IMDb > Ghosts of Mars (2001)
Ghosts of Mars
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Ghosts of Mars (2001) More at IMDbPro »

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Ghosts of Mars -- A story of human colonists on Mars who must be rescued after becoming possessed by vengeful Martian ghosts.


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Up 2% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Writers (WGA):
Larry Sulkis (written by) &
John Carpenter (written by)
View company contact information for Ghosts of Mars on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
24 August 2001 (USA) See more »
You Don't Stand A Ghost Of A Chance See more »
Years in the future, a Martian police unit is sent to pick up a highly dangerous criminal at a remote mining post. Upon arrival, the cops find that the post has become a charnel house. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
1 nomination See more »
User Reviews:
Assault on Planet 13 See more (451 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Natasha Henstridge ... Lieutenant Melanie Ballard

Ice Cube ... Desolation Williams

Jason Statham ... Sgt Jericho Butler

Clea DuVall ... Bashira Kincaid

Pam Grier ... Commander Helena Braddock

Joanna Cassidy ... Whitlock

Richard Cetrone ... Big Daddy Mars

Rosemary Forsyth ... Inquisitor

Liam Waite ... Michael Descanso
Duane Davis ... Uno

Lobo Sebastian ... Dos

Rodney A. Grant ... Tres

Peter Jason ... McSimms

Wanda De Jesus ... Akooshay

Doug McGrath ... Benchley
Rick Edelstein ... Zimmerman

Robert Carradine ... Rodale

Michael Krawic ... Man in the Rover
Eileen Weisinger ... Woman Warrior

Rex Linn ... Yared

Matt Nolan ... Miner

Marjean Holden ... Young Woman
Charlotte Cornwell ... Narrator (voice)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Richard Barela ... Miner (uncredited)

Danielle Burgio ... Local Lady Cop (uncredited)

Damon Caro ... Shape-Male Intern (uncredited)
Marty Cuny ... Miner / Warrior (uncredited)
Dave Duran ... Warrior (uncredited)
James W. Gruessing Jr. ... Miner (uncredited)

Albert Fry Jr. ... Miner / Warrior (uncredited)

Harry Jay Knowles ... Head on a Stake (uncredited)
Eric Martinez ... Miner (uncredited)
Louie Martinez ... Miner (uncredited)

Lena Milan ... Hand-Double (uncredited)

Christopher Allen Nelson ... Demon Miner (uncredited)
Chad Randall ... Big Warrior (uncredited)
Chance Romero ... Miner / Warrior (uncredited)

J. Nathan Simmons ... Miner (uncredited)
Anthony M. Trujillo ... Miner (uncredited)

Directed by
John Carpenter 
Writing credits
Larry Sulkis (written by) &
John Carpenter (written by)

