John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars

John_Carpenter's_Ghosts_of_Mars_poster“Eutopia, the ass end of the universe.”

The Scoop: 2001 R, directed by John Carpenter and starring Natasha Henstridge, Ice Cube, and Jason Statham

Tagline: You Don’t Stand A Ghost Of A Chance

Summary Capsule: Cops team up with crooks to battle nasty evil on Mars

Justin’s Rating: That’s it! No more trips to the red planet for you, son!

Justin’s Review: Between Red Planet, Mission To Mars and this movie, our neighboring planet in the solar system has more life hopping around on it than a lice convention at a gradeschool classroom. Ghosts of Mars is one of those “you built a house on ancient Indian burial grounds” movies, where you just have to substitute the word “house” for “colony”, and the word “Indian burial grounds” for “Martian burial grounds”. Nothing ever good comes from these types of movies, because dead people are pretty pissed off. They figure, hey, they’re dead, they might as well make other people dead too.

The Bad Acting Baton is relayed between the two main characters in this film, one a cop played by Natasha “My tongue can go through the back of your skull” Henstridge, and the other a but-I’m-innocent murderer played by Ice “I was in Leprechaun 5, really” Cube. The cop and her easily disposable buddies (one of which is played by seventies blaxsploitation star Pam Grier) take a train to an outlying martian colony, where everyone’s kinda dead and there’s ghosts afoot. As with most women movie cops, our lead actress goes over the top trying to portray what a hard puppy she is. She stares unflinchingly at the bad guys and dares them to shoot her. She hits people for giving her lip. She never wavers from a growling monotonous tone in her voice, and sometimes does drugs. In short, she’s the most boring stereotypical good guy ever.

For a movie set on another planet, Ghosts of Mars is decidedly low-tech. They justify this by claiming that the planet is being terriformed, so we get a train, a bunch of metal shelters, and people waving around assault rifles taken from 1976. And they have a land rover. That’s about it.

A lot of the movie is spent with the remaining unpossessed characters radioing the train, trying to get it back to the colony. Of course, once the train comes and the good guys get on, cop girl decides they can’t run to safety. The evil presence (whatever that is) must be stopped here and now. By them. By the people who have been running for their lives. It’s this kind of horror movie stupidity that begs the question, what would we do in this situation? Well let me tell you my thoughts. I survive a slaughterhouse and an evil demonic force, my motto then becomes “Someone else can handle it”, and I book a one-way fare to Earth. It’s kinda pointless them all going back and fighting, because from the opening scene of the film you know that only the cop girl survives (yes, this entire movie is a FLASHBACK STORY). Do characters even watch the movies they’re in?

The evil force, represented by a dust cloud and a lot of hazy first-person POV shots, really doesn’t know how to work up the scares. I’m shocked, since this comes from John Carpenter, the guy who’s done The Thing and In The Mouth Of Madness. On the other hand, I shouldn’t be shocked, since this comes from John Carpenter, the guy who’s done Vampires and Escape from L.A.. Pretty much all that goes on is a bunch of decapitations, and the whole movie has a low-rent Event Horizon horror-in-space feel to it, just without the fear.

About the best scene and the best thing I can say about this movie is that at one point one of the good guys gets hopped up on some drug, then decides to open a can of food with his machete. He accomplishes this in style, only he loses his thumb in the process. It’s crass, it’s bloody, and it’s just a weensy bit humorous. Consider that the highlight, folks, and keep on moving.

Awwwww!

Awwwww!

Intermission!

  • The special effects supervisor is credited as Monkey Overlord

Groovy Quotes

James Williams: That’s the second time I’ve saved your life.
Melanie Ballard: Yeah, run a tab.

Melanie Ballard: Let’s put it this way… maybe I’ll sleep with you if you’re the last man on earth. But we’re not on earth.

Jericho Butler: Eutopia, the ass end of the universe.

If you liked this movie, try these:

  • Event Horizon
  • Red Planet
  • Blade Runner
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1 Comment

  1. As with most women movie cops, our lead actress goes over the top trying to portray what a hard puppy she is. She stares unflinchingly at the bad guys and dares them to shoot her. She hits people for giving her lip. She never wavers from a growling monotonous tone in her voice, and sometimes does drugs. In short, she’s the most boring stereotypical good guy ever.

    I feel your pain. One of the most annoying aspects of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files novels (even back when they were still good) was Karrin Murphy, who fits that archetype to a T. I wish more writers would recognize Ivanova of Babylon 5 and Zoe of Firefly as true models for doing strong female characters.

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