The unknown adaptation of ‘Doctor Strange’ apocryphal

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The unknown adaptation of 'Doctor Strange' apocryphal

Before ‘Doctor Strange in the multiverse of madness’ (Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, 2022), andThe mystic had appearances in movies like the TV pilot (pretty good) ‘Dr Strange’ (1978) starring Peter Hooten and a rather less interesting 2007 animated version, plus the character was in talks as a possibility for a film adaptation during the 2000s.

It was Marvel Studios that worked the miracle with his ‘Doctor Strange’ (2016), adaptation directed by Scott Derrickson and starring Benedict Cumberbatch that made other versions forget, but, nevertheless, few remember that in the 90s ‘Doctor Mordrid‘ (1992), one of the best films to come out of Albert and Charles Band’s Full Moon Productions company, the sequel to Empire, with which they produced the horror film classic ‘Re-Animator’ (1985) and others Lovecraft adaptations.

Full Moon was behind a large number of low-budget genre films, usually aimed at the video market, but with certain cinematographic guarantees and more care than the Asylum now put on duty. There are rumors that Mordrid’s script originally started out as a movie based on Marvel’s sorcerer superhero and that the Band had held the film rights for years in which he was unable to get the project off the ground.

Kirby’s seed and not Ditko

Although the influence of comics in the film is unmistakable, and it is enough to change the names of the characters and put a mustache and red cape on the protagonist, the screenwriter C. Courtney Joyner clarified that Charles Band never had the rights nor was there a previous script. What Band was, however, was a huge fan of Comics, and had even hired the legendary cartoonist Jack Kirby, creator of Captain America, among others to develop the designs and concept art from various movies.

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One of these was for Dr. Mortalis, a sorcerer hero very similar to Strange, as early as 1986. From 3 or 4 illustrations, Joyner developed the text, trying to achieve Kirby’s sensations and with the notion of the Marvel sorcerer always, but proud of his character’s direct connection with the king of comics. Your Dr Anton (Jeffrey Combs) is a benign sorcerer from another realm who has spent the last century and a half waiting for his childhood friend and archenemy, Kabal (brian thompson), eventually returning to the land of the living to try to enslave and destroy Earth, which, of course, he tries to.

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Meanwhile, Mordrid and his trusty pet raven, named Edgar Allan -curious that Combs would later play the writer—, live in a huge building acting as a criminal psychologist, historian of the occult and chronicler of the dark arts. In his building lives Sam (Yvette Nipar), a consultant to the police department, and his department arrests Mordrid for his knowledge of a murder Kabal committed and he must use his wits and Sam’s help to get out and stop the evil plans of Kabal. Kabal in an anthological final confrontation.

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With the usual cheap budget of Full Moon products, the special effects and complex scenes appear only when the story needs them and its frugality of scenarios, actions and locations weighs down the rhythm of the set a bit with some situations that tend to repeat themselves. Jeffrey Combs, who rose to fame in ‘Re-Animator’ (1985), perhaps Band’s most famous production, offers one of his most elegant interpretations, offering a mixture of seriousness and playfulness content that maintain the film.

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But the most important thing is that the work maintains the esotericism of Marvel’s Dr Strange in every frame, from spells and potions to magical devices, portals and interdimensional doors with surprises like the idea of ​​a dungeon in another dimension that floats on an island of land in the air where there are a series of monsters waiting behind a door almost preceding the one of ‘Shang Chi’. There isn’t much gore that Empire is used to, but there are details, like the character of Gunner, a guard whose eyeballs have been destroyed by a magical fireball.

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‘Doctor Mordrid’ is entertaining, with some clever scenes with Combs at the police station, taking off his handcuffs and using a handkerchief to hypnotize, but you can tell that the final firework is his ace in the hole. The usual of the Band, David Allen, conceives a great stop-motion animation sequence with dinosaur skeletons fighting which is ahead of ‘Museum Night’ (2006), completing the moment with a small appearance of animated demons who asked for much more screen time.

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Within the pulp revival of comics in the early 90s, the film fills a space normally reserved for adventures and masked vigilantes a la ‘The Shadow’, making its colorful take on the genre one of the few examples of getting close to the Marvel spirit, he even has ideas of “astral projection” that ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ recovers, when both heroes ask their adventure partner to watch over his body as they resolve the final battle.

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