John Carpenter's Ghosts Of Mars [DVD] 
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The year is 2176 and Mars has now been colonised by Earth, but the spirits of the old planet still continue to cause trouble. When a police team travels to a distant Martian mining outpost in search of the mass murder suspect Desolation Williams (Ice Cube), they find the place populated mostly by headless corpses. Williams is discovered locked in the town jail, and when the team is attacked by a mob of miners possessed by Martian spirits, it seems the jail might be the safest place for them all to be.
John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars attempts a productive combination of SF elements (a largely terraformed Mars with its long-lost civilisation) and horror (mass possession that turns the victims into rampaging, self-mutilating monsters that kill and burn). A police-force detachment turn up in a mining community to collect a bandit, whose last heist was uncharacteristically violent, and soon find themselves under siege from rampaging hordes who used to be solid citizens. This is a fairly simple set of variations on stock Carpenter elements--a hybrid between Assault on Precinct 13 and In the Mouth of Madness. However, there is some powerful chemistry between Nastasha Henstridge's icy, drug-abusing police lieutenant and Ice Cube's bandit, Desolation Williams, made stronger by the lack of sexual tension. Other characters, such as Pam Grier's tough commander and Clea Duvall's nervous rookie, are more or less defined by plot functions; the mobs never become more than faceless, or facially distorted, anonymous menaces. This is one for die-hard Carpenter fans only.
On the DVD: Ghosts of Mars on disc comes with Dolby Digital sound and its original widescreen ratio of 2.35:1. A sparky commentary by Carpenter and Henstridge is included, which is informative, but otherwise there are uninspiring documentaries on the musical score, the special effects and the difficulties of shooting at night in the Mexican desert, as well as filmographies and the theatrical trailer. --Roz Kaveney
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Top Customer Reviews
The framing structure of the enquiry held into why the train came back from Mars mining-town Shining Canyon with one injured survivor (Henstridge)cuffed to her bunk works well for me, with most of the action in flashback. The surrounding society is sketched in: the lieutenant's safety is guaranteed by the matriarchy, hetrosexual 'breeders' are disadvantaged in an implicitly largely homosexual society. Carpenter lays in background and context with a light touch: not enough to lecture, but enough to say you're not in Kansas anymore.
I understand that a lot of people don't like 'Ghosts', but I don't understand why. My hope is that it will be gradually re-evaluated and emerge as a minor gem. All I can say is, if you like Carpenter, sci-fi, or b-movies, give it a go. You might just be pleasantly surprised.
GHOSTS OF MARS lind of feels like an ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 on Mars, although it never reaches that level of suspense, it doesn't even come close. While it isn't a bad movie, it certainly is not one of Carpenter's best works, which means it still is better than most of what Hollywood produces nowadays and gets passed as a "Blockbuster".
The idea isn't bad, and Carpenter got the most out of a rather low budget and makes it work, but GHOSTS OF MARS does not deliver anything new. The story remains predictable - mostly because we see the ending right at the start of the movie, as it is told in a flashback.
The emphasis is clearly on horror and action, while suspense/thriller take a back seat. It's bloody with severed limbs, quite unusual for a 15 cert. at that time, but nothing really to write home about. (Note, it is rated 18 in Ireland).
The acting overall is good to passable, good performance by Natasha Henstridge, and Jason Statham in his 4th film, as well as Pam Grier and Clea Duvall. Former rapper Ice Cube also has a role - let's say he'd better stayed in the rap business and leave it at that...
Serious Carpenter fans (like me) will wanna give this a try or even own it (yes I'll buy it again if my disc ever is unplayable), but when compared to Carpenter's superior works (ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13, HALLOWEEN, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, etc.), this one falls rather short.
Audio: English DD 5.1, German DD 5.1
Subtitles: English, English HOH, German, Hindi & Turkish
Runtime: 94:07 mins.
Aspect Ratio: 2.Read more ›
I mean, there's 200 psychos on the rampage and you're not supposed to kill them! So what do our heroes do? They blow the consequences! That's John Carpenter!
It's not the best film he has ever made but to his credit he's constantly renewing the framework he builds his films around.
This film has been denegrated by many reviewers but have these people forgotten how cliched his films can be? Surely this is one of their main attractions: they don't pretend to be anything else!
It has many similarities to a legion of other films (eg. Assault on Precinct 13, Mad Max and Rio Bravo). Carpenter has never worried about these things- take 'The Thing' for example which is a remake of Howard Hawk's 'Thing from another World'.
Ultimately though it's not scary - it's 'safe' really despite the threat of extinction and there's not enough time in the film to build tension and suspense.
Natasha Henstridge is a revelation in the lead role - she's a good actress! Jason Statham is brilliant too as the Cockney Sergeant (although I've yet to see him as anything else but 'streetwise)
The fighting (and there's a lot of it) is stylised and well choreographed (especially Henstridge).
Once again Carpenter writes the music and this time it's courtesy of Anthrax- I now see them in a new light.......
And finally, the DVD extras good- giving you a real insight into how the film was made.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not one of my purchases, do not enjoy this type of entertainmentPublished 3 months ago by Reginald J. Skinner
Good film good price my hubby loved this as it was a birthday present glad I got it it came by the last day of the estimated delivery.Published 4 months ago by hotmamajoanna
Id agree with other reviews that despite not being vintage JC, this is more than watchable!
Serviceable FX, unusual characters and loads of action - not the greatest... Read more
Very entertaining futuristic space story with stylishly dressed heros and hilarious Zombiesque Martians. This is funny and camp with a great soundtrack. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Maddie