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John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars

Director:John Carpenter
Writers:John Carpenter and Larry Sulkis
Screen Gems; R; 98 minutes
Release:8/01
Cast:Ice Cube, Natasha Henstridge, Jason Stratham

The first scare in John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars is the title. Movies billed as “So-and-so's Film” almost always try to invoke someone's faded fame to assist the sale of a substandard product unable to stand on its own. Sadly, this is the case with Carpenter's latest. The ghosts in the title seem to refer to elements taken from his other movies: Night of the Living Dead, Halloween, Assault on Precinct 13, and The Thing, to name a few.

Ice Cube and Natasha Henstridge star. He's an escaped criminal, the most dangerous man on Mars (the film's set in 2176), and she's the officer leading a team to recapture him. In the meanwhile, human meddling has unleashed a horde of Martian spirits who turn humans into ghouls. Their raggedy punk leader goes by the name of Big Daddy Mars, which suggests that he'll try to crossover to hip-hop if the attacking-puny-humans-thing doesn't work out. This Martian threat is big enough to convince Desolation Williams (Cube) and Lieutenant Ballard (Henstridge) to join forces just to stay alive.

The plot takes increasingly preposterous turns until it lies a few steps away from John Travolta's sci-fi flop, Battlefield: Earth. Carpenter fans would better spend their time by renting the films that made him a classic force in the sci-fi/horror genre.


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