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DVD Review

DVD cover

It Came from the Desert


Starring: Vanessa Grasse, Mark Arnold and Harry Lister Smith
Distributor: Thunderbird Releasing
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 25 June 2018

Brian and his friend Lukos travel to the New Mexico desert for a party at which they will get to meet their B-Movie action hero. Brian’s dream girl is there, but he doesn’t believe he has a chance. When he despondently wanders off, Lukos finds him and the two friends happen across a cave which leads into an abandoned research facility for military application. They are shocked, to say the least, to be attacked by a giant ant, and are embarrassingly saved by the girl Lisa. This ant, it turns out, is just one of many. They need ethanol in order to breed, and the nearby party has it in abundance: alcohol. Ants can lay hundreds of eggs at a time. Our heroes know they can’t allow them to hatch and spread further afield. Three people against a colony of giant ants is not exactly a fair fight. But Brian isn’t known as the brainy geek for nothing, and he has a crazy plan that might just work...

It seems that an asteroid hit this region during the 1950s. Alien DNA was discovered and mixed with that of ants and spiders. Why this would make them giant-sized is anyone’s guess – although it is in keeping with the myriad giant creature flicks from that time of uncertainty.

This is effectively a modern-made 1950s Monster B-Movie. In fact, the story is based on the premise of a 1980s video game, but to all intents and purposes it’s a homage to those classic and so-bad-they’re-good black and white low budget science fiction movies of the atomic age. Our reluctant heroes learn that the research centre’s experiments were called Project: Them! There’s no more tribute they could have paid than to give a big nod to the excellent giant ants movie of the 1950s. In that long gone era these genre films were played straight, which makes the mistakes in many of them so funny. I love those films, but how does a contemporary version compare? Films such as this one and Big Ass Spider, for example, purposefully inject humour from the start, so they are not taken seriously and ridiculed. So it’s like a tribute to those films such as Them! and it’s ilk, but at the same time it’s saying "we know you might think this film is rubbish, so we’re getting in first and sending it up before you do."

What makes this work is the fact the humour comes entirely through the dialogue, and in particular the main character’s reactions to events and each other. This is very difficult to get right without coming across as being really silly. The humour for me is spot on, natural, and seems spontaneous. Lukos’ first terrified reaction to seeing a giant ant is, "This is straight up Jurassic Park shit!" Another good example is when the two friends are looking for weapons. One comes up with a spatula, the other a frying pan – inducing the exchange: "What are you going to do with that? Swat it to death?!" "What are you going to do with that? Cook it breakfast?!" As the first of the ants reaches the party, prior to the massacre, a clearly inebriated guy greets it with, "Squirrel dudes, I come in peace!"

The action hero film clip that Brian is watching at the beginning is purposefully made to look particularly cheap and wooden and that, of course, makes it amusing. The B-Movie hero they are supposed to meet at the party, turns up at the end trying to look cool. I’m sure you can guess his reaction as soon as he sees an ant. Are they basing this character on Bruce Campbell, and in particular My Name Is Bruce?

Curiously, It Came From the Desert was filmed in Spain and Finland. Director Marko Makilaakso has achieved something a little special here. It’s a load of old nonsense, but it’s a thoroughly enjoyable load of old nonsense. The only thing that lets down this release is the lack of substantial extra features. There is only a Special FX Comparison. However, you still need this fun film in your collection.


Ty Power

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