionate about bringing one of their favorite superheroes to life, even if he was under a new name with a re-tooled storyline and origin. Obviously, the movie was made on a budget that limited some of what could be done. It still looks great and the entire cast is fully invested in their individual roles.
The Blu-ray upgrade for “Doctor Mordrid: Master of the Unknown” provides a clean picture to enjoy all the practical effects and stop-motion work the Full Moon crew put into the production. It’s a true pleasure to see actual physical sets and props onscreen versus CGI landscapes and the likes. The 5.1 surround sound transports Richard Band’s musical score and all the blasts of magic to every corner of your home theater.
Special features for “Doctor Mordrid: Master of the Unknown” include audio commentary with Jeffrey Combs and Charles Band. An original Videozone featurette is found as well. William Shatner talks with Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, and Stuart Gordon for a rare round-table discussion. It also contains uncut behind-the-scenes footage from the Full Moon Vault.
“Doctor Mordrid: Master of the Unknown” is unrated but should hold an R for all intents and purposes. There’s only one scene of nudity, which was really unnecessary and could’ve been cut or edited to open the picture up to even younger viewers. There was some violence and language as well, but nothing that would’ve caused it to be rated anything more than PG-13.
1992’s “Doctor Mordrid: Master of the Unknown” still stands up well today even though elements of it might seem aged. It’s a reminder of where comic book properties stood in the grand scheme of Hollywood at that time. Fans of Full Moon, Marvel, and comic books will deem it necessary to grab a copy of this to complete their collections of rare home entertainment.
“Doctor Mordrid: Master of the Unknown” is available now on Blu-ray.