FILM SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL TONIGHT: JOHN CARPENTERS’ GHOSTS OF MARS (2001)

Despite his busy schedule. former Rue Morgue writer and current Fangoria editor Chris Alexander continues to put on his Film School Confidential events at Toronto’s Bloor Cinema. Twice a month, Alexander screens a cult film, often one otherwise critically reviled or underappreciated by both critics and audiences. John Carpenter’s 2001 effort Ghosts of Mars certainly falls into both those categories. Described by Alexander as a “berserk amalgam of 3:10 TO YUMA, RIO BRAVO, Carpenter’s own ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, DAWN OF THE DEAD and PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES,” GOM will get a long overdue critical reappraisal tonight, June 23rd, at The Bloor.

We asked Alexander a bit about his love for the film and his new role at Fangoria:

GOM is one of John Carpenter’s most reviled films critically, yet obviously you love it. Where is the appeal?

GOM came out the wrong time. The turn of the decade and it was all high tech, flash cuts, nameless faceless Hollywood action and brawny, slick genre nonsense. But GOM is vintage Carpenter – a deliberately pulpy, tongue in cheek mash up of 3:10 to YUMA, PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES and Carpenter’s own typical riffs on his favourite film, Howard Hawks’ RIO BRAVO. It has an amusing cast of mismatched actors eating scenery, kicking ass, proto-Goth, masochistic space-villains, TONS of gore, non-stop action, more flashbacks than a ‘Nam vet has, and a relentless, powerful electro-metal score by Carpenter, Steve Vai, Buckethead and Anthrax. Fans didn’t get it then…and the mainstream rejected it as out of date. Which of course it is and that’s why it’s so great. But then again, everyone hated THE THING, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA too when they came out. Nothing ages better than a JC movie….like fine wine laced with peyote.

Ice Cube and director John Carpenter

How did you source a 35MM print for your screening?

I was listening to the score last month and was loving it. Then I popped up the film again to revisit it and just fell in love with it again (I’ve always been a defender of the film). Then talking to Daniel at EYESORE CINEMA about it got my heart pumping…so I said, fuck it, called up Sony Pictures Canada and asked if they had a print. They did! Just sitting there. No one ever rents it…except me, now!

You’ve recently taken over as editor of Fangoria. What have been the biggest challenges of the job?

Challenges? None of any real consequence…just seeing how much personality I can insert into it without it becoming CHRISGORIA, I guess. The print industry – like all media – got punched in the head post-recession, and there’s still some trauma there with the mag that I inherited, but really, it’s a gift from the gods and the peak of my professional life this far.

Cube and Natasha Henstridge

What can we expect from Film School Confidential next?

Next month – a 35mm print of one of my all time cinema obsessions…Tobe Hooper’s 1985, out of control space vampire masterpiece LIFEFORCE!!!

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