From the Asylum, those prolific purveyors of such schlocky cinematic ineptitude as Transmorphers, Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, 30,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Snakes on a Train and many, many more steaming piles of crap, comes yet another rip-off of a similarly titled movie. Marketed as “the classic story that inspired James Cameron’s Avatar,” Asylum’s Princess of Mars managed to be a pre-emptive rip-off of John Carter, the epic box office failure of 2012. I still haven’t seen John Carter, but I have seen Princess of Mars, even though I wish I could forget it.
Based on the pulp tales of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Mars series, Princess of Mars stars Antonio Sabato, Jr. as John Carter, a green beret transported to the distant planet of Mars/Barsoom. There he meets second-rate actors wearing poorly made masks, designed to look like Burroughs’s alien tharks done on a budget of about ten dollars. Our hero forms a shaky alliance with Tars Tarkas (one of the poorly made-up aliens), but things become complicated when Carter falls for Dejah Thoris (Traci Lords), the princess of Mars, and sworn enemy of the tharks. Before long, things go from boring and poorly executed to what-sort-of-hack-made-this-garbage, and it becomes clear that waiting two more years for John Carter of Mars is a better bet than spending ninety minutes watching this crap.
Like all the films I’ve seen from the Asylum, Princess of Mars is bad from start to finish, taking a few moments every now and then to really mine the depths of pure, unmitigated crapitude. Mark Atkins’s remedial direction is only rivaled by his script, which displays all the intelligence of a baby deprived of oxygen in the womb. Antonio Sabato, Jr. conveys all the charisma of Lorenzo Lamas on a low budget, while Traci Lords looks a bit long in the tooth and short in the talent. I won’t lie, when I was fifteen or sixteen years old, I jerked off to pictures and videos of Traci Lords until my palms grew hair. She was one of my favorite porn stars; but then she turned out to be underage, everything with her naked in it became illegal, and I was forced to try and get off on her acting. Well, it just wasn’t the same.
Princess of Mars is, in every way one could imagine, a bad film. For those who enjoy drinking with their friends while watching bad movies, it may have some entertainment value. But honestly, there are better ways to tax your liver and your brain.