It Came from the Desert review: A group of partying motocross riders find themselves fighting for their lives against giant ants in this charming modern b-movie.
It Came from the Desert review by Kat Hughes.
The 1950’s were a fantastic time for the science-fiction horror genre. The hybrid films took the world by storm and really captured the imaginations of their viewers. Now looking back, a lot of these features had wacky and slightly insane stories, but they were fun. Today, thanks in part to a desperate need to make mega-money and please everyone and his dog, these tales have pretty much been confined solely to the SyFy channel.
Based on the Amiga game of the same name, It Came From the Desert sets out to encapsulate that 50’s magic. The game was heavily inspired by 1954’s story of giant ants – Them!, and so is the film. A group of motocross competitors go to the desert for a massive party, however they’ve accidentally set up next door to a secret military base that has been experimenting on something sinister. The result of their experiments is a horde of deadly giant ants; a battle between the bikers and bugs ensues.
Usually films of this type tend to lose my full attention a few minutes in. I’ve sat through all of the Sharknado films, but barring maybe the first one, my heart and full brain haven’t been in them. However, with It Came From the Desert, I didn’t switch off once, it managed to capture my attention and it held me in the palm of its hand for the full run time. Make no mistake, this is a silly ‘disengage brain’ film, but it’s not trying to be anything more than that. In fact, director Marko Mäkilaakso appears to play to that. The dialogue is clunky, the effects OTT, and story is basic, but that all works together and somehow becomes charming rather than infuriating.
Helping ramp up the charm are our lead characters Brian (Harry Lister Smith) and Lukas (Alex Mills). They’re the typical odd-friend couple – Lukas is a big name on the motocross circuit, he’s cocky and confident; Brian on the other hand is on the shy side, obsessed with a film series called The Eradicator, and is Lukas’ mechanic. The dynamic between them works though, and their friendship shines through in a Bill and Ted kind of way.
There are some well choreographed motocross sequences throughout. Someone involved in the production is clearly a fan of the sport, as during the first third you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching a movie purely about motocross. It doesn’t take too long though for our supersized ants to arrive, and then things start to get very crazy. Backing up all the on-screen carnage and insanity is a killer soundtrack provided almost exclusively by Finnish hard rock band Santa Cruz. The songs are played loud and proud, in places a little too loud, giving the impression that the movie is actually one long music video, but they fit the tone of the film excellently. The songs are very catchy, I defy anyone to sit through the end credits song River Phoenix and not get it stuck in your head.
Camp, cheesy and oddly charming, It Came From the Desert is a rare modern b-movie that is an absolute viewing pleasure. It’s such an entertaining watch that it should be watched with as big an audience as possible for maximum fun.
It Came from the Desert review by Kat Hughes, October 2017.
It Came from the Desert screened as part of the Horror Channel Frightfest Halloween 2017 programme.