Movie Magazine International

John Carpenter's Ghost from Mars

USA - 2001

Movie Review By Moira Sullivan

John Carpenter's Ghost From Mars now in current release is actually a really great B film. Let's face it the Queen of B Pam Grier is the head of this wacko matriarchy that brings down the baddies. Carpenter who admitted to having to fight to have his name added to the beginning of the title, is a revered veteran to the screen with classics such as Halloween , currently experiencing a cult revival. And he says he likes getting that check every time the film is shown. Maybe in years to come he'll be combing in revenues for Ghost from Mars .

This widescreen spectacle essentially works because of the perpetual darkness of Shining Canyon, the setting for this apocalyptic action film. Pam Grier plays Helena, the commander of a police unit sent to bring in James 'Desolation' Williams (played by none other than Ice Cube) from Shining Canyon. Wooden stereotypes prevail as expected from great B epics but the policewomen can kick butt, and do it well. Helena also is a lecherous lesbian who Lieutenant Melanie Ballard (Natasha Henstridge) resists. Ballard also resists another more grossly obvious male officer but winds up kissing him. Will Helena get a second chance? You'll have to be there to find out.

Things go haywire in Shining Canyon when archaeologist Whitlock (Joanna Cassidy) unwittingly unlocks an evil force which looks like mars dust. The problem is that it takes host in a human Marilyn Manson species that among other things impale their victims on stakes like the original Rumanian warrior Dracul. There is also a bit part by dyke rookie Bashira (Clea Duvall) and weird battle scenes with CD-rom like instruments of torture in this dark oasis of tattooed and pierced baddies.

Carpenter says there has to be good and evil in all horror films, and this has the usual suspects. Ballard's duel with 'Desolation' proves that good cops and bad crooks can synthesize into eternity. One other noteworthy event is that Ballard, a Crystal drug addict manages to become immune to the badness because of being under the influence. Most curiously the evil ones are merely trying to save their planet from invaders from Earth who as usual have to exert muscle and firepower on these poor mutant self mutilated warriors. This film is so bad its good in the true meaning of grade A quality B.

This is Moira Sullivan for Movie Magazine International, Venice Italy

© 2001 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 10/01

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