Review: IT CAME FROM THE DESERT (2017)

IT CAME FROM THE DESERT

Movies adapted from computer and video games are pretty commonplace. But when a movie is based on a game older than most of its cast that’s news. IT CAME FROM THE DESERT is based on a game developed for the Amiga computer system in the late 80’s and ported to other systems over the years. Based on the B movies of the 50s it’s only fitting the game has now become a low budget film itself.

Dirt bike racer Lukas (Alex Mills) and his mechanic Brian(Harry Lister Smith) head out to the desert for a weekend of racing and partying. Lukas is also trying to get his shy buddy to work up the nerve to approach Lisa (Vanessa Grasse LEATHERFACE). Wandering away from the party they find an abandoned facility. We know why it’s abandoned thanks to the film’s prologue, and soon so do they as a giant ant is stalking them. Rescued by an ax-wielding Lisa they need to escape and destroy the colony before they can spread.

IT CAME FROM THE DESERT is a fun send-up of creature features. Mad scientists, alien DNA, ant/tarantula hybrids are all part of the mix. There are nods to films ranging from THEM! (of course), to RAWHEAD REX and most are nicely worked into the film, not plot stopping wink and nod moments. The same goes for video games, especially the scene where our heroes “power up” with some prototype weapons.

The film’s effects are mostly quite good given it’s lowish, $1,000,000 budget. The CGI for the ants is fairly good and the practical gore effects work. There are some obvious moments of screen work and very obviously animated mini-gun fire, but I think they were meant to resemble the films that inspired IT CAME FROM THE DESERT.

Director Marko Mäkilaakso (WAR OF THE DEAD), who co-wrote the film with Hank Woon Jr. (ATLANTIC RIM, AGE OF DINOSAURS) and, surprisingly, Trent Haaga (AMERICAN MUSCLE, DEADGIRL) obviously has a fondness for the material. He sends it all up in a fun way, never mocking or looking down at the subject matter. And it’s never heavy-handed or as stupid as the SHARKNADO films. This is a spoof done right.

Already in release in some parts of the world, IT CAME FROM THE DESERT will be released by Raven Banner Entertainment on DVD and Blu Ray in Canada on May 29th with a VOD release to follow. The US gets it on VOD the 29th via The Orchard with DVD release to follow. You can look for more dates on the film’s Facebook page.

Jim Morazzini

Movie buff, gym rat and crazy cat guy