Produced by
Sandy King .... producer
Original Music by
John Carpenter 
Cinematography by
Gary B. Kibbe 
Film Editing by
Paul C. Warschilka 
Casting by
Reuben Cannon 
Production Design by
William A. Elliott  (as William Elliott)
Art Direction by
William Hiney 
Mark W. Mansbridge  (as Mark Mansbridge)
Set Decoration by
Ronald R. Reiss 
Costume Design by
Robin Michel Bush 
Makeup Department
Enid Arias .... hair stylist
Howard Berger .... special makeup effects artist
Fred C. Blau Jr. .... makeup artist (as Fred Blau)
Judith A. Cory .... key hair stylist (as Judy Alexander-Cory)
Jake Garber .... special makeup effects artist
Jim Kail .... key makeup artist (as James R. Kail)
Robert Kurtzman .... special makeup effects artist
Greg Nicotero .... special makeup effects artist (as Gregory Nicotero)
Beverly Jo Pryor .... hair stylist: Ice Cube
Beverly Jo Pryor .... makeup artist: Ice Cube
Ken Wensevic .... makeup artist
Robert Hall .... special makeup effects artist (uncredited)
Margie Kaklamanos .... special makeup effects artist (uncredited)
Sandi Rowden .... special makeup effects artist (uncredited)
Production Management
Kim Kurumada .... unit production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
K.C. Colwell .... first assistant director
Chemen Ochoa .... second second assistant director (as Chemen A. Ochoa)
Darin Rivetti .... second assistant director
Art Department
Matt Alexander .... propmaker gang boss
Mike Blaze .... property master (as Michael Blaze)
Brom .... conceptual artist
Robert J. Carlyle .... construction coordinator (as Robert Carlyle)
Vincent Chavez .... stand-by painter
Stan Cockerell .... property assistant
Mick Cukurs .... set designer
John Eaves .... illustrator
Benjamin Edelberg .... model maker
Tyler Elliott .... on-set dresser
Bob Espinoza .... propmaker gang boss
Steve Fegley .... propmaker gang boss (as Steven E. Fegley)
William Forbert .... construction foreman
Guy Fuller .... construction foreman
Karen Higgins .... construction foreman
Jim Husbands .... set dresser: Los Angeles
Bruton Jones .... assistant art director
Wendell J. Joyce .... set dresser: Los Angeles
Lelan Keffer .... set dresser: New Mexico
Steven Kissick .... propmaker gang boss (as Steve Kissick)
Chris Kurumada .... property assistant
James Lewis Lager .... paint foreman (as Jimmy Lewis)
John Leimanis .... set designer
W. Scott Mason .... general foreman: New Mexico
William S. Maxwell III .... lead man
Keith McGee .... construction gang boss
Gabriella McKenna .... stand-by painter
Jose Mendoza .... labor foreman
Joseph Musso .... illustrator (as Joe Musso)
Kirk Newren .... construction foreman
James F. Orendorff .... general foreman: Los Angeles (as Jamie Orendorff)
Jesus Ornelas .... plasterer tender
Anthony Paronelli .... paint foreman
Enrico Paronelli .... lead paint foreman (as Enrico 'Rick' Paronelli)
Gary Petersen .... construction gang boss
Joe Pfaltzgraf .... set dresser: Los Angeles
Eugenio Quintero .... lead plasterer (as Eugenio 'Gino' Quintero)
Bill Ray .... assistant construction coordinator
Ernest M. Sanchez .... set dresser: New Mexico (as Ernest Sanchez)
Hugo Santiago .... set designer
Gary Stel .... labor foreman
Peter Tosti Stephenson .... carpenter
Benton E. Tedlie .... set dresser: Los Angeles (as Benton Tedlie)
Bruce West .... set designer
Larry Wise .... labor foreman
Ryan Cowles .... art department (uncredited)
Dan Crawley .... props (uncredited)
Robert House .... construction gangboss (uncredited)
Billy W. Ray .... assistant construction coordinator (uncredited)
Sound Department
Tiago Becker .... assistant sound engineer
Bill W. Benton .... sound re-recording mixer
Joseph Bishara .... sound designer: Pro Tools
Tracy Bolt .... sound recordist
Willie D. Burton .... sound mixer (as Willie Burton)
Bayard Carey .... cable person: New Mexico
Mike Chock .... sound effects editor
