Ghosts of Mars Preview

A small note prior to this post: Last July we decided to take a look back at the movies that we watched over five years ago and choose a Hall of Fame class, five movies that we thought embodied BMT in some way. Perhaps they were particularly bad, or an example of a specific bad movie trope, whatever, something made them stand out as special in our minds. Since we didn’t do email previews before 2013ish we also decided to provide a preview for the movie. This is the second in a series of five leading up to our yearly awards the Smaddies Baddies. A recap (Hall of Fame speech really) will follow immediately afterwards to explain why the movie was chosen, things we loved about the movie, and things we discovered upon second viewing. Enjoy!

Ghosts of Mars (2001) – BMeTric: 67.2

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(that is quite a low rating I’m going to be honest. I’m not really surprised, the movie is a hilarious debacle, but you’d think those John Carpenter heads out there might be keeping the rating afloat a bit.)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars –  In the near future, Mars has been colonized, but there’s an outbreak of mass murder in some remote settlements. People are possessed by vengeful Martian ghosts; it’s up to the leam of a lady cop and a hardened criminal to battle them. Routine, predictable, and dull; unimaginatively, the Martian-possessed people adopt a punk/grunge look. Basically a remake of Carpenter’s early Assault on Precinct 13.

(Multiple places note the similarities between this as Assault on Precinct 13. The reviews seem like a mix between either dull and predictable or so bonkers it is amazing. Suffice it to say: we thought it was so bonkers it is amazing.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbmFwk8n0f0

(Wow … well, that was certainly stylized. The premise is kind of a western (with alien possession being akin to some Native American burial ground perhaps, or just a Native raid on a mining outpost), and the costumes certainly seem to match at times.)

Directors – John Carpenter – (Known For: Halloween; Halloween; They Live; Escape from New York; Escape from L.A.; Halloween H20: 20 Years Later; The Fog; Prince of Darkness; Halloween III: Season of the Witch; Assault on Precinct 13; Assault on Precinct 13; Eyes of Laura Mars; Dark Star; Future BMT: Halloween: Resurrection; Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers; Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers; Halloween; Lockout; Black Moon Rising; Halloween II; BMT: The Fog; Ghosts of Mars; Notes: One of the most influential horror directors in history. One of my favorite directors. Halloween and The Thing are two great movies to introduce two very different approaches to the genre.)

Writers – Larry Sulkis (written by) – (Future BMT: Village of the Damned; BMT: Ghosts of Mars; Notes: Very likely close to or a production partner with Carpenter at the time, uncredited as a writer of his Village of the Damned as well.)

John Carpenter (written by) – (Known For: Halloween; They Live; Escape from New York; Halloween H20: 20 Years Later; Escape from L.A.; The Fog; Assault on Precinct 13; Halloween III: Season of the Witch; Prince of Darkness; Assault on Precinct 13; Dark Star; Eyes of Laura Mars; Future BMT: Halloween: Resurrection; Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers; Halloween 5; Halloween; Black Moon Rising; Halloween II; BMT: The Fog; Ghosts of Mars; Notes: He wrote a good number of the films he directed back in the day. Notably he also often produced the synth heavy soundtracks. I was in Edinburgh and missed a concert by him by one day. I was very sad.)

Actors – Natasha Henstridge – (Known For: The Whole Nine Yards; Bounce; Future BMT: Maximum Risk; Adrenalin: Fear the Rush; Steal; Deception; Dog Park; BMT: Species II; Ghosts of Mars; The Whole Ten Yards; Species; Notes: Canadian, but started as a model in Paris. Species was her first role in the biz, which makes perfect sense.)

Ice Cube – (Known For: xXx: Return of Xander Cage; 21 Jump Street; Friday; Boyz n the Hood; 22 Jump Street; Three Kings; The Book of Life; Higher Learning; Barbershop; Barbershop: A Fresh Cut; Rampart; Trespass; Barbershop 2: Back in Business; The Longshots; The Glass Shield; Future BMT: First Sunday; Lottery Ticket; Fist Fight; Friday After Next; I Got the Hook Up; All About the Benjamins; Next Friday; Dangerous Ground; The Players Club; BMT: xXx²: State of the Union; Torque; Anaconda; Are We Done Yet?; Are We There Yet?; Ghosts of Mars; Ride Along 2; Ride Along; Notes: Basically a BMT staple at this point, and we got plenty of time to go. Has had an interesting acting career going from mostly thug / gangbanger, to comedy, to kids’ film, and now he tends to be a cop in comedies.)

