One of the most baffling video game to movie adaptions ever, It Came From the Desert is based off the 1989 action-adventure game of the same name developed and published by Cinemaware.
The game was inspired by many of the classic B-movies from the 1950s in particular 1954’s Them! It mixed visual-novel adventure style gameplay with action events and mini-games. A fun game but rarely talked about as any kind of important landmark in video game history.
Based very loosely on the game, It Came From the Desert tries to be a sci-if/horror comedy mash-up and only falls flat on occasion. Not through a lack of effort though. Director Marko Mäkilaakso knows what he has here and makes sure the whole silliness of it comes through. It has a certain charm about it.
The movie follows ‘odd-couple’ Brian (Harry Lister Smith) and Lukas (Alex Mills). You know how it goes, Brian is awkward and shy especially around the girl he likes while Lukas is the opposite as well as being a bit of a star in the motocross circuit. They seem to be complete opposites but they both seem to care about each other and both love a sci-fi film series called The Eradicator.
It’s the star of the film’s appearance at a remote Desert party that sees Brian and Lukas jump in their truck and head off to the event. There they run into their rivals but that is the least of their worries.
You see the party just happens to be a stones throw away from a experimental research facility deep underground. Just what was going on down there? Experiments on ants turning them into huge and deadly creatures. It’s not long before the ants break out after Brain and Lukas explore the facility and head straight for the party!
Playing to its strengths, namely its two lead characters, It Came From the Desert avoids being the expected over the top cheesy flick. It has its fair share of silly moments but the focus is often on Brain and Lukas. The pair are excellent and have great chemistry. You will care about what happens to them as they are both so likeable in their own different ways.
The ants are not the stars of this film but when they do get their screen time they make the most of it. Spliced with alien-DNA, they look pretty good for a low-budget movie and the action is fast and brutal!
While It Came from the Desert never has ‘laugh out loud’ moments there are enough jokes and references to get the occasional chuckle out of you. Some of the latter do over-step the mark on occasion veering dangerously close to parody (such as the retro-animation sequence).
It begins to lose its way though as it gets towards the finale. Charm turns to heroics and the last action sequence is too clean and nice. Sure it’s got a sequel bait final scene but it doesn’t exactly excite.
That being said, It Came From the Desert is entertaining. For a movie based off a videogame that is high praise!
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It Came From the Desert