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May 20, 2019

Midnight Horror Review: John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars


Mill Creek Entertainment; Amazon
One of my favorite movie directors is John Carpenter, who happened to direct and co-wrote my favorite movie, Halloween. Mr. Carpenter made several "classic" horror and science fiction films during the 1980s. However, the 1990s weren't too good for the director, as almost every one of his films during this decade were complete flops; though over the the years many of them have become cult classics. His last two efforts (I'm not counting the two Masters of Horror episodes!) were 2001's Ghosts of Mars and 2010's The Ward.

Ghosts of Mars was originally planned to be the the third entry in the Snake Plissken film series with Kurt Russell returning as Snake. The title would have been Escape from Mars. After Escape From L.A. flopped, the film's title was changed to Ghosts of Mars and Snake was renamed to James 'Desolation' Williams with Ice Cube playing the character. The movie was released to Blu-ray (R; 99 minutes; $14.98) last week by Mill Creek Entertainment.

The film is set during the 22nd Century where Mars has been terraformed 84% and humans can walk around without having to wear a spacesuit. The plot involves Commander Helena Braddock (played by Pam Grier), Lieutenant Melanie Ballard (played by Natasha Henstridge), Sergeant Jericho Butler (played by Jason Statham), and a few other officers being sent on a mission to retrieve the criminal "Desolation" Williams (played by Ice Cube), who's in a prison cell located in the remote region of the planet. Unknowingly to the squad, the local mining workers had stumbled upon a Martian ancient crypt and unleashed evil spirits who have now taken over the bodies of the workers.

To escape Mars, the squat must work with Desolation, so they can find a way to stop the evil Martian spirits.

Special Features on the Blu-ray include:
  • Audio Commentary with Director John Carpenter and Natasha Henstridge
  • Video Diary: Red Desert Nights
  • Featurette: "Scoring Ghosts of Mars"
  • Special Effects (SFX) Deconstructions


Final Thoughts

I've always had mixed feelings for Ghosts of Mars. Like I've already mentioned, I'm a big fan of John Carpenter's flicks, but this film is lacking originality. The plot is completely bonkers, the characters are one-dimensional, the dialogue is laughable, and the production values are more in par with a bad made-for-SyFy movie. The cast and the score is only two things intriguing about this little flick. Natasha Henstridge looks great on screen and gives a decent performance; Ice Cube is having tons of fun in his role; and Jason Statham gives his usual Statham performance. As for the directing, Mr. Carpenter did a alright job, but nothing spectacular.

The picture and sound quality is really good on this Blu-ray release. There are several bonus features, which I'm guessing are the same ones that were on the original DVD release.

Overall, Ghosts of Mars is a forgettable horror science fiction flick that will only appeal to diehard John Carpenter fans. Despite its many, many flaws, the film does look excellent on Blu-ray.

*Note: I received a review copy from Mill Creek Entertainment. 
All opinions are my own.

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