Ghosts of Mars

Rated 2.0 John Carpenter (Halloween) has made a senseless outer space horror-action-western that is so cheesy in structure and execution (imagine a lame crossing-breeding of Michael Jackson’s Thriller video, Assault on Precinct 13 and 3:10 to Yuma) that it is perversely entertaining. Set on the Red Planet in the year 2176, the film begins when cop Melanie (Species’ Natasha Henstridge) returns to headquarters alone and handcuffed inside a train after attempting to retrieve a notorious criminal (Ice Cube) from a mining camp jail cell. In flashbacks, we are shown her comrades getting dismembered and decapitated by apparitions that commandeer and mutilate human bodies by entering their hosts through their ears. It’s a gore fest in which Melanie is sexually propositioned by both her female superior (Pam Grier) and male partner (Snatch’s Jason Statham), and eventually strips to her underwear. With code names like Transmarinara suggesting a new genre (spaghetti science fiction), this flick groans under the weight of such calls and responses as: “This is the second time I saved your life.” “Yeah. Run a tab.”