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Bad Movie Mayhem: The Last Days on Mars: A Must Miss!

Anyone who’s read more than one of these Bad Movie Reviews knows there’s no real method to my madness when it comes to selecting a movie to tear apart make fun of  thoroughly and thoughtfully review: Sometimes I find a movie, and other times a movie finds me.

Last Days on Mars Cover

So, with that in mind, let me just say up front that I did not go looking for this movie. In fact, when I came across it, I did one of those ‘puppy seeing a butterfly for the first time’ head tilts followed by an audible, ‘Huh.’

Why? Well, two reasons:

  1. This movie isn’t that old (it released in 2013) and yet I’ve never heard of it.
  2. This movie has some big name people in its cast, and yet I’ve still never heard of it.

Reader: I now know why. This movie is NOT GOOD in the worst possible of Not Good ways. In a word, this moving is Dullsville. Borelandia. A vast and empty wasteland with the Sleepy-Bye River flowing through Yawn Canyon at its center. In fact, it’s so boring, it’s inspired me to invent an entirely new genre of moviedom. You’ve watched some sci-fi, you’ve treated yourself to a little sci-fi horror, and now, ladies and gentleman, I present to you the first (and hopefully only) of its kind: sci-fi bore-rror.

How boring, you ask? Well, at one point I walked out of the room thinking the movie was coming to an end (huzzah!), only to return a few minutes later and realize it wasn’t in fact over, at which point I sighed in exasperation and walked out of the room again.

That’s how much I really didn’t care about this movie or its ending.

For those who are interested in such things, Last Days on Mars is just one in a long line of Mars-based sci-fi and sci-fi/horror flicks of varying watchability, including Ghosts of Mars (Ice Cube), Red Planet (Val Kilmer), Mission to Mars (Gary Sinise), and The Martian (Matt Damon) among many others. Believe it or not, Ghost of Mars is probably the best movie in the list—not because it’s actually good, but it’s got enough badness to it to make it entertaining. The others… well, they all try too hard.

*Cue the haters trying to convince me I should’ve liked The Martian*

Also, I should mention that Last Days on Mars is apparently based on a short story, and as a short story, it probably worked. As a movie…not so much. This flick is dead space on top of dead space on top of dead space with several large and extremely glaring plot holes that left me rolling my eyes so hard I blew a blood vessel. In fact, almost the entire plot of the movie hinges on two massive and entirely unbelievable contrivances:

  1. That one scientist out of a crew of eight who spent years training together for this mission—a mission specifically focused on searching for life on Mars—was somehow able to conceal concrete proof of life on Mars from his colleagues and more importantly, willingfully and pointedly did so (for unknown reasons)
  2. That a super fancy and expensive alien planet biopod has zero bio-decontamination capabilities, and the ‘elite crew of scientists’ inhabiting said biopod blithely open the door and welcome a missing (and last known to be dead) colleague in without following said decontamination routine to ensure, say, a zombie fungus didn’t get in and infect everyone else.

Then, of course, there’s the whole claustrophobia thing. Which I won’t get into here since I go on a small rant about it later.

Plot holes aside, this still might have been a decent movie if they hadn’t made all the scientists so stinkin’ dumb. That’s what irks me the most about Last Days on Mars: there’s only one character in the entire cast with a lick of common sense (and who, by the way, probably could’ve prevented all of the fungoid deaths that followed) but they just paint her as a bitchy woman who all the crew hate.


*rolls eyes even harder than before*

The Cast

Live Schreiber (Best known for playing one of the Sabretooths in one of the Marvel movies) as Vincent Campbell: Claustrophobic astronaut.

Elias Koteas (Best known for… probably a room to argue here, but for me it was his role in The Killing as Captain Charles Brunel: Ill-informed about holes, quickly turns into a zombie.

Olivia Williams (Best known for… again, room to argue, but I’m going for her role in Dollhouse) as Kim Aldrich: The only one of these wickedly dumb scientists with any common sense. Because of said common sense, portrayed as a flaming bitch.

Other people who are probably well known but that I don’t know. The cast of this movie is actually pretty small but I didn’t recognize any of the other actors so Imma gonna leave it here. You guys can yell at me later for not knowing who that guy from Downton Abbey is…

Budget & Box Office Info for Last Days on Mars:

  • Release Date: 19 September 2013
  • Budget: $10M*
  • Box Office Sales: $187M Worldwide.*

*I find these numbers to be suspect. $10M isn’t all that much to make a movie and this was not an indie release and based on the horrid reviews, I’m struggling to believe this movie brought in $187M. Then again, what do I know?

Sequels & Crossovers:

Based on the short story The Animators by Sydney J. Bounds. And… that’s it. Phew!

The Story (in a Nutshell) of Last Days on Mars

A group of astronaut explorers succumb one by one to a mysterious and terrifying force while collecting specimens on Mars.

Spoiler Alert: The ‘force’ here is neither mysterious nor terrifying, nor is it, in fact, a force. This is the promo description, not mine. My description would run something on the order of: ‘A group of stupid-ass supposed ‘scientists’ invite fungus-animated zombies into their Mars pod for a spot of tea. Death and boredom ensues.

The Rest of It

Mars. The note-so-distant future…

An eight person, international crew of researchers is in the home stretch of a 6-month stay at the inflatable building compound of Tantalus Base outpost. With a spacecraft inbound and just nineteen hours left before they ditch this red-dead dustball and return to good ‘ol green and blue Earth, this supposedly well-trained and well-educated crew of scientists transforms into a gaggle of blithering idiots.