Theo Chou .... apprentice sound editor
Joe Dorn .... supervising adr editor
John Dunn .... supervising sound editor
Donald Flick .... sound effects editor
Jeffrey J. Haboush .... sound re-recording mixer
Robert W. Harris .... cable person: Los Angeles (as Robert Harris)
Donald Hauger .... foley mixer
Donald Hauger .... second assistant sound editor
Paul Holzborn .... foley artist
Marvin E. Lewis .... boom operator
Carey Milbradt .... foley artist
Carey Milbradt .... foley recordist
David E. Stone .... sound effects editor (as Dave Stone)
Charles B. Unger .... first assistant sound editor (as Charlie Unger)
David Bartlett .... sound designer (uncredited)
David Bartlett .... sound effects editor (uncredited)
Zeke Richardson .... foley recordist (uncredited)
Zeke Richardson .... temp re-recording mixer (uncredited)
Philip Rogers .... adr recordist (uncredited)
Special Effects by
Chad Atkinson .... art department: K.N.B. EFX Group Inc.
Kamar Bitar .... project manager: K.N.B. EFX Group Inc.
Brom .... special effects makeup design/illustration: K.N.B. EFX Group Inc.
Chris Cera .... art department: K.N.B. EFX Group Inc.
Jason Collins .... art department: K.N.B. EFX Group Inc.
Eric Coon .... miniature effects
Gino Crognale .... sculptor: K.N.B. EFX Group Inc.
Alex Diaz .... art department: K.N.B. EFX Group Inc.
Ante Dugandzic .... special effects technician
Jason Gustafson .... special effects foreman
Steve Hartman .... art department: K.N.B. EFX Group Inc.
Chiz Hasegawa .... project coordinator: K.N.B. EFX Group Inc.
Beth Hathaway .... fabrication/costuming: K.N.B. EFX Group Inc.
Joel Hobbie .... special effects technician
Dave Holoubek .... special effects technician
Garrett Immel .... on-set makeup: K.N.B. EFX Group Inc.
Steven D. Jensen .... special effects technician (as Steve Jensen)
Steve King .... special effects technician
Don Lanning .... sculptor: K.N.B. EFX Group Inc.
Preston Malott .... special effects technician
Bruce D. Mitchell .... fabrication/costuming: K.N.B. EFX Group Inc. (as Bruce Mitchell)
Greg Nelson .... on-set makeup: K.N.B. EFX Group Inc.
Jan Nelson .... special effects technician
David Perteet .... art department: K.N.B. EFX Group Inc.
James 'JR' Pollard .... special effects technician (as Pollard Jr., James R.)
Randy Pope .... special effects technician
Casey Pritchett .... assistant special effects coordinator
Corey Pritchett .... special effects foreman
Darrell Pritchett .... special effects coordinator
Brian Rae .... art department: K.N.B. EFX Group Inc.
Craig Reardon .... on-set makeup: K.N.B. EFX Group Inc.
James Reedy .... special effects train supervisor
Jill Rockow .... on-set makeup: K.N.B. EFX Group Inc.
Shannon Shea .... sculptor: K.N.B. EFX Group Inc.
Robyn Simms .... fabrication/costuming: K.N.B. EFX Group Inc.
Shaun Smith .... art department: K.N.B. EFX Group Inc.
Jeff Stampfer .... special effects technician
Mario Torres .... art department: K.N.B. EFX Group Inc.
Anthony Cook .... sculptor (uncredited)
Scott Hastings .... special effects technician (uncredited)
Ian O'Connor .... miniature pyro effects (uncredited)
Alan Tuskes .... special makeup effects crew (uncredited)
Keith O. Wilson .... special effects assistant (uncredited)
Visual Effects by
Gary Anderton .... first assistant camera: The Chandler Group
Tim Angulo .... visual effects director of photography: The Chandler Group
Don Baker .... visual effects supervisor: The Chandler Group
Scott Beverly .... mechanical crew chief: Hunter/Gratzner Industries Inc.
R. Christopher Biggs .... senior compositor: Amalgamated Pixels
Steven Blakey .... digital effects artist
Catherine Burns .... assistant painter: Hunter/Gratzner Industries Inc.
Matt Chapman .... concept artist
Seth Curlin .... model maker: Hunter/Gratzner Industries Inc.
Joshua Cushner .... motion control camera operator: The Chandler Group
