Directed by: John Carpenter
Written by:John Carpenter
Starring: Natasha Henstridge, Ice Cube, Pam Grier, Clea DuVall, Jason Statham, Joanna Cassidy
Released: October 25, 2001
Grade: C-

Excruciating.  Period.  It has taken ten months but I can safely say I’ve seen the film that will have the distinction of being my worst of the year (and this year that’s quite an achievement).  Maybe man just wasn’t meant to go to Mars (at least in the movies).  Following last year’s sci-fi stinkers Red Planet and Mission To Mars, you’d think Mars would be a setting worth avoiding.  The lesson hasn’t been learnt.

A group of police officers led by Helena (Grier) and Melanie (Ballad) are on route via train to pick up a prisoner from an outer community on the Martian planet.  The prisoner is James “Desolation” Williams (Cube) and with a history of grizzly murders, he’s got everyone security conscious.

When they get to the mining town where he is being held in lockup, all is quiet.  There’s not a single resident on the streets and something is definitely amiss.  A check of the local hangouts reveals a gruesome discovery.  People are found strung by their feet from the ceiling with their heads severed.  Charming.

No survivors are found until the prisoners themselves are discovered untouched in the police station’s basement.  None are aware of the carnage upstairs.  There is one person however who’s in the lock-up by choice.  Dr. Whitlock (Cassidy) is from a nearby town and has seen what is responsible for the massacre.  In a mining accident, a mysterious germ was unearthed that turned all who came in contact with it into savages.  Now, the virus has started to spread and looks set to take over the planet...

There’s nothing I can say that acutely describes the mental anguish that audience members will suffer.  The film may have been made by horror “specialist” John Carpenter but his direction brought back painful memories ala Battlefield Earth.  Note for attention - lots of loud explosions that have been poorly edited look really, really stupid.  Let me not forget the pathetic action, sick violence and overuse of fake blood.

The actors aren’t escaping my wrath either.  All are destined to spend the rest of their lives starring in B-grade telemovies as studios wouldn’t dare offer them another decent role having seen Ghosts of Mars on their resume.  One of the drawcards, Pam Grier, is killed in the opening half-hour.  Rising star Clea DuVall says about three sentences in the whole film.  Natasha Henstridge has most attention but it’s clear she’s in the film just to please the male audience.  As for Ice Cube, need I say anything?

I’ve already wasted an hour and a half trying to look away from the screen and frankly, I don’t want any part of the rest of my life associated with Ghosts Of Mars.  With that said, I’m out of here.