Pam Grier – (Known For: Mars Attacks!; Jackie Brown; Escape from L.A.; The Man with the Iron Fists; Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey; Above the Law; Foxy Brown; Something Wicked This Way Comes; Beyond the Valley of the Dolls; The Big Bird Cage; Holy Smoke; Class of 1999; Coffy; Just Wright; The Big Doll House; The Package; Fort Apache the Bronx; Original Gangstas; Future BMT: Bones; Fortress 2; Snow Day; Jawbreaker; Larry Crowne; Posse; The Allnighter; In Too Deep; Scream Blacula Scream; BMT: Pluto Nash; Ghosts of Mars; Notes: Insane life. She started in blaxploitation cinema filming in the Philippines where at some point in the 70s she contracted some tropical disease, lost all her hair, and temporarily went blind taking over a year to recover. Then in 1988 she was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given 18 months to live. She survived both. Say what?)

Budget/Gross – $28 million / Domestic: $8,709,640 (Worldwide: $14,010,832)

(Absolute catastrophe! Oh no John Carpenter, why?)

#71 for the Action Heroine genre

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(Ah right there before the peak, that’s definitely fun. Considering the notes indicate Henstridge was basically dying of exhaustion during filming from making so many movies it does seem like it was the time to be a fit female actress in Hollywood. You got to just pick a franchise and run with it for a bit there.)

#43 for the Sci-Fi Horror genre

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(You’d think this would be surging a bit more with the recent Horror surge … especially because sci-fi feels like one of the genres that can benefit from a low budget shoestring approach. We’ve seen quite a few of these at this point. Can’t genre I enjoy the genre much to be honest. Kind of like action comedies … not really good action films, not really good comedies. Sci-fi horror tends to make for a not really good sci-fi film and a not really good horror film.)

#30 for the Zombie genre

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(Right at the forefront of a Zombie resurgence! Rather interesting because this is still the only bad zombie film we’ve done which seems … unbelievable. Although I guess that is mainly because we haven’t done any of the Resident Evil films. Really became a thing around 2015, has since cooled.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 21% (22/104): John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars is not one of Carpenter’s better movies, filled as it is with bad dialogue, bad acting, confusing flashbacks, and scenes that are more campy than scary.

(The flashbacks! That is one of the best parts to be honest. Once you are like 4 layers deep you kind of forget who you are and why you are even watching the film. Reviewer Highlight: Someday we’re all going to look back on this one and l-a-a-a-augh. – Cody Clark, Mr. Showbiz)

Poster – BANANANANANANANAS! (D)

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(I really really really wanted to like this poster but I have several problems with it. It looks cheap and dumb. The color scheme is both obvious (red is for Mars, black is for spoooooky) and poorly done. The alien guy looks silly. He wouldn’t look that silly, but they you notice his multiple finger piercings and you are like “that looks silly”. I desperately want to think any part of this is cool, but it isn’t. The font is maybe okay, the gradient is tough to replicate exactly on the fly.)

Tagline(s) – It’s their planet… we are the aliens. (B-)

(I like the idea of it, but it just doesn’t roll of the tongue as much as it needs to to get it a better score. Kind of obvious, but with the poster above I think it works enough, like you see the weird looking guy and you know it is kind of talking about him / them / it specifically.)

Keyword(s) – martian; Top Ten by BMeTric: 70.0 Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964); 67.2 Ghosts of Mars (2001); 61.0 Doom (2005); 51.4 My Favorite Martian (1999); 45.9 Mars Needs Moms (2011); 39.4 Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003); 26.8 Contamination (1980); 26.3 Spaced Invaders (1990); 26.2 Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991); 24.7 Mars Attacks! (1996);

(I’m kind of shocked at how few of these we’ve done. I bet we could get a lot more done. Maybe with a stellar cycle … would have to think of how best to do something like that though.)

