22 October 2005 | wierzbowskisteedman
Almost a quarter of a century since The Thing, and still people don't get Carpenter.
Firstly, if I see another review labelling Ghosts of Mars, Vampires or Escape from L.A 'Carpenter attempting to have another hit movie' my head will explode like Snake Plissken's would have done. Hello people: CARPENTER HAS NEVER HAD A HIT MOVIE! Besides maybe Halloween, Starman, Christine and Escape from New York to a lesser extent, Carpenter has made bomb after bomb. Certainly the films that have the biggest following today; The Thing, Big Trouble in Little China, They Live, they all were torn apart on release. So, surprise surprise everyone hates Ghost of Mars like they did The Thing. Now, I am in no way comparing Ghosts to The Thing, which is an vastly superior film. But Ghosts is in the same position; as it will be in fifteen years time when people will look back on it and say 'Maybe it wasn't that bad.' WHICH IT ISN'T. What elements in this film aren't Carpenter? The western atmosphere? The focus on action and story, and not character? Vast hoards of nameless enemies? These were all in Assault on Precinct 13. Oh wait, no one liked that in 1976 because they were so brain dead they had to wait for a cult following to develop before they gave it a second chance. So it must be the structure. Is the structure, with it's flashbacks-within-flashbacks and weird editing any more bizarre than the corkscrew science behind 'Prince of Darkness'? Oh that's right, everyone hated that in 1987. So I'm looking for the faults
. That's it, the action isn't very good. Oh damn, it wasn't very good in 'Big Trouble in Little China' either. Wait, didn't it take people fifteen years to 'get' that film as well? Maybe it's the fact that it has Ice Cube in the lead. Yeah, Carpenter defiantly shouldn't have let a non-actor take the lead
oh wait, Roddy Piper! If 'They Live' was made in 2001 that would be bashed for having an non-actor carrying it, but for some reason because it was made in 1988 (blasted on release) Roddy Piper's performance is the stuff of cult legend.
All said and complained about, if Ghosts of Mars was released in 1987 or something it wouldn't be getting bashed now. Hell, Jason Statham might have been the new Kurt Russell. There's plenty of fun to be had here, and Carpenter certainly hasn't 'lost his vision' as a lot of the so-called fans who are stuck somewhere around 1982 claim. If anything, with Ghosts of Mars and it's OTT structure, Carpenter is developing on it.
Maybe it's just me, but I can't understand how someone can hate Ghost of Mars and have unconditional love for Assault on Precinct 13. Give Ghosts another go, and watch it with an open mind. If you can't at least do that, you are not a fan of John Carpenter.