[SPOTLIGHT] Movie: The Ghosts of Mars (2001)

Do you people know “John Carpenter´s GHOSTS OF MARS”?  [!WARNING! THIS POST HERE CONTAINS ALL THE SPOILERS!]

It is a scifi-horror b-movie about human colonies on Mars, the unintended release of an alien menace of the body-snatching kind and a lot of shooting and melee between an outnumbered group of armed (but yet unprepared) colonists from different avenues of life and a horde of savage, taken-over former colonists that make Attila the Hun look perfectly reasonable and civilized.  The movie itself is cheesy as they come with a matching set of characters (and a rather solid cast of action-film actors, by the by!). Its focus on effects, violence and “kewl” dialog lines. And of course, it was a cinema flop.

But it has some very interesting backdrop elements to it that hint at an interesting “fictional world”. It never really makes a difference for plot development, but human society seems to be a matriarchy where the guys get de-classified for a lack of reason. While this isn´t making EVERY woman superior to a man (there are some examples of “female scum” characters among the extras) it seems to ban the males from those position where they would be actually in charge of anything important. The situation on Mars is even a little bit more special as the red planet seems to be run by a corporate-matriarchy (!). If there was a piece of fiction before that featured any such, I am not aware of it (feel free to point me to it by leaving a comment). This is not the revolution of the sci-fi genre, but I think it´s a neat detail.

Mars itself seems to be pretty much badlands, but they are working on terraforming. A character mentions to a young one that complains about the need for wearing a kind-of-respirator (really, just a tube under the nose that adds some more oxygen to what you breath in) that back in her days, one could not step outside without wearing full environmental gear. The planet looks as barren and red as we suppose Mars to look like, there are mining settlements and the one or other large “hub” scattered around the planet.

The shit hits the van as some malevolent, once-bodily and now body-less  life forms are released by accident after their “tomb” (or perhaps prison?) is discovered by a mining operation and of course some (female) scientist has to inspect the find and release the alien menace. The bodiless aliens in turn “possess” the colonists en mass and, after getting used to their new bodies, start to “decorate” their hosts in a way that is best summed up as self-mutilation (unless you belong to the extremer parts of the body-mod-scene). They then go about slaying the non-possessed humans with bare hands or by using improvised or crudely fashioned melee weapons (no use of firearms on their side!).  The mean thing: if their host gets killed, the alien entity just leaves it and gets itself a new one. Only things that are actually air-tight are an obstacle to a body-less alien.

Why do I mention all this? Because it makes for a wonderful background for a post-apocalyptic scenario on Mars, that´s why! The movie ends with the obligatory “everything goes south now” scene after the heroes kinda saved the day…by blowing up a nuclear plant in hope that THIS would stop the “Ghosts of Mars”… either that did not work out OR there are more of them.  It calls “world background” to me and I think it calls out “Mutant Future”(tm), too! …and I will share my vision with you in the following days.

Stay tuned!

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