Forest P. Fischer .... crew chief: Hunter/Gratzner Industries Inc.
Derry Frost .... head of production: Amalgamated Pixels
Shannon Blake Gans .... miniature effects: Hunter/Gratzner Industries Inc.
Scott Gordon .... digital effects supervisor: ShadowCaster
Matthew Gratzner .... miniature effects: Hunter/Gratzner Industries Inc.
Patrick Hinkle .... model maker: Hunter/Gratzner Industries Inc.
Bones Howe .... concept artist
Ian Hunter .... miniature effects: Hunter/Gratzner Industries Inc.
Ian Hunter .... visual effects storyboard artist
Ian Hunter .... visual effects supervisor: Hunter/Gratzner Industries Inc.
Leigh-Alexandra Jacob .... lead painter: Hunter/Gratzner Industries Inc.
Gary Kangrga .... key grip: The Chandler Group
Richard Kriegler .... digital matte artist
Ken Locsmandi .... senior animator: Amalgamated Pixels
Ren Messer .... visual effects production coordinator: The Chandler Group
Rob Meyers .... senior animator: Amalgamated Pixels
Bob Monaghan .... visual effects
Michelle Morgan .... model maker: Hunter/Gratzner Industries Inc.
Michael Morreale .... digital supervisor: Amalgamated Pixels (as Michael J. Morreale)
Jeffrey Morse .... visual effects coordinator
Jeremy Oddo .... senior animator: Amalgamated Pixels
Michael Pecchia .... compositor: Amalgamated Pixels
Gary Rhodaback .... model maker: Hunter/Gratzner Industries Inc.
Jacqueline Rosado .... digital effects coordinator
David Sanger .... visual effects production manager: The Chandler Group
Tom Shaughnessy .... first assistant camera: The Chandler Group
Michael Shea .... visual effects supervisor (as Mike Shea)
Robert Shepherd .... visual effects executive producer: The Chandler Group (as Bob Shepherd)
Dave Sherman .... visual effects stage manager: The Chandler Group
Carlos Torres .... visual effects chief lighting technician: The Chandler Group
Mike Uguccioni .... digital video technician: The Chandler Group
James Waterhouse .... model maker: Hunter/Gratzner Industries Inc.
Lance Wilhoite .... visual effects supervisor
Shyam V. Yadav .... monkey overlord
Jim Young .... concept artist
Enrico Altmann .... visual effects production assistant (uncredited)
Greg M. Boettcher .... visual effects (uncredited)
Jordan Byrne .... assistant visual effects coordinator: Amalgamated Pixels (uncredited)
Dennis Fitzsimmons .... visual effects (uncredited)
Bruce Gionet .... digital effects artist (uncredited)
Derek Ledbetter .... visual effects (uncredited)
Eric Pender .... effects animator: Shadow Caster (uncredited)
Tsuyoshi Abe .... stunts
Robin Lynn Bonaccorsi .... stunt double: Clea Duvall (as Robin Bonaccorsi)
Troy Brown .... stunts
Danielle Burgio .... stunts
Jennifer Caputo .... stunts
Damon Caro .... stunts
Paul Crawford .... stunts
Cheryl Wheeler Duncan .... stunts (as Cheryl Wheeler)
Jared S. Eddo .... stunts (as Jared Eddo)
Ousaun Elam .... stunts
Tom Elliott .... stunts
Donna Evans .... stunts (as Donna Evans Merlo)
Clay Donahue Fontenot .... stunts (as Clay Fontenot)
Anita Hart .... stunts
Dana Hee .... stunt double: Natasha Henstridge
Brian Imada .... stunts
Jeff Imada .... stunt coordinator
Steven Ito .... stunts (as Steve Ito)
Kevin L. Jackson .... stunts (as Kevin Jackson)
Chona Jason .... stunts
Henry Kingi Jr. .... stunts
Henry Kingi .... stunts
Hiro Koda .... stunts (as Hiro Coda)
Kim Robert Koscki .... stunts (as Kim Koscki)
David Leitch .... stunts
Al Leong .... stunts
Diana R. Lupo .... stunts (as Diana Lupo)
Steve Martinez .... stunts
Matt McBride .... stunts
Dustin Meier .... stunts
John Meier .... stunts
Mike Mukatis .... stunts
Chuck Norman .... stunts
Jimmy Ortega .... stunts
Patricia M. Peters .... stunts (as Tricia Peter)
Steve Picerni .... stunts
Ming Qiu .... stunts
Chad Randall .... stunts
Jalon Raney .... stunts
Tim Rigby .... stunts
Bridgett Riley .... stunts
Troy Robinson .... stunts
Erik Rondell .... stunts
Chad Stahelski .... stunts
