Marko Mäkilaakso, It Came From The Desert

(Courtesy of Roger! Pictures)

With the latest horror/comedy from Roger! Pictures arriving on Video On Demand, Villain Media has an exclusive interview with writer/director Marko Mäkilaakso discussing his giant insect movie, It Came From The Desert. Find out how this pulpy monster flick was inspired by the 1989 action/adventure game by Cinemaware!

It was supposed to be normal, average day when rival motocross heroes and heroines stumble onto kegger parties in middle of  the desert. Out in the middle of nowhere, they find a secret underground military base. And of course, there happens to be giant ants roaming around!

With the movie  coming out on Video On Demand on May 29th, 2018, screenwriter/director Marko Mäkilaakso speak about the casting movies, finding the right balance between horror and comedy, and what this bug movie means to him. So if you love director’s commentaries, there’s no better place than with us.

Villain Media: I love the title, It Came From The Desert. The title reminds me of giant bug movies, like Them! and Eight Legged Freaks. What were your interests with the film?

Marko Mäkilaakso: I love the title too! It is an awesome title! Creature features have a very special place in my heart. I love Them!, Eight Legged Freaks, Jaws, Gremlins, Tarantula, The Howling, An American Werewolf in London etc. I love monster movies of all shapes and sizes! It is really fun to do something like It came From The Desert and my inspirations were B-creature features from the ‘50s to action comedies of the ‘80s. Lots and lots of movies have inspired this one!

VM: Screenwriters argue video game adaptations are the most difficult and the most challenging. Because the movie is inspired by Cinemaware’s ‘80s video game, how did you avoid the hurdles with your story?

MM: Well, video game adaptations can be difficult to make due to various reasons, but because we had an original story – a sequel to the games – it gave me lots of freedom of course. The key was to get the humor and tone of the games right. So even if we have a new storyline, the spirit is the same.

VM: Tell me about capturing the on-screen charisma of Harry Lister Smith (Brian) and Alex Mills (Lukas).

MM: First of all, Harry and Alex are really fantastic actors! And turning these dramatic actors into silly comedy was actually easy because of that reason. I wanted to emulate this kind of “Bill & Ted” buddy vibe in their characters, but grounding them still in reality. No matter how silly things go, they live like it’s happening for real.

Harry and Alex got the tone I was aiming for and it was pure pleasure working with them! Casting is a process where things can go wrong very easily and I saw audition tapes of many, many fine actors.

Alex was casted first. I knew he would be perfect as Lukas. Finding the right Brian was a little bit harder. We never had time to test them together and I had to trust my instincts that they would work and have chemistry…and they did! Then during filming, it was my job to guide them through the process and keep the tone in the right place.

VM: Tell me about Vanessa Grasse, who plays Lisa.

MM: Vanessa was great to work with! From all the wonderful casting options I had in the end, Vanessa got the part. She is beautiful, smart and funny. Everything I wanted Lisa to be. Like Harry and Alex, she got the tone and humor I was aiming for and played it very well! I was very lucky with the entire cast! We had such a wonderful time together making the movie, which itself can be very hard sometimes. Vanessa made my life so much easier; she is absolutely great!

VM: Not only are you balancing the horror and humor, you’re also dealing with practical and special effects. What did you find most challenging?

MM: I love making these kind of movies and everything comes very naturally to me. I didn’t find mixing humor and horror, or working with effects, stunts etc. hard. It’s all tons of fun! I am in a candy store – or better to say DVD store – when making a movie like this! I love it! The challenging thing was the fast shooting schedule and limited budget.

VM: Tell me how readers can find your movie.

VM: The movie is coming out on VOD in the US the 29th of May and DVD on the 5th of June. In Canada, the Blu-ray and DVD comes out on 29th of May. UK release follows soon after. The movie is out now in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Latin-America etc.

MM: How did this project change you as a storyteller?

VM: That’s a good question! I think I finally found a perfect vehicle for me. I have done action/horror movies before as well as family comedies. But this kind of light cocktail of action, comedy and horror is totally my cup of tea! I hope I can do more similar style of movies!

Marko Mäkilaakso, It Came From The Desert,
It Came From the Desert, Roger! Pictures

VM: What are you working on now?

MM: Well, I am working on an action comedy, which will be officially announced later this year. So I’m looking forward to see how everything goes!

It Came From The Desert