Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. USA, 2001. Screen Gems, Storm King Productions, Animationwerks. Screenplay by John Carpenter, Larry Sulkis. Cinematography by Gary B. Kibbe. Produced by Sandy King. Music by Anthrax, John Carpenter. Production Design by William A. Elliott. Costume Design by Robin Michel Bush. Film Editing by Paul C. Warschilka.
Fans of pulp-science-fiction will find much to enjoy in this relentlessly frightening film from horror meister John Carpenter, one which joins in the long line of Mars adventures that have been coming out lately. Not as classy as Mission to Mars but not nearly as boring as Red Planet, Ghosts of Mars is an economically-made, tightly-edited adventure yarn about a crew of futuristic security guards on the red marble led by leather-clad vixen Pam Grier, sent by their superiors to an isolated mining town to pick up a murder suspect recently apprehended (Ice Cube) and escort him to back to the capital city. Upon arrival, the tough guys (best of them being the lovely Natasha Henstridge) find out that the mouthy criminal is the least of their problems: it seems there are evil spirits coming out of the red rocks and they are possessing the miners to all sorts of devilish extremes: self-mutilation, cannibalism, and finally, putting on lots of makeup to go to a KISS concert. Oddly enough, this little hilarity never robs the film of its impact, and though in the end what you’ve really seen is an overly gory so-so action flick, there are enough jumps and starts to convince you to have a good time while you’re waiting for the credits to roll. The extremely gorgeous Joanna Cassidy has a great supporting role as the resident doctor with too much information (and responsibility).