Gary Toy .... stunts
Tim Trella .... stunts
Dain Turner .... stunts
David Wald .... stunts
Keith Woulard .... stunts
Marcus Young .... stunts
Cinda-Lin James .... stunts (uncredited)
Josh Kemble .... stunt performer (uncredited)
Hiro Koda .... utility stunts (uncredited)
Gloria O'Brien .... utility stunts (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Guy Norman Bee .... Steadicam operator (as Guy Bee)
Mindy Bee .... second assistant camera
Kenneth Bender .... second assistant camera
Brian Bibbe .... first assistant camera
Dustin Blauvelt .... camera operator
Tom Cantrell .... electrician (as Tommy Cantrell)
Rick Drapkin .... first assistant camera
Jerry Eubanks .... electrician
Craig Garfield .... grip
Lonnie S. Gatlin .... best boy electric (as Lonnie Gatlin)
Bob Gorelick .... Steadicam operator
Jan Gould .... best boy grip
Neil Jacobs .... still photographer
Brian Kibbie .... first assistant camera (as Brian Kibbe)
Bob E. Krattiger .... gaffer (as Robert Krattiger)
James E. Krattiger .... electrician (as James Krattiger)
Tim Marshall .... rigging gaffer
Brett Peters .... first assistant camera
Charlie Saldana III .... key grip
T. Daniel Scaringi .... key rigging grip (as T.D. Scaringi)
Kenny Schneider .... electrician (as Ken Schneider)
Gregory W. Smith .... Steadicam operator (as Greg Smith)
Steven H. Smith .... camera operator (as Steve Smith)
George Stephenson .... camera operator
Doug Wall .... grip
Charles W. Wayt .... dolly grip (as Chuck Wayt)
James D. Wickman .... dolly grip (as Jim Wickman)
Peter Yauri .... grip
Jeff Bettis .... grip (uncredited)
Brian Dzyak .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Hank Herrera .... grip (uncredited)
Glen Magers .... lighting technician (uncredited)
Jeff Neumann .... still photographer (uncredited)
Casting Department
Chris Bustard .... extras casting assistant: Los Angeles
Ayo Davis .... casting assistant
Terri Douglas .... adr voice casting
Teresa Neptune .... extras casting: New Mexico
Karen A. Harris .... extras casting assistant: New Mexico (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
James 'Mike' Balker .... costumer (as Michael Balker)
Birgitta Bjerke .... costumer
Robert Lewis Bush .... key costumer (as Robert L. Bush)
Alice Daniels .... costumer
Carol Demarti .... costumer
Erica Freeman .... costumer
Amanda Gore .... set costumer
Lorenzo Hearns Jr. .... set costumer
Juan Lopez .... assistant costume designer
Melissa Moody .... seamstress
Sara Pfeiffer .... costumer
Bill Traetta .... costumer
Keith M. Wegner .... costumer (as Keith Wegner)
Llandys Williams .... wardrobe supervisor
Dominick De Rasmo .... costume ager (uncredited)
Bridgitte Ferry .... costumer (uncredited)
Rosi Gabl .... costume illustrator (uncredited)
Editorial Department
Craig Brown .... apprentice editor: film
Kristin Eaton .... assistant editor: avid
Darrin Martin .... apprentice editor: film
Mato .... color timer
Sharon McGeeney .... negative cutter: Superior Film
Danny Rafic .... assistant editor: avid
Scott Shadden .... first assistant editor
Bronwyn Waddington .... assistant editor: avid (as Brownwyn Waddington)
Music Department
E. 'Bucket' Baker .... musician
Frank Bello .... musician: Anthrax
Charlie Benante .... musician: Anthrax
Buckethead .... composer: guitar score
John Bush .... musician: Anthrax
Cody Carpenter .... musician: synthesizer
John Carpenter .... musician
John Carpenter .... orchestrator
Paul Crook .... musician: Anthrax
Robin Finck .... musician: guitar
Scott Ian .... musician: Anthrax
Bruce Robb .... Musician: Hammond B3 organ
Bruce Robb .... music contractor
Bruce Robb .... music engineer
Bruce Robb .... music mixer
Bruce Robb .... music producer
John Van Houten .... orchestra manager
Bruce Robb .... music editing (uncredited)
Steve Vai .... musician: guitar (uncredited)
Transportation Department
Chris Basso .... driver
