This week on the B movie docket is Ghosts of Mars
B movies are the glue stuck in between all the other genres, oftentimes refusing to conform to any particular genre presets. Some but not all of the hallmarks of a B movie include scripts that read like they were written by a room full of eighth-graders, poor visual effects, cringe-inducing dialogue, low budget production design, and zany plot contrivances. You’re aware of the hallmarks, right? B-movies often reek of amateur flair. Thought you were about to watch a great white shark hunted in dramatic fashion like only Steven Spielberg can deliver? Nope, this is Sharknado.
Why do we love B movies? I think B movies are comforting. You know what you’re about to watch is bad. If you’re fortunate it may be so bad that it’s good. You’ll often scratch your head trying to work out the plot. Out of the many good films you’ve seen, I bet you can talk with more vigor about the worst ones you’ve seen. They’re unforgettable. There’s something comforting about that I think. Besides they’ve been around just as long as the movie industry.
Believe it or not, chances are there’s a B movie for you. So I compiled a list of 50 B movies you must see before you die. No decade is off-limits. No rating is too taboo. For the next 49 weeks, I will introduce and recommend a B movie for your viewing pleasure. Yes, these are exciting times indeed my fanatical friends.
WEEK 39 – Ghosts of Mars
Oftentimes watching movies that allow you to tune in and out without feeling lost is a pastime. This ain’t Tenet. So, fear not. This plot has been told and retold in movies before. Only this time it features Friday’s Ice Cube, Species Natasha Henstridge, Foxy Brown’s Pam Greer, and Hobbs and Shaw’s Jason Statham.
Ghosts of Mars is a semi horror science fiction film directed by John Carpenter of Halloween fame. The film might not be Michael Myers on Mars. It is instead a bit like Night of The Living Dead set on Mars. But with lots of action. I have never seen Statham act in anything where he isn’t attacking something. Plus there’s Cube who brings a gangster like swagger to Mars.
Cube plays James ‘Desolation’ Williams. Proving that in the future middle names get to be bad @##. His character is wanted for the murder of an entire Martian space depot. Natasha Henstridge’s Lieutenant Melanie Ballard is sent in with a team of soldiers. She also likes to get high on space drugs. Proving that even in space, humans will want to escape reality. Why this drug addled leading lady is chosen to retrieve Cube’s character is beyond me. At least she has capable backup in the form of Cube and Greer. Her team makes Predator’s Dutch and his squad seem PG.
Because at least none of them were on drugs and were not trying to shag in the heat of battle. But that’s what happens when you put Statham’s Jericho Butler with Henstridge’s in any scene together. Apparently in the future certain people are designated as breeders. Statham and Henstridge’s are two such breeders. That storyline isn’t explored unless Statham is using it as an excuse to hook up with Henstridge.
It’s not smart sci fi. But it does try to present an interesting backstory. Mars looks like Mars from every movie we have seen. But that’s not a bad thing. There’s architecture on top of red desert. Until someone tells us different, I am fine with this depiction of the Martian landscape.
So, Henstridge and her team are sent in to find and capture Cube’s Desolation Williams. They find him at the space jail. I guess it would be proper to refer to her team as space cops from here on out. So Henstridge’s space cops find Cube, some prisoners, and a bunch of dead people strung upside down.
Watching this it dawned on me, that for the first half hour you could tell someone that had no prior knowledge of Ghosts of Mars that they were watching a sequel to Predator. Because within the first half hour we meet a ragtag team, visit a location where people are dead hanging strung upside down from the ceiling. There are also a bunch of shots of heads on futuristic pikes. Somewhere around the half hour mark it becomes clear the monster is supernatural and not a space hunter.
The good thing about this movie are the kills. There are a lot on display. It’s not Saw level stuff, but some people do go out in memorable fashion. There’s one scene that sticks out to me involving a space drug addict maiming himself in a botched can opening. Never open a can with a machete, especially not while under the influence.
Even on Mars, the man has his foot on the little guy’s neck. As Cube drops a telling one liner: I could give a damn about this planet, it seems like it has been after me since the day I was born. Speaking of one liners, there are a few that would seem right at home in a Tarantino flick. Take this one line of dialogue Henstridge delivers: tell your dogs to quit barking so we can talk. It’s got the right amount of cheese.
If you’re looking for a action B movie that is science fiction without being too much so, give Ghosts of Mars a watch.