AKA Rexosaurus (Germany), Invasori dalla IV dimensione (Italy)
Starring Jeffrey Combs, Yvette Nipar, Brian Thompson, Jay Acovone, Keith Coulouris, Ritch Brinkley, Pearl Shear, Murray Rubin, Jeff Austin
Directed by Albert Band & Charles Band
Expectations: High. This one should be a load of fun.
On the general scale:
On the B-movie scale:
If anyone reads the teasers I put at the end of these series reviews, I have a redaction to make. Last week I claimed that I’d be reviewing Doctor Mordrid, “the closest the world has ever come to an actual Doctor Strange movie!” This is actually untrue, as it seems there was a real, sanctioned TV movie in 1978. Maybe at some point I’ll get around to tracking that one down, but for now you’re stuck with the Full Moon rip-off. What’s interesting about this film, though, is that Charles Band held the license to the Marvel character while in pre-production for the film. The license expired before actual production could begin, and the rights reverted back to Marvel, but Band being the ever resourceful filmmaker decided he could switch everything around and still crank out a fun intergalactic sorcery movie. He fulfills every promise except the fun, so while Doctor Mordrid is a total disappointment to me, it still manages to be marginally enjoyable due to a whole host of impressive practical FX work.
You might ask, “How did Full Moon ever get the license to produce a Marvel Comics film?” Well, this was 1992 and Marvel was still in the period of finding how best to bring their stable of characters to the cinema. While DC was making popular movies based on Superman and Batman, Marvel licensed out Captain America to notable low-budget filmmaker Albert Pyun who made a bunch of Full Moon movies, some films starring Ice T, and a more recent film titled Bulletface. Anyway, also around this time Roger Corman got the license for the Fantastic Four, and apparently Band got the Dr. Strange rights. For some reason, Marvel bet hard on low-budget, whimsical takes on their characters and boy, did that pay off! As I’m inclined to connect unrelated things that may have influenced one another, I’d love to believe that this period of Marvel’s cinematic history led them immediately to shelve any attempts at filming their characters until they could pull it off right. Enter Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, and the rest is history. But enough about Marvel’s misguided licensing practices of the early ’90s…
Now while most of the movie is talking that goes nowhere, bridged together by fun magic FX work, the final 15 minutes are awesome. When I saw Dave Allen’s name in the credits I knew stop-motion would make an appearance somewhere, and as soon as I noticed that the grand museum hall scene was actually a couple of fantastic models shot in forced perspective, I hoped that they would soon come to life. And they do. And it’s awesome. I’m biased because I’m an incredibly huge fan of stop-motion FX, but these dinos looked fantastic. And they fight each other! And one of them drives his tusk through a man’s torso! Say what you will about the languid pacing of this 74 minute film, the ending delivers a climactic duel that’s definitely got the magical goods.
In any case, it could be a lot worse. Doctor Mordrid is well made, and features a whole mess of great FX work. It’s just rather tiresome to sit through despite its just barely feature-length runtime. I’d cautiously recommend it if you’re a huge magic fan, or if you know enough about Dr. Strange to spot where they might have repurposed something from the failed production of the film when it was based on Marvel’s character. I honestly don’t know a lot about him other than he’s got a lot of cool books and he’s powerful as fuck… which pretty much sums up Doctor Mordrid too. It’s a hard one to gauge as I enjoyed elements of it a ton, while the rest was just pure tar, pulling me under with my every move to fight against it.
Next week on Full Moon Tuesday, I’m finally gonna get my head out of my ass and watch Head of the Family!