Scott Bourke .... driver
Shawn Coulter .... driver
Bo Ehrig .... transportation coordinator
Mike Helgeson .... driver
Jack Hess .... driver
Dennis Lally .... driver
Neil Marshall .... driver
Jeremy Morgan .... driver
Jim Murray .... driver
George Nadian .... driver
Domingo Nazara .... driver
Heriberto Osario .... driver
Steve Polon .... driver
Jerry Smith .... driver
Dana Schisler .... driver (uncredited)
Jay Wylie .... driver: Los Angeles (uncredited)
Other crew
Kerry Andrews .... post-production accountant
Angela Athayde .... production assistant
Michael Battaglia .... unit publicist
Kim Berner .... script supervisor
Eva Brickner .... physiotherapist
Robert D. Brugger .... medic: Los Angeles (as Robert Brugger)
Ken Clarke .... medic: Los Angeles
Walt Clayton .... production assistant (as Walter Clayton)
David Cummings .... production assistant
Eileen M. Dennis .... second assistant accountant
Rocco Diamond .... end credits: Nick Vasu Inc.
Terri Douglas .... adr loop group
Jennifer Dunne .... location manager: Los Angeles
Ava DuVernay .... publicity consultant
Laura J. Fox .... first assistant accountant
Dulcy Freeman .... assistant production coordinator
Jake Garber .... puppeteer
Gina Gilberto .... assistant: John Carpenter
Luis Gomez .... assistant chef: Mario's Catering
John Grower .... additional production equipment provider
Luke Khanlian .... puppeteer
Louis Kiss .... puppeteer
Caroline Kramer .... craft service
Stephanie Lovell .... production assistant
Kevin McGuire .... production assistant
Caitlin McKenna-Wilkinson .... adr loop group (as Caitlin McKenna)
Mateo Medina .... assistant chef: Mario's Catering
Cheryl Miller .... production coordinator (as Cheryl A. Miller)
Dan Mirvish .... electronic press kit
Shelly Monges .... production assistant
Joe Murphy .... production accountant (as Joseph J. Murphy)
Greg Nicotero .... puppeteer
Michael Papac .... weapons specialist
Scott Patton .... puppeteer
Roderick Peyketewa .... production assistant
Roberta Riordan .... production assistant
Joel Rivas .... assistant chef: Mario's Catering
Nigel Sampson .... physical trainer
Ernest M. Sanchez .... local gang boss
Teafilo 'Chito' Sanchez .... medic: New Mexico
Sean Sobczak .... assistant: Sandy King
Lisa W. Strout .... location manager: New Mexico
Jaime Trujillo .... chef: Mario's Catering
Gerald A. Vitatoe Jr. .... production secretary
David Wogh .... puppeteer
Mark D. Wray .... medic: New Mexico (as Mark Wray)
Paul Giorgi .... payroll accountant (uncredited)
Anne Lockhart .... adr loop group (uncredited)
Dave Mallow .... adr voice (uncredited)
Nathan Stein .... production assistant (uncredited)
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsSpecial EffectsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars" - USA (complete title)
See more »
Rated R for strong violence/gore, language and some drug content
98 min
Color (FotoKem)
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Much of the location shooting was done on a gypsum mine near Albuquerque, New Mexico. The gypsum, which is almost pure white, was sprayed with a biodegradable red food dye to give the appearance of a Martian landscape.See more »
Revealing mistakes: When Ballard breaks free from Williams' grip, the knife at her throat can clearly be seen to bend with her neck rather than slice a gaping wound in it.See more »
Jericho Butler:It's pretty solid. One way in, back door out, leading to rear entrance.
[shuts door]
Jericho Butler:A good, sturdy door.
Melanie Ballard:So, what's your point?
Jericho Butler:It's rather cozy. Don't you think?
Melanie Ballard:I don't believe this. You lured me back here to seduce me?
Jericho Butler:Yeah, well, the way things are going, I thought this might be our last chance to, uh, to dance.
Melanie Ballard:Yeah.
See more »
Movie Connections:
References The Thing (1982)See more »