Notes – John Carpenter revealed that he had become burnt out after he had made this film and made the decision of leaving Hollywood for good. It would not be until nine years later that he made a full feature film, which was The Ward (2010).

Filmed entirely at night.

The prosthetics that the main bad guy wears were rather too large for his mouth and resulted in most of the “ghost-speak” having only the “a” vowel sound. (kind of like him sounding like he’s saying banananananans the entire time? … yeah I might have noticed that a bit)

Much of the location shooting was done on a gypsum mine near Albuquerque, New Mexico. The gypsum, which is almost pure white, was sprayed with a biodegradable red food dye to give the appearance of a Martian landscape. (Oh they didn’t create a giant biohazard by spraying it with blood?)

Jason Statham was originally hired to play James “Desolation” Williams, but was replaced by Ice Cube for star power.

Natasha Henstridge replaced Courtney Love (the original choice) at the last minute. Love left the project after her boyfriend’s ex-wife ran over her foot in her car while she was in training for the picture. Michelle Yeoh, Franka Potente and Famke Janssen were briefly considered. Henstridge was suggested by her then-boyfriend Liam Waite, and was able to join the cast just a week before production began. The actress found the experience to be very harrowing, due to the heavily physical nature of her role and the difficult working conditions.

In a 2006 interview, Ice Cube nominated this as the worst movie he had appeared in, calling it “unwatchable in many ways. John Carpenter really let us down with the special effects on that one – it looked like something out of a film from 1979”.

This film contains Jason Statham’s first ever on-screen kiss.

Production had to shut down for a week when Natasha Henstridge fell ill due to extreme exhaustion (she had just done two other films back-to-back before joining the production at the last moment).

For the film’s score, music producer Bruce Robb brought in famed heavy metal band Anthrax to play to picture for director John Carpenter, who had originally filmed the movie listening to Metallica. The film’s score is entirely original and was recorded by Robb at his Cherokee Studios in Hollywood. The film’s DVD offers a bonus feature with behind-the-scenes footage in the studio with the musicians, Carpenter and Robb.

The narrator on the trailer is Keith David.

The film is considered to be a futuristic remake of John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 (1976). (Eh makes sense I guess. I’ve seen the original Assault on Precinct 13, very grindhouse style which is good and bad I think)

Originally called Escape from Earth, a supposed sequel to Escape from L.A. (1996) that features Kurt Russell as Snake Plisskin before changing its script due to box office failure.

For the film’s soundtrack, director and composer John Carpenter called upon various rock musicans to help enhance his own score. They include members of Anthrax, Steve Vai, Guns N’ Roses’ guitarists Buckethead and Robin Finck and Elliot Easton (formerly of The Cars).

The film takes place in 2176.

Miss Congeniality 2 Armed and Fabulous Preview

Very disappointing week in the world of BMT. I fully expected to be announcing the first BMT Live! of the year as xXx: The Return of Xander Cage was released. Alas. Somehow it was able to garner 42% on RT due to a plethora of “Good for what it is” type reviews. Fuck that. Sigh. Instead we’ll wait on some other obvious choices later this month and move right onto the Girls Night Out. Only two real options for the category: Sex and the City 2 or Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous. Patrick hasn’t gotten through the entire series of Sex and the City in prep for the film (unfortunately that is not a joke) so we are going for Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous. I’m actually excited about that. Great title. Let’s go!

Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous (2005) – BMeTric: 61.3

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(This is the greatest 2011 inflection ever. I think it is because you literally see it go from 0 votes to 53,000 (the first data point has 71 votes!). That is why the rating fluctuates so much in the beginning too, it was just shit on by those 71 people, and then it jumped immediately to 6.0 (early fans of the original), and then is faded to where it belonged. This is a very “sustained excellence” plot, which I think means this is going to be a classic. Nary a regression to the mean to be seen and high 4 / low 5 is genuinely terrible for IMDb. Getting excited.)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars –  Bullock returns as FBI agent Gracie Hart, for public relations purposes, becomes the “face of the FBI.” When Burns and Shatner are kidnapped, the bureau’s beauty and her bodyguard (King) abandon PR duties and try to find the hostages. Forced (and redundant) sequel has only a couple of bright moments and never hits a comedic stride. Several celebrities have bit parts.