First up: Marko Petrović ( a ‘scientist’) who finds samples that point to life on the planet but decides he’s doesn’t really feel like telling anyone else because, ya know, go team! So, off he goes to collect more samples from a gigantic hole and promptly falls in and dies.

Later, another ‘scientist’ (Dalby) mysteriously dies while left sitting next to the same death hole AND YET, they STILL send two more idiots, er, I mean really, really smart scientists into Beulah the Dust-Filled People Eater because, heck, why not potentially kill off yet more crew just to retrieve a corpse.

Right. So. Inside Krakawhoah, two things happen: (1) Vincent Campbell gets all claustrophobic and panicky (which he’s already done a couple of times and CONTINUES to do throughout the movie DESPITE THE FACT THEY TEST ASTRONAUTS FOR THIS VERY DAMN THING FOR THIS VERY DAMN REASON, and (2) they discover a ‘fungal organism’.

Claustrophobia aside—it’s not as interesting as they try to make it and does nothing to make me like Campbell’s character any more than I already don’t—the fungus ends up reanimating corpses and soon enough, both Dalby and Petrović reappear at the main outpost for some tea and crumpets. Wait. Scratch that. Brains and neck snacking. After killing crew member Harrington with a power drill (or, more accurately, causing said crew member to kill himself with his own power drill), Zombie Dalby, Zombie Petrović are soon joined by their newest band member, Zombie Harrington, and turn their three-part dead flesh harmony on the rest of the crew. In the scuffle, the crew’s Captain, Brunel, is fatally injured and, you guessed it!, turns zomboid before their very eyes.

For reference, all the zombies look like Skeletor in the pic below. Apparently, one day dead on Mars turns you into Soilent Green jerky.

Still from Last Days on Mars, showing an astronaut without his spacesuit, looking decidedly zombie-ish
Last Days on Mars still

Side note: anyone who has EVER watched anything even CLOSE to a zombie movie knows the only way to deal with a zombie is to lop off the head. Despite that, and the baker’s dozen of PhDs shared between this not-so-crack crew, not one single beheading happens. NOT ONE. As a result, this movie quickly devolves into Keystone Cops levels of stupidity and shenanigans following a repeating (and not very inventive) string of fights and escapes and more fights and more escapes as the scientists alternately lock themselves in and run away from the disappointingly still-headed zombies and their unquenchable desire for brains.

At some point, the three surviving crew (Campbell and two others whose names I couldn’t be bothered to learn) decide it would be a really good idea to hop in their electrically powered rover and trundle on back to that death fissure from which the fungoid-fueled zombie crew sprung. Oh, and the Two Without Names might or might not already be infected with fungus.

Side note 2: I actually kind of like the trundle buggies in Last Days on Mars so here’s a picture of one for no particular reason.

Last Days on Mars: A Mars buggy trekking across the planet
Last Days on Mars Still 2

Side note 3: all of this could’ve been resolved with a stiff dose of Lotrimin but none of these purported ‘scientists’ every thinks of that. Sheesh.

Anyway, at some point, the rover runs out of juice and dies, and while the scientists inside (Campbell and a woman named… Lane? I think? No idea what happened to the other guy. Probably strolled off to commune with the Great Red Rock or something) wait for the sun to rise and recharge it, we are forced to sit through a long and boring philosophical discussion about the human soul and consciousness and whether the zombies are still people and OMG IT’S SO DULL AND JUST TAKE OFF THEIR GODDAMN HEADS SO THIS MOVIE CAN END.

But, not. Instead, Campbell falls asleep and wakes to find Lane (who still may or may not be infected with fungus) has decamped Lassie style to do her zombie turning out in the desert. Fully aware of her intentions, Campbell the Dumbass decides to go after her. Well, Lane decides to show him! Once she realizes stalkerazzi Campbell is after her, she commits suicide by removing her helmet.


Of course, Lane turns zombie after she dies and Campbell finally, FINALLY resorts to bashing her brains in to keep from getting masticated like jerky.

Oh yeah, and that ship’s still coming in to pick them up and there’s like zero time left so Campbell beats feet for the meetup, only to find the zombies beat him there and ate the lander’s crew. No problem, though, that other scientist I lost track of shows up (turns out his name’s Irwin) and apparently knows how to pilot one of these things so it’s off into space for Campbell and his new best friend Irwin.


Irwin’s got the spongy-fungy so it’s off you go, new best friend buckaroo, and after pitching Irwin out the airlock, Campbell continues on to the spaceship alone.

And in one of the WORST ENDINGS EVER, Campbell sends a message to mission control that says the following: (1) he does not have enough fuel for a rendezvous (I forget why and really don’t care at this point, (2) BUT, he has enough supplies onboard to last him a few months if they want to launch a rescue, (3) FURTHER BUT, it might not be advisable to rescue him because he might be infected, and (4) LAST BUT, he has just enough fuel for re-entry and a fast death if he is , in fact, infected and/or they can’t be bothered to come get him. Apparently, it takes 15 minutes from the time of transmission for a response to come back, so Campbell just sits there, floating in space while he waits for mission control’s response.


Final Thoughts

I stared at the screen for a while trying to come up with some saving grace to offer, or some profound insight that gives this movie value and meaning. Yeah, I got nuthin’. Instead, I’ll just note this quote from that font of all movie knowledge, Rotten Tomatoes, which sums this movie up nicely:

Neither intelligent enough to work as thought-provoking sci-fi nor trashy enough to provide B-movie thrills, The Last Days on Mars proves as cinematically barren as the titular planet.

Overall Rating of Last Days on Mars:

  • Bad Moving Rating: 1 (out of 5)
  • Regular Movie Rating: 1 (out of 5)
Published inBad Movie Mayhem

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