[[quoteright:295:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ghosts_of_mars.jpg]]

''Ghosts of Mars'' is a 2001 sci-fi/action/horror film directed by Creator/JohnCarpenter.

It's 2176 and UsefulNotes/{{Mars}} has been [[{{Terraform}} terraformed]] to have a breathable atmosphere by some [[LadyLand matriarchal]] mining corporation. A crack-squad of SpacePolice consisting of Melanie Ballard (NatashaHenstridge), Jericho Butler (Creator/JasonStatham), Bashira Kincaid (Clea Duvall) and Helena Braddock (Creator/PamGrier) is sent to reallocate notorious criminal James "Desolation" Williams (Music/IceCube), only to discover that half the colony has been [[DemonicPossession possessed]] by the spirits of the alien race that used to inhabit Mars [[SealedEvilInACan which were released via a scientific excavation]], causing them to transform into a clan of sadomasochistic self-mutilating punk savages that look as if they're auditioning as extras for ''TheRoadWarrior'' and which murdered the other half. The rest of the movie is spent fighting them off.

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!!This film provides examples of:

* ActionGirl: Melanie Ballard and Bashira Kincaid
* ArtisticLicenseNuclearPhysics: An exploding nuclear reactor.
* AwesomeMcCoolname: "Desolation" Williams, Jericho.
* {{Angrish}}: Possessed humans speak exclusively in this.
* {{Badass}}: "Desolation" Williams.
* BeautyIsNeverTarnished: Melanie escapes with only some "superficial injuries", consisting of one tiny scratch on her neck.
* BigBad: Big Daddy Mars.
* BlackDudeDiesFirst: A triple-header. Braddock is black, a woman ''and'' a lesbian.
* ButchLesbian: Helena.
* ChekhovsSkill: [[AwesomeMcCoolname Jericho]] has almost preternatural skill with locks. This comes in handy when the team has to [[spoiler: break into the nuclear power plant and blow it up]] at the climax.
* DemonicPossession: Which makes killing the crazy people a bad idea. Not only will the evil spirit possessing them escape -- it might relocate into ''you''.
* DeadpanSnarker: After the inquest, the head woman says "Is our statement to the cartel going to be that Mars is being overrun by ghosts?" She rolls her eyes so hard they almost get stuck.
* DevelopingDoomedCharacters: All but [[spoiler: two]] of the main characters are dead before [[InMediasRes the movie even begins]].
* DownerEnding: Though it's played in a lighthearted way, the end is pretty bleak [[FridgeHorror if you think about it]]: [[spoiler: the wave of possessions has reached the capitol city of Chryse and the police are called up to fight them]]. In all the excitement of going to war, everyone seems to have forgotten that there's no effective way of fighting the ghosts or even slowing them down for long, aside from illegal drugs which aren't likely to be in adequate supply.
* DrugsAreBad: Subverted; the fact that she's taking [[FantasticDrug "clear"]] (and was given a dose immediately after being infected) allows Mel to fight off the alien spirit possessing her. Played straight with Dos, who gets high off a nitrous-oxide breather and chops his thumb off.
* FetishFuelFuture: While it's not explored in detail, a [[HellBentForLeather black leather-clad]] LadyLand where [[GirlOnGirlIsHot hot girl-on-girl action]] is implied to be a prominent form of career advancement certainly qualifies.
* {{Fingore}}: Dos amputates his own thumb while trying to make a food can grenade. That'll teach him to do drugs and precision work at the same time. Desolation laughs at him for being a dumbass.
* ForegoneConclusion: The beginning of the movie shows the train arriving back at the capital [[spoiler: and Melanie is the only passenger on board, foreshadowing that she's the only perceived survivor of the mission.]]
* GhostTown [[TownWithADarkSecret With A Dark Secret]]: The mining town.
* {{Gorn}}: Filmed in patented Decapi-Tatio-Vision.
* GunsAkimbo: Apparently in the future, everyone will be ambidextrous and walleyed.
* HeroicSacrifice: The guy who locked himself in a truck after being possessed by a Martian kills himself when it becomes clear Melanie isn't going to stop trying to free him. A rather unusual case for the film, as every other case of Martian possession causes the victim to be incapacitated (usually in a trance-like state) until they're either converted or expel the Martian. His choice of venue also has the added effect of trapping the Martian ghost in an airtight container.
* HotBlooded: The Martian leader.
* InMediasRes: The film is a recount of events told by Melanie Ballard, which also jumps back to previously seen events to show them from another perspective, to emulate her recollection of events.
