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Written by Administrator   
Jun 05, 2004 at 02:00 AM
From the famed director of "Starman," "Halloween" and "Escape From New York," "John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars" is a harrowing tale of rescue and escape from a colonized Mars 175 years into the future.

Mars, 2176 AD. Long inhabited by human settlers, the Red Planet has become the dark and dangerous 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. But one of those mining operations has uncovered a deadly mother lode: a long-dormant Martian civilization 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.

Lt. Melanie Ballard (Natasha Henstridge), a veteran of two years on the Mars Police Force, is on transport assignment to Shining Canyon to bring James "Desolation" Williams (Ice Cube), the planet’s most notorious criminal, to justice. Williams has no plans to make Ballard’s job easy and what begins as a battle of force and wits between cop and criminal soon turns into something more fundamental: a battle for human survival and escape from the doomed planet.

Joining Lt. Ballard on the mission are Bashira (Clea Duvall), the timid rookie; Jericho (Jason Statham), the fast talking young gun; Commander Helena Braddock (Pam Grier), the tough-as-nails veteran and Descanso (Liam Waite), the reliable soldier. When the team encounters Professor Whitlock (Joanna Cassidy) and learns of her deadly mistake – accidentally unleashing dormant evil Martian forces from an archaeological dig site – all hell breaks loose. It’s civilization against civilization and Shining Canyon becomes the O.K.Corral - 176 years into the future - as Ballard and Williams join forces in mortal combat with the "Ghosts of Mars."

Screen Gems presents a Storm King production, "John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars," directed by John Carpenter from a script by Larry Sulkis & John Carpenter. The producer is Sandy King. The director of photography is Gary B. Kibbe, A.S.C.; the production designer is Bill Elliott. Acclaimed special effects make-up artist Greg Nicotero, visual effects supervisor Lance Wilhoite and special effects coordinator Darrell Pritchett round out Carpenter’s technical team. The film will is edited by Paul Warschilka.


"Basic human nature will follow us to wherever we decide to live," says legendary sci-fi and horror director John Carpenter, an artist aptly acknowledged as "the master of terror." "There will be cops and outlaws, demons and saints, good and bad. And in some instances, the line between good and evil might be blurred." That’s how Carpenter describes his thoughts on the future colonization of other planets.

And it explains why Lt. Melanie Ballard of the Mars Police Force finds herself bruised, beaten – and handcuffed to a chair in front of a Board of Inquisition in the Martian city of Chryse. A series of bizarre events has been taking place on Mars. Whole towns are being destroyed, entire populations wiped out. The latest area to be devastated is the mining town of Shining Canyon, and Lt. Ballard seems to be the only survivor of yet another mysterious massacre.


The board is demanding answers. What a story Lt. Ballard will tell…

"Since the mid-eighties I’ve wanted to do a story about Mars," says Carpenter, whose credits include tales of the apocalypse ("Escape From L.A.," "Escape from New York"), the terrifying ("Halloween," "The Fog") and the supernatural ("Vampires," "The Thing"). "For centuries the planet has symbolized so many things to us – blood, war, love and passion. Additionally, I had a story about a cop and a crook bonding together to fight the forces of evil."

The forces of evil in this story, co-written by Carpenter and Larry Sulkis, take the form of an ancient Martian civilization which is accidentally unearthed during one of the planet’s many mining operations. The cop in this case is Lt. Melanie Ballard (Natasha Henstridge), assigned to lead a prisoner transport squad of the Mars Police Force, whose routine mission quickly becomes a nightmare of survival. And the crook is one James "Desolation" Williams (Ice Cube), born on Mars and the most wanted man on the planet.

"It’s a couple of hundred years into the future," says Natasha Henstridge, who plays Lt. Melanie Ballard. "We’ve inhabited Mars because Earth has become over-populated. I’m a Lieutenant in the Police Force, but Mars is not really where I want to be - I’m just trying to make the best of my stay until I can get transferred back to Earth."

The rest of the squad is made up Commander Braddock (Pam Grier), the leader of the mission; Jericho (Jason Statham,) the tough talking young gun; and Bashira (Clea Duvall), the rookie.

"Jericho is one of the more experienced males on the Mars Police Force," says Statham of his character. "He’s a specialist with locks and mechanical objects and highly trained in the art of fighting."
But in John Carpenter’s look at Mars in the future, the society is clearly matriarchal and it’s the women, like Commander Braddock and Lt. Ballard, who hold superior positions. "Basically, Jericho is a breeder male," continues Statham. "He finds a challenge in Melanie and tries to get as much out of her as he can. Even during the most trying circumstances," he adds with a wink, "Jericho has ulterior motives."

The one female on the squad clearly not in a position of command is Bashira. "I’m a rookie cop on her first assignment," says Clea Duvall of her character. "I start out timid and naïve, but as the night goes by I quickly becomes a veteran," she adds with a laugh.

The object of their mission? James "Desolation" Williams. Ice Cube, no stranger to tough roles, describes his character: "Williams was born on Mars. He’s never been to Earth, knows nothing about it. All he’s ever known is Mars and trying to survive in a tough place. And in trying to stay alive, he’s had to do whatever he could. Sometimes that involved breaking whatever law there is up there and somehow I’ve become the most notorious criminal on the planet."
When the squad gets to Shining Canyon, instead of a bustling mining operation, they find deserted buildings and, as they explore even further, mutilated corpses and signs of mass destruction. In the jail, they find their prisoner – behind bars. "You got this group of cops coming to take me to trial," says Ice Cube, "but when they get to Shining Canyon, the town is totally dead, no one’s there. The cops are trying to figure out what happened and, even though I’m locked up in a cell, they try to blame everything on me."

It’s not until the ghosts of that dormant civilization make themselves known that the cops and Williams realize what they’re up against. And it’s not until they discover one more person, Professor Whitlock (Joanna Cassidy), cowering in the corner of another jail cell, that they fully understand what’s happened at Shining Canyon.

"This civilization had been dormant for who knows how many years," says Joanna Cassidy who plays the scientist/archeologist Whitlock. "I inadvertently release these ghosts who have been systematically murdering the Earth colonists and taking over their bodies."

"When Professor Whitlock finally breaks the news to us about what she’s done," says Ice Cube, "we realize what we’re in for and know we’ve all got to band together or we’re history."

"I find myself caught up in a situation that I don’t understand," says Natasha Henstridge of her character. "There’s a lot of confusion and frustration, but when Commander Braddock is killed, I end up taking over command and keeping us together. The bottom line is we cops end up joining forces with the bad guys and try to save the day."

What follows is a fight to the death, civilization against civilization – one night on Mars that will decide nothing less than the future of the human race.

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