Director – John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing)
Starring – Natasha Henstridge (Species, South Park), Ice Cube (Anaconda, Friday), and Jason Statham (The Meg, Death Race)
Release Date – 2001
Rating – 3/5
Blu Release – 2.5/5
Tagline – “Terror is the same on any planet”
John Carpenter, much like George A. Romero, shaped my childhood. I became fan of his movies as a kid after watching Halloween like many other horror fans. After that I found myself working through his entire filmography. I liked a majority of his films but there was a few in there that I just didn’t care for. When I was in high school Carpenter released his sci-fi/horror film Ghosts of Mars starring Ice Cube.
I loved the tv spots for the film but a lot of my friends were not excited for it. When it was released I went that day and picked up the tape and watched it twice that night. I fucking loved it. Sometime back Mill Creek Entertainment released the film on blu and I remember how much I enjoyed it. I reached out to them and they were kind enough to send a copy my way. Thanks Mill Creek for letting me revisit this one!
**Spoiler Alert**The film follows a police escort on Mars that is going to a mining town to get the prisoner Demolition Jones (Ice Cube) to escort him back for trial but what they encounter is an abandoned down. The only people they find are the prisoners locked in the holding cells. When they start investigating the town they find a man barricaded in a truck who kills himself. They soon uncover that the whole town has went mad when an old chamber found in the mines was opened and a red mist escaped. It possesses the living and forces them to kill those that are not infected. The police unit and the criminals must band together to survive in order to make it out of that town alive.**Spoiler Alert**
I remember loving this one when it was first released but revisiting it almost 20 years later I can safely say it did not age well. It was still fun but there was a lot of things that 32 year old me found goofy that 15 year old me did not. It was still fun and one I would still recommend to genre fans.
The acting in this one is all over the place. Legendary blaxploitation actress Pam Grier is in the film for a short period of time and steals the show. She was very underutilized but it was great to see her. Ice Cube was great as well. I really liked how cliched his character was but it worked on the backdrop of this genre mash up. We also get an early performance from action superstar Jason Statham. He was a little clunky to watch in his role but it was cool to see him in this one before his career took off. With that being said, the films star was a little rough to watch. I guess some genre fans find Natasha Henstridge irresistible but she is not the best actress and her performance does drag a few of the scenes down. I would have loved to see someone else in this role.
The story for this one would be almost the exact same as the Doom film adaptation years later. We follow a colony on Mars awakening an ancient evil that possesses humans and uses the bodies to kill. With that being said, this movie has that Carpenter look that he honed with his films Escape fron New York and Escape from L.A. The movie works but expect some cheese with your horror and sci-fi.
Finally, there is plenty of blood in this one. We get a few gory moments but what would normally be a highlight of any horror film is ruined by the extremely dated CGI that is laughable now. Overall, Ghosts of Mars may not be the best Carpenter film but god damn is fun. The cast is decent for the most part and the story works. The blu looks good from Mill Creek but I would expect a fully restored release in the future from another company. This release will do until then.