* InvincibleVillain: The titular ghosts are just that - intangible ghosts who [[DemonicPossession possess humans]] to interact with the world. The spirits can't be killed by any known means (they even tried a [[NukeEm nuclear detonation]], which did nothing), which means that if their host is destroyed [[BodySurf they'll just move on to the next body]]. The movie dances around this issue by setting up the all-out battle to occur after the story's events, but it's impossible to maintain any hope for the surviving characters because victory is ultimately impossible. Then again, Melanie shows us that getting the entire planet high as balls might do the trick. There's also a certain percent of the population that's naturally immune, so attrition might work, too.
* ItsTheOnlyWayToBeSure: The team decides that the only way to deal with the plague of possessions is to blow up the nuclear power plant and destroy the town. [[spoiler: This doesn't go as planned.]]
* LadyLand: The human society on Mars is explicitly stated to be a matriarchy, and women are primarily seen in powerful positions. Doesn't stop the men from acting like machos, though.
** Presumably the men are CompensatingForSomething.
* LargeHam: The leader of the punk savages, "Big Daddy Mars."
* LeeroyJenkins: Williams charges headlong with both guns blazing into the crowd of punk savages, resulting in the first truly big shootout of the movie. "Come on, you mindless motherfuckers!"
* UsefulNotes/{{Mars}}: It's right in the title.
* {{Matriarchy}}: Specifically of the "Sexy Matriarchy" variant, which describes the matriarchal society of human colonists in the movie pretty well. While women hold the majority of power, it's mostly a [[HellBentForLeather leather-clad]] FetishFuelFuture with dominant lesbian leader figures, and women sleeping their way to the top by getting it on with their superiors is seen as expected. The men are still machos, though.
* NighInvulnerability: The Martian aliens are body-hopping spirits. Their only real weakness is that their hosts can be destroyed, stopping them at least temporarily. Some people are naturally immune, and drug use seems to stop them from successfully possessing a host.
* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed: Big Daddy Mars looks a lot like [[Music/MarilynManson Mairlyn Manson]].
* NotAfraidToDie: The preferred method for characters in this movie to short circuit a showdown and demonstrate their own badassery.
--> '''Melanie''': [When Desolation is pointing a shotgun at her] Kill me!
--> '''Desolation Williams:''' [When Melanie is pointing a gun at him] What you gonna do? Fucking shoot me.
* NukeEm: The heroes resolve to dispatch the punk savages by blowing up the local nuclear power plant.
* OffWithHisHead: One of the punks' favorite methods of killing is by decapitation, especially using sharp metal frisbees.
* TheOmniscientCouncilOfVagueness: The Matronage.
* OurGhostsAreDifferent: The Martians exist as an indestructible cloud of red gas which can possess most humans. Once possessed, the humans either don't feel pain or are simply badass enough not to care, as they ritually scar themselves before going on a killing spree against the new occupants of the planet.
* [[ProudWarriorRaceGuy Proud Warrior Race Guys]]: From Melanie's hallucination, it looks as if the extinct aliens were this.
* RuleOfCool: What the movie was clearly aiming for.
* SassyBlackWoman: Helena (Pam Grier, of course).
* ScaryBlackMan: James 'Desolation' Williams played by Ice Cube, also his brother Uno.
* SciFiWritersHaveNoSenseOfScale: The reactor meltdown is stated to take out a mile or two. The resulting explosion is easily visible from space.
* ScreamingWarrior: Big Daddy Mars, the martian leader. A LOT.
* SealedEvilInACan: The Martian spirits.
* ShoutOut: When Braddock shouts "Who goes there?", it's a reference to [[Literature/WhoGoesThere a short story with that title]] by Creator/JohnWCampbell, which has been made into a film twice, once by John Carpenter as ''Film/TheThing1982''.
* SkewedPriorities: The team is trapped in a ghost town filled with AxCrazy possessed humans and, for the moment, they're reasonably well-fortified in the local police station. So naturally, Jericho decides that now is as good a time as any to see if he can seduce Melanie (if one could charitably call it seduction) by leading her to a closet where they won't be interrupted. Surprisingly, this would have worked had Kincaid not gotten trigger-happy at that exact moment.
* SpacePolice: Most of the main characters have this occupation.
* TooDumbToLive: The team had a possessed man safely locked up in a jail cell. Bashira Kincaid decides to shoot him through the bars because "Fuck him, whatever the fuck he is". She does this despite the fact that it has already been established that killing the possessed only frees the possessing entity, rather than destroying it, thus allowing this particular one to [[spoiler: temporarily possess Melanie]].
* TraintopBattle: The finale.
* UnreliableVoiceover: Melanie isn't entirely honest in her recollection of events, understandably so since she's a drug addict and at an inquest concerning the fact that she failed to do her job properly. Most of what she says is true but she lied about being asleep when [[spoiler: Desolation Williams made his escape]]. She also omits her drug use consistently.
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