Though primarily identified these days as a studio that makes campy horror comedies, there once was a time when Full Moon made all kind of movies. They all fell under the larger umbrella of "genre" films, but there were gothic romances (Meridian) and sci-fi westerns (Oblivion) and straight dramatic horror (Castle Freak, The Pit and the Pendulum) and whatever Arcade would be called. There's also Doctor Mordrid, a splashy supernatural superhero movie that would almost be great for young kids if it weren't for the few spots of R-rated nudity and bloodshed. I guess Full Moon gotta Full Moon.
Cannon make Spider-Man and Albert Pyun make Captain America). Rather than bail on the project altogether, Band had the script rewritten to focus on "original" characters and essentially just made his own Doctor Strange movie. The results are a lot of fun.
Besides being one of the most accessible and "respectable" films in the Full Moon catalogue -- again made during the Golden Age of Full Moon's distribution deal with Paramount, which allowed for slightly bigger budgets and better production value -- Doctor Mordrid bears the distinction of being the first film to be co-directed by Charles Band and his father Albert Band, the director of 1958's I Bury the Living! who would go on to produce and direct a number of movies for his son's companies, including Ghoulies II, Robot Wars and the first two Prehysteria! films (the first of which he once again co-directed with Charles). While there's very little about the movie that's discernibly different from a movie that Charles Band directed solo (they were never directing at the same time; Albert stepped in when Charles had to tend to one of the other dozen movies Full Moon had in production at the time), I like the idea of father and son teaming together to make a film that's close to their hearts and which celebrates decades of pulp through a character who is both ageless and timeless. Mordrid's apartment feels like a swinging '70s bachelor pad, there's a dash of '80s fantasy and some amazing stop-motion animation effects once again courtesy of the late, great Dave Allen right out of early '60s Harryhausen. Plus, with her big curly hair, pleated jeans and oversized denim shirt, Yvette Nipar is the walking '90s.
Speaking of the script, one of the movie's secret weapons is C. Courtney Joyner, a screenwriter (and eventually director) who worked for Band back in the Empire days and was associated with many of the best Full Moon projects: he wrote Prison (for Empire) and Puppet Master III, then wrote and directed Trancers III: Deth Lives and Lurking Fear, among others. Joyner is a great genre writer, infusing every one of his scripts with a strong sense of character, a sharp sense of humor and enough action and/or VFX set pieces the keep the movies feeling lively where it counts. He instills a playful intelligence in Doctor Mordrid, walking the fine line between taking the material seriously and recognizing that it's all a little silly.
Road House fame, plus the opening scene of Jason Goes to Hell), it's way more than a dose. Brian Thompson was the go-to bad guy for several years' worth of genre movies -- he just has one of those faces -- and while he doesn't make Kabal into a particularly interesting character, he's certainly intimidating. He looks and sounds the part. Plus, it's a lot of fun seeing him square off with Jeffrey Combs, who is in almost every way his physical opposite.
It's been just about a year since I first signed up for Full Moon Streaming and started writing this Full Moon Fever column. It's never been the most popular feature on the site, as very few people seem as passionate about revisiting/discovering these movies as I am. That's ok. I keep doing it because I believe in following my heart when it comes to writing about movies, and this is where my heart wants to go. What's the sense in running your own site if you can't champion the things you love? In the time that I've been writing this column, I've seen around 50 titles on FMS, from some pretty low lows to new favorites that I'll be revisiting for years to come. I hope those of you that have dug reading these pieces -- or at least given them a shot -- will stick with me as I continue. When a movie like Doctor Mordrid comes along, I'm not ready to give up yet.
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