GHOSTS OF MARS (2001) Reviews and overview

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Ghosts of Mars is a 2001 American science fiction action horror feature film directed by John Carpenter from a screenplay co-written with Larry Sulkis (Village of the Damned). The Screen Gems movie stars Natasha Henstridge, Ice Cube, Jason Statham, Pam Grier, Clea DuVall, and Joanna Cassidy.

Carpenter composed the soundtrack score with thrash metal band Anthrax.

Ghosts of Mars will be released on Blu-ray by Mill Creek Entertainment on May 14, 2019.


Mars, 2176 AD. Long colonised by human settlers, the Red Planet has become the manifest destiny of an over-populated Earth. 640, 000 people now live and work at far-flung outposts all over Mars, mining the planet for its abundant natural resources.

However, one of those mining operations has uncovered a deadly mother lode: a long-dormant Martian civilisation whose warriors, now unleashed and apparently unstoppable, are systematically taking over the bodies of human intruders, bent on ridding the planet of the invaders from Earth…


” …it still might’ve come together as cheesy entertainment if the action hadn’t been so generic; I swear, if I saw one more slow-motion, A-Team explosion catapulting stuntmen through the air, I was gonna scream. And holy crap, there are more flashbacks here than in an entire season of Family Guy. ” Black Horror Movies

“If you can suspend disbelief, Carpenter takes you on a fun ride with some edgy moments. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get into it. All good sci fi hinges on a solid premise of “what if”, and Ghosts of Mars throws too many half-hearted “what ifs” at the audience. The cheap sets and dim lighting don’t help…” Greg Maltz,

“The ineffectiveness of the look combined with the familiarity of the story makes it almost pointless especially when the dialogue also seems to have been created out of cliches. But the worst writing offence is to start the movie at point X and then tell what happened in flashback…” Andy Webb, The Movie Scene

“Despite his intentions, Ghosts of Mars is a less than functional retelling of Mr. Carpenter’s B-picture classic Assault on Precinct 13‘ with a bit of his film The Fog. He tops the mix with a wish-fulfillment version of Night of the Living Dead. He is capable of better than this, a picture full of ghosts from his and other directors’ more interesting work.” Elvis Mitchell, The New York Times

“As waves of zombified killers attack the heroes, actions scenes become shooting galleries, and darned if in the year 2176 they aren’t still hurling sticks of dynamite from moving trains. All basic stuff, and yet Carpenter brings pacing and style to it, and Natasha Henstridge provides a cool-headed center.” Roger Ebert

“The best thing this movie has going for it is the end-of-the-world bunker look of the colony and its heavy-duty train-to-nowhere. John Carpenter’s Mars, by the way, has an atmosphere earthlings can breathe. Heck, they can see it. No need, anyway, for ponderous spacesuits. Everything else is ponderous enough.” Bob Graham, San Francisco Chronicle

Ghosts is certainly uneven: the script is underwritten, and although the action scenes are generally excellent, the first big fight sports clumsily choreographed extras simply running circles in the background, and the limited budget obvious in places. Casting is frustrating: having Grier in his film ought to have provoked more imagination from Carpenter…” Roderick Heath, This Island Rod

Cast and characters:

  • Natasha Henstridge … Lieutenant Melanie Ballard
  • Ice Cube … Desolation Williams
  • Jason Statham … Sgt Jericho Butler
  • Clea DuVall … Bashira Kincaid
  • Pam Grier … Commander Helena Braddock
  • Joanna Cassidy … Whitlock
  • Richard Cetrone … Big Daddy Mars
  • Rosemary Forsyth … Inquisitor
  • Liam Waite … Michael Descanso
  • Duane Davis … Uno
  • Lobo Sebastian … Dos
  • Rodney A. Grant … Tres
  • Peter Jason … McSimms
  • Wanda De Jesus … Akooshay
  • Doug McGrath … Benchley
  • Rick Edelstein … Zimmerman
  • Robert Carradine … Rodale
  • Michael Krawic … Man in the Rover
  • Eileen Weisinger … Woman Warrior
  • Rex Linn … Yared
  • Matt Nolan … Miner
  • Marjean Holden … Young Woman


Ghosts of Mars received mainly negative reviews and was a box office bomb earning $14 million at the box office, against a $28 million production budget.

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