This John Carpenter Horror Western is a huge box office bomb

A lawman takes an iron horse to a mining town on the border. An outlaw named Desolation is waiting to be brought to justice in the city. The only problem? Ghost. or Mars. Or flashbacks set in flashbacks. accept, John Carpenter‘s Ghost of Mars As a solution to the problem, was released in 2001 as a major drubbing. Sometimes considered Carpenter’s worst film, the sci-fi horror western was the last feature he directed for nearly a decade, breaking impressive records in the ’70s and ’80s with genre classics such as Halloween And Escape from New York Before wobbling through the ’90s. In this way, Carpenter’s arrival in the 2000s is a logical endpoint: like the mythical cowboy – or the Western genre itself – he is bound to a specific time and place. Ghost of Mars Is a very spiritual remake of his earlier Attack area 13 Just four years before the actual remake, and in the same summer as CG blockbusters The Mummy returns And Jurassic Park III. Could this be why horror movies from The Horror Master himself seem to have ended his directing career?

It is possible Ghost of Mars It hasn’t been around long enough, though modern critics have begun to reevaluate. This is John Carpenter’s curse, or one of them, anyway. Attack area 13 Opened to mixed reviews in America, and found only its audience in Europe. thing Bombed the office, and Vincent Canby wrote in The New York Times That it is “the quintessential moron movie of the 80s.” Fast forward almost 40 years, and Quentin Tarantino The movie is being praised on late night talk shows. Ghost of Mars Similarly, there may be its champions. The difference, of course, is that John Carpenter continued to make movies after that Attack area 13And thingAnd The big problem is in Little China — he’s been around a few times — so it’s tempting to think of each re-evaluated classic as a single piece of paper, with. Ghost of Mars A thousand Based on the location alone, it is really a type of high concept that combines the characteristics of his filmography .

Related: 8 Best John Carpenter Movies That Aren’t ‘Halloween’ or ‘The Thing’

What is ‘Ghosts of Mars’ about?

Jason Statham and Clea DuVall with arms crossed in Ghosts of Mars
Image via Screen Gems

In fact, the Iron Horse is the space train of the future, and the mining town carved into the Red Planet. Indeed, the member of parliament is a law woman, Lieutenant Melanie Ballard (Natasha Henstridge) — nothing but normal in a matriarchal society. This is a fascinating world-building detail that almost distracts from the science fiction action – this is a man’s field – and ensures that the cast is filled with talent such as Pam Grier, Clea DuvallAnd Joanna Cassidy. There was an incident where one cop was suspicious, (you know, “stop me!”) and another cop had to shouted “General!”, but in this situation, all three were women. Pam Grier’s character Commander Helena Braddock leads Melanie and a small group of cops into Shining Canyon to retrieve the imprisoned Desolation Williams (Ice) and they saw that the city was empty. After unlocking several doors thanks to Sergeant Jericho Butler (Jason Statham) and place Desolation, the situation becomes clear, if such a thing can be: the mineral is possessed by the vengeful spirit of the dead Martians. They were now running around in a mass of mutilated humans, waving leaves and throwing saws like shuriken, with alarming accuracy.

John Carpenter rarely makes sequels to his own movies, with some exceptions Escape from LA It is a departure from the roots Escape from New York. This makes science fiction movies like Ghost of Mars There’s more world-building than it strictly needs, as the story begins with appropriate adjectives like “Matronage” and “Utopia” – the penal colony in Jericho’s biography – before its scope collapses into a siege. Most of the film takes place in the non-descript interior of a city jail, with rooms that look like living rooms. As a result, the scenes of the main theater lack visual distinction and blur together. The story becomes muddy and hard to engage with, but maybe that’s the point? Ghost of Mars Opening with a frame narrative, Melanie gives a post-action report as the sole survivor of the Desolation Williams mission. She becomes the narrator for the past events, presented by screenwipe transitions or crossfades. In fact, crossfades are important to the grammar of the film, even occurring between shots within successive scenes.

‘Ghosts of Mars’ is cool, but compromised

Richard Cetrone is the sword-wielding Grandfather Mars in Ghosts of Mars
Image via Screen Gems

Along with the altered state induced by Melanie’s drug addiction, and ghostly visions with red flavor a la. die evil, the film has a dream-like structure with a soporific effect may be appropriate. However, when it comes time to make good on the over-the-top theme, Ghost of Mars Really delivered. Cops and criminals team up against a supernatural threat, and for some reason that means kung fu, broken bones, and Cut off the head at the base of the explosion. The phenomenon is so great and so sudden, thanks to Desolation that he literally loses his temper and throws himself into the crowd of enemies with an exploding machine gun barrel. Compatriots Uno (Duane Davis) shouted, “Jericho, bomb!” And Jericho turns and throws him a bomb. It’s like a video game, although no one understands the rules. See, when the host’s body is killed, the ghost will emerge and find a new host. So why is it burning? If you kill a ghost you are possessed!

The situation appears logically, as before The return of the dead And its undying zombies. It turns out, there’s really no way to stop these angry Martian spirits, so Melanie and Desolation walk into the closing credits with the promise that they’ll keep fighting. “Let’s kick some ass,” Desolation said. “It’s what we do best,” Melanie replies, and that’s the last line of the movie. Cycle of violence, but how to suggest? Some wry comments about the growth of America? Well, it is difficult to say, and this is the pit of any kind of combination with the West. At its heart, this is the story of “cowboys and Indians”, with the Martians showing the characteristics of traditional films: war colors, singing, preindustrial weapons. It’s not the most stunning of shows, these shocking performances with artisanal appreciation for heads on pikes – not to mention that the resolution of the title is killing them all. “It’s not their planet anymore,” Melanie said. This is where the wry comment wants to come in, but it doesn’t.

‘Ghosts of Mars’ was one of Carpenter’s last major directing credits

Natasha Henstridge and Ice Cube in Ghosts of Mars
Image via Screen Gems

All the puzzle pieces are there, but they don’t fit together. In fact, some of the pieces seem to belong to other puzzles. Melanie’s use of drugs, the narrative frame, and the dream-like quality of the film come together to say something about the unreliable narration, but within her flashback, we get the testimony of other characters with corresponding flashbacks. More importantly, what do unreliable narratives have to do with vengeful spirits? Unless there is suspicion that Melanie is possessed and her account of events is destroyed? But if that is caused by text, again, what? Which isn’t to say that a point is always a point, but its absence can make for a more complex, confusing topic than a midnight movie publication. There is a lot going on Ghost of Mars, but there is not enough of one thing. Desolation isn’t hardcore killcore like Riddick, he’s just a guy in prison. Similarly, as a pastiche of previous John Carpenter films, it does nothing better than what he did before, and therefore, it is another John Carpenter film. However, this is too precious to lose.

In an interview with Shocked until you drop In 2010, John Carpenter explained when he would wrap up Ghost of Mars, he found himself exhausted, and out of love with the process. He was not quite done with filmmaking at that time Mick Garris Invite him to lead two episodes of Master of HorrorAnd he tried to launch several film projects before landing Foster care. Whether it was the constant rejection by the general moviegoers or the pressures of film production, The Horror Master chose to keep Hollywood at arm’s length. He will produce and he will score, but the next place John Carpenter’s something of something? If anything, the title is similar Ghost of Mars Seriously opens the floodgates of B-movie possibilities. John Carpenter’s Zombies… on Ice? Samurai from Hell? Fun but too idiosyncratic, it may not be a hidden gem, but it tells us one thing: John Carpenter’s only “worst” movie is non-existent.

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