Blu-Ray Review: Ghosts of Mars

Even before Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to walk on the Moon, humans have been looking to the stars. The 1950s became boom time for sci-fi cinema as writers and directors captured the imagination of an entire generation. The Forbidden Planet, War of the Worlds, Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Day the Earth Stood Still entranced, shocked and inspired. Using these building blocks, and taking a cue on modern classics such as Pitch Black, John Carpenter unleashed Ghosts of Mars.

In the 22nd Century, Mars has almost been almost entirely terraformed. Melanie Ballard (Natasha Henstridge) is a police officer tasked with delivering criminal Desolation Williams (Ice Cube) to prison from a remote mining colony. When they arrive, they find the town deserted. The inhabitants have opened a doorway to an ancient civilisation whose spirits possess and drive their hosts insane. Ballard must assemble a small squad of survivors and escape.

Whilst Ghosts of Mars is in many ways an incredibly messy and often unintentionally funny film, Carpenter injects a spirit and intensity which is surprisingly entertaining. The ensemble cast features several familiar faces, including a young Jason Statham and Pam Grier, but it’s Henstridge who’s gamely driving it forward. Ghosts of Mars may contain too many ‘B’ Movie tropes to be entirely successful, but it’s a film you’ll enjoy, despite yourself.

Indicator Limited Edition Special Features:

• High Definition remaster
• 5.1 surround sound track
• Alternative stereo audio
• Audio commentary with director John Carpenter and actor Natasha Henstridge
• The Guardian Interview with John Carpenter – Part Two, 1984-1994 (1994, 41 mins): the director discusses his career with Nigel Floyd at the National Film Theatre, London
Video Diary: Red Desert Nights – Making ‘Ghosts of Mars’ (2001, 17 mins): location documentary exploring various aspects of the production
Scoring ‘Ghosts of Mars’ (2001, 6 mins): behind-the-scenes footage of John Carpenter, Steve Vai, Buckethead and members of Anthrax during the recording sessions for the film’s score
Special Effects Deconstruction (2001, 7 mins): documentary montage looking at the art and design of the film
• Concept Art Gallery: illustrator John Eaves’ original production designs
• Original theatrical trailer
• New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• Exclusive 24-page booklet with a new essay by Nick Pinkerton, and a 2001 on-set interview with John Carpenter
• UK Blu-ray premiere
• Limited Dual Format Edition of 7,000 copies

Ghosts of Mars is released on Dual Format by Powerhouse Films as part of the Indicator Series on Monday.

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