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Ghosts of Mars

Year: 2001
Production Co: Screen Gems
Director: John Carpenter
Writer: John Carpenter/Larry Sulkis
Cast: Natasha Henstridge, Ice Cube, Jason Statham, Pam Grier, Joanna Cassidy, Robert Carradine

This isn't the John Carpenter of Halloween , The Thing or Big Trouble in Little China. It's the other one who made The Ward, In the Mouth of Madness and Escape from LA.

The title seems to promise so much – ghosts, somewhere even more remote and far from help than a mansion in the dripping swamps of Louisiana. Unfortunately, the ghosts are kind of stupid and the Martian setting is completely redundant.

Natasha Henstridge is – somewhat implausibly – the leader of a team of crack commandoes sent to a mining outpost on Mars to pick up and transport suspected mass murderer Desolation Jones (Ice Cube) to a high tech prison further out.

But when they arrive, the colony is deserted. Why? Let me tell you. The spirits belonging to a race of warrior aliens who used to inhabit Mars have taken over all the workers' bodies and turned them all into a clan of poor-man's Mad Max extras straight from Central Casting. Yes, it's that stupid.

So when the supermodel, the rapper, Jason Statham and the former queen of blaxploitation (Pam Grier) arrive and find out what's going on, they have to battle the face-painted, feather earring-wearing hordes and the whole thing turns into little more than a big fight scene...on another planet. It fails as a sci-fi film, an action film and a horror film in one scene after another.

If you're convinced Carpenter is a low budget filmmaking genius because of a few emblematic movies, you need to watch other entries in his oeuvre like this and get some balance.

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