Ghosts of Mars: Neil Jacobs
May 17, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

”The title is kind of self explanatory, don’t you think?” says Carpenter of his reported $30 million thriller. ”It’s a ghost story on Mars.” The year is 2176, and the planet has been colonized with unruly frontier towns. Henstridge (”Species”) is the law, Ice Cube (”Next Friday”) is an outlaw, but they team up when the planet’s warrior spirits come back to reclaim it.

After Courtney Love dropped out of the starring role, Henstridge signed on just one week before shooting commenced. Though that didn’t give her much time to train for the movie’s rigorous fight scenes, Henstridge ain’t complaining. ”A lead in a big film is always nice,” she says. ”Luckily, I’m pretty athletic. I can definitely knock someone out.” Still, the circumstances surrounding Love’s departure are unclear; the official line has her sustaining an ankle injury while training for the part. True? ”I’m sorry,” says Carpenter, ”but I can’t talk about that.”

But he will talk about how his Mars exteriors were shot at a 55 acre gypsum mine in New Mexico, where the powdery white ground had to be dyed red every day, and about how the fighting in his film eschews those trendy ”Matrix” moves. ”There wasn’t a lot of flying around at the Alamo,” says Carpenter.

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