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32 out of 58 people found the following review useful.
Assault on Planet 13, 27 August 2001
Author: pc_dean from Arlington, VA

Mars has fascinated humans for years. It's the closest planet to us, and the only one that comes close in terms of livability. Its forbidding landscape and dire red color scheme are magnetic (at least in movies; I can't tell you how disappointed I was when that little NASA toy-car thing sent back pictures and Mars looks like Utah. No red sky, even.)

But Mars has a curse. You just can't make a decent movie about it. Think about all the Mars movies in history (...Attacks!, Mission to..., Red Planet, Angry and otherwise, Santa Claus vs. the Martians, etc.), none of which have been able to rise above the "not bad, not great" category, if even that. The lone exception to the Mars Curse is "Total Recall", which is a fine film, but it can be persuasively argued that it never actually takes place on Mars at all.

Throw "John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars" on the "not bad" pile. Many have argued that it's not really a Mars movie, but a Western with a weird setting, which is indirectly true. It's mostly a re-working of Carpenter's classic "Assault on Precinct 13", which was, itself, based on "Rio Bravo". (I wonder when John Carpenter is just going to give in and make a bonafide Western. You can tell he totally wants to.)

While I'm on the subject, can someone tell me why John Carpenter seems bent on titling all his recent movies with "John Carpenter's", as if we'll forget? It implies, oddly enough, that he didn't actually direct it, the way "Ian Fleming's James Bond" books were published long after Fleming was, technically, dead.

Anyway, the plot involves a squad from the Martian Police Force doing a prisoner transfer from a mining colony. Mars, it seems, is run by the "Matronage", a kind of Lillith-Fair dictatorship, which is a neat twist and gives some original zip to the movie. The transfer is quickly forgotten, as some sort of primal ghostly force is possessing the locals and turning them into a blood-crazed cabal of body-pierced mutilation enthusiasts (the movie often resembles a Slipknot video run amok). The throngs are led by a bulked-up Maximum Leader who looks like Marilyn Manson's steroid-pumped older brother. The cops and criminals join forces with the contents of the Hollywood Gun Shop, and mow down the screaming hordes in an effort to escape. One wonders why Merchant-Ivory didn't pick up this project.

The intriguing setting, the impressive visuals, and some creepy early scenes build up a lot of audience goodwill, which the film then chips away at relentlessly, as if willing itself to mediocrity. The narrative is clumsy,

with way too much reliance on flashback. The story itself is primarily told in flashback, which is understandable even if it does reveal too much about what's about to happen. But do we really need flashbacks within the movie to show us things we've already seen? There are also too many pointless camera tricks, such as time-lapse dissolves in scenes that don't merit them. The characters are needlessly stupid, especially the cops; they too often resort to using their guns in baseball-bat fashion, when they still have plenty of ammunition.

The cast, unfortunately, is not up to the task of raising the movie above the bar. Natasha Henstridge, whose onomastically-pleasing name is inevitably abbreviated in movie criticism as "that chick from 'Species'", is wooden and uncompelling as the pill-popping police lieutenant. She is standing in in the role for an injured Courtney Love, who would have been more effective, if less pleasant to look at. Clea Duvall is wasted as a spaced-out and mostly useless rookie; she seems about as comfortable with a Beretta in each hand as Quaker Grace Kelly in "High Noon". But Duvall is at least more memorable than that other rookie, whatsisname. Pam Grier puts in a good-sport appearance as the commander, but her scenes are brief. And there is the obligatory Smart Person Who Explains It All, whose line deliveries and pseudo-science are such that you will wish the others would feed her to the Manson family outside.

The only standouts in the cast are Jason Statham as the weary (but horny) sergeant, easily the most tactically compentent of the MPF contingent, and Ice Cube as the prisoner whose transfer is in such turmoil. Mr. Cube's unfocused, pinch-faced rage and dumbfounded bravado are pitch-perfect, and he has all the funniest lines. (Ironic that in a movie about a distaff-dominated society, the best performances are by men).

"Ghosts of Mars" will not rank among John Carpenter's best work (and here I am specifically thinking of "Big Trouble in Little China"), but despite its deficiencies I enjoyed it. Carpenter still has it, and when he's good, he's very good. Desperate-survival-against-the-murderous-armies has a primal power as a story archetype, and there's plenty of gun-blazing, head-bashing, flying-buzzsaw-dismemberment fun to be had by all. The music's pretty good, too. And there's something about Henstridge and Duvall in black leather SWAT uniforms that just pushes a button somewhere. Maybe it's just me.

If you fight, you can enjoy this movie in spite of its efforts to the contrary, but you will be a little battle-weary by the time the credits roll. Not everyone will be inclined to put forth the effort. But hey, can you really hate a movie whose villain is billed as "Big Daddy Mars"?

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It's not aged well but... bluemilkbluemilk
Atmosphere? john-2308
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