(You finished writing your novel yet, Leonard? That last statement is real vague. Just some celebrities popping in… to let you know.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZZ-rWnoGbk

(Jesus Christ. So let’s go through a few things. (1) Benjamin Bratt is removed from the sequel with an off screen phone call. (2) Cameo by at least Regis. (3) The audacity to claim that all of a sudden Bullock’s character is some undercover wonder. (4) Set in Las Vegas. Roll all that up together with that fact that literally everything good from the original (Bratt and Caine at least a little bit) just are no longer there and this is a recipe for disaster. I’m excited.)

Directors – John Pasquin – (Known For: The Santa Clause; BMT: Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous; Jungle 2 Jungle; Joe Somebody; Notes: Basically Tim Allen’s personal director. He even directs and co-produces Allen’s current show Last Man Standing.)

Writers – Marc Lawrence (characters & written by) – (Known For: Miss Congeniality; Music and Lyrics; Two Weeks Notice; The Rewrite; Forces of Nature; BMT: Did You Hear About the Morgans?; Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous; The Out-of-Towners; Life with Mikey; Notes: And this guy’s like the personal writer for Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant. He wrote 4 Bullock films and 4 Hugh Grant films, including one (Two Weeks Notice) where they both appear. Weird. Nominated for an Emmy for producing Family Ties.)

Katie Ford (characters) – (Known For: Miss Congeniality; BMT: Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous; Notes: Wrote on Family Ties with Lawrence. Mostly has written for TV. Only feature is Miss Congeniality with a character credit on the sequel.)

Caryn Lucas (characters) – (Known For: Miss Congeniality; BMT: Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous; Notes: Wrote with Lawrence on a short lived sitcom Pride & Joy. Jesus, this guy must be the king of the Rolodex. Pulling out his contacts to make all these films and shows.)

Actors – Sandra Bullock – (Known For: Gravity; Crash; The Proposal; Minions; A Time to Kill; Miss Congeniality; Speed; The Heat; Demolition Man; The Prince of Egypt; Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close; Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood; While You Were Sleeping; Two Weeks Notice; The Vanishing; Infamous; Forces of Nature; The Thing Called Love; Wrestling Ernest Hemingway; Lisa Picard Is Famous; BMT: Speed 2: Cruise Control; All About Steve; Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous; The Net; Premonition; Love Potion No. 9; Stolen Hearts; 28 Days; Hope Floats; Murder by Numbers; Gun Shy; Practical Magic; Our Brand Is Crisis; Loverboy; In Love and War; The Lake House; Notes:  Won the Razzie Award in 2010 for Worst Actress and Worst Screen Couple for All About Steve; Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1998 for Worst Actress for Speed 2: Cruise Control; Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1998 for Worst Screen Couple for Speed 2: Cruise Control; Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1994 for Worst Supporting Actress for Demolition Man. Won an Oscar for The Blind Side and nominated for Gravity. My favorite fun fact about her is that she was once engaged to Tate Donovan.)

Regina King – (Known For: Friday; Jerry Maguire; Boyz n the Hood; Enemy of the State; Ray; Mighty Joe; Planes: Fire & Rescue; Higher Learning; The Ant Bully; This Christmas; How Stella Got Her Groove Back; Year of the Dog; BMT: Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde; Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous; Daddy Day Care; Down to Earth; Our Family Wedding; A Cinderella Story; Poetic Justice; A Thin Line Between Love and Hate; Notes: Won a couple Emmy’s recently for her role on American Crime.)

William Shatner – (Known For: Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story; Miss Congeniality; Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan; Star Trek III: The Search for Spock; Star Trek: The Motion Picture; Over the Hedge; Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country; Judgement at Nuremberg; Star Trek: Generations; Osmosis Jones; Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home; Airplane II: The Sequel; A Christmas Horror Story; Kingdom of the Spiders; Big Bad Mama; Incubus; Free Enterprise; BMT: Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous; Star Trek V: The Final Frontier; Showtime; The Wild; The Devil’s Rain; Escape from Planet Earth; Loaded Weapon 1; Notes:  Won the Razzie Award in 1990 for Worst Actor, and Director for Star Trek V: The Final Frontier; Nominated for the Razzie Award in 2000 for Worst Actor of the Century; Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1995 for Worst Supporting Actor for Star Trek: Generations; Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1990 for Worst Screenplay for Star Trek V: The Final Frontier; His daughter Lisbeth was Miss Golden Globes. Classic fun fact.)

Budget/Gross – $60 million / Domestic: $48,478,006 (Worldwide: $101,393,569)

(That … actually doesn’t seem that bad. But dropping from a $100 million dollar comedy to about half of what it raked in a few years earlier obviously meant the end to the franchise. And the end to Bullock’s romantic comedy career for a bit. She would come back with the one-two punch of the very successful The Proposal in the same year as the widely panned (BMT) All About Steve.)

#35 for the Action Heroine genre

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(Near future BMT Resident Evil Extinction, which makes sense. We last saw this during the Hall of Fame preview for Street Fighter Legend of Chun Li. This film did substantially better and really came right before the genre collapsed. Since then it has clawed its way back very successfully. This plot doesn’t count Rogue One so it’ll continue to grow as well.)

#14 for the Cinderella Complex genre

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(Ooooo right near BMT favorite The Prince and Me. Such an odd genre. And I’m sensing a trend, this also collapsed right around 2005. I think 2005 was a point in time: a point when the studios realized if they were just a tiny bit more careful they could just print money. So they relegated this to straight-to-DVD Disney affairs (I assume).)

#62 for the Comedy – Sequel (Live Action) genre

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(So … We finally discovered the root of the sequel collapse. Hollywood wasn’t replenishing their comedy coffers, they literally just couldn’t function for a bit between 2005 and 2010. That year basically marks a collapse across the board in certain “bad movie genres” as they hibernated and started to mull on the next big hit. 2008 was Iron Man, so they didn’t have to wait too long. But Miss Congeniality 2 Armed and Fabulous seems like something special. It sat on the edge of the abyss and dared people to look at it, see what our hubris wrought as critics whispered “The horror! The horror!”.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 15% (22/145): Sandra Bullock is still as appealing as ever; too bad the movie is not pageant material.

(Blech, “pageant material,” RT? That’s the best you can do? If this came out this year I bet it would get a 42% and everyone would just say “It’s dumb as a box of hair, but it delivers on what it promises.” God, I’m just so angry about xXx: The Return of Xander Cage.)

Poster – Miss Congeniality 2 Armed and Sklogulous (D-)

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(Violates everything I hold dear: too much white, weird framing, no dominant coloring, and (worst of all) no tagline! Only thing it does OK is have a fairly unique font. Would be hard to spoof.)

Tagline(s) – None! (F-)

(I need to collect together all the films that don’t have a tagline on their poster and start a letter writing campaign to shame the producers. Unacceptable behaviour and we don’t have to stand for it. Theory: Some producer thought the tagline Armed and Fabulous was so good that it needed to be a subtitle.)

Keyword(s) – female protagonist; Top Ten by BMeTric: 89.6 Catwoman (2004); 85.0 Date Movie (2006); 84.7 Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997); 80.5 The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009); 79.5 Crossroads (I) (2002); 78.6 Sex and the City 2 (2010); 78.5 BloodRayne (2005); 78.3 Ultraviolet (2006); 76.7 Spice World (1997); 73.1 Hannah Montana: The Movie (2009);

(Phew, I thought Bullock was going to go for a two-fer with Miss Congeniality 2 sneaking in at the end. Catwoman is incredible, and honestly this is a really fun list. Imagine watching those ten movies in a row! I’m in, let’s do it.)

Notes – Eileen Brennan, who plays Stan Fields’ mom, is actually a year younger than William Shatner, who plays Stan Fields. He was born in 1931, she was born in 1932. (wot?)

In Miss Congeniality (2000), there was supposed to be a storyline where Gracie Hart’s mother was killed in the line of duty. The storyline was included in this sequel.

A Miss Congeniality (2000) poster can be seen in the background at the Las Vegas airport during the scene where Gracie is supposed to be flying back to New York. (wot?)

An entirely different sequence was filmed wherein the limo driver was portrayed by Jeffrey Tambor. (That fact is fun!)

The “Las Vegas FBI HQ” building used in the film is actually the Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse located in Downtown Las Vegas.