This blog is devoted to all those pieces of 20th century culture too often pooh-pooh'ed by the so called 'high brow' crowd. The stuff that conjoures words like 'vibrant', 'garish' and 'lurid'. Cheap paperbacks, b-movies, exploitation, fantasy, horror and hokey sci-fi - all have a place on this blog where the trash of yesterday is recognised as the classics of today.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Movie Review - Dr. Strange (1978)

My goodness, superhero movies were a different breed back in the 70s. Here we have Marvel's Dr. Strange in a made for TV movie which was aired September 6th 1978 on CBS. Unlike most superhero movies these days, there isn't a single building demolished, car tossed through the air or suspension bridge torn up. In fact its all pretty low-key, gradually building up through character development and exposition to quite an abrupt ending.

I'm not familiar with the comic books, but after reading a bit about the character, I get the feeling that this movie doesn't stick too closely to its source material. Here, Morgan Le Fey (she of Arthurian legend, who originally appeared in the Marvel universe as a nemesis for Spider-Woman) is sent forward in time to the present day (well, 1978) to destroy the Sorcerer Supreme who is an old man called Mr. Lindmer (Merlin, presumably). Possessing a young woman called Clea Lake, Morgan has Lindmer tossed off a bridge into oncoming traffic.

Enter Dr. Stephen Strange, a playboy type who works on a psychiatric ward. Witnessing the apparent murder of the old man via a psychic dream, Strange is surprised to see Clea Lake admitted to his ward in a state of confusion. As he tries to uncover the mystery surrounding her, Mr. Lindmer (who survived his fall at a great cost to his powers) contacts Strange and tries to convince him to join forces against Morgan Le Fey.

Stephen Strange has the potential to become the next Sorcerer Supreme (and even has the inherited ring to prove it). As Lindmer attempts to explain the existence of magical forces, Strange realises that the battle between good and evil must be played out on a different plane of existence.

Low budget to be sure, Dr. Strange isn't all that bad. Originally devised as a pilot for a proposed TV series ala The Incredible Hulk, the film was unfortunately shown at the same time as a re-run of Roots. Such stiff competition meant that Dr. Strange received little attention and the movie (and any hopes for a TV series) drifted away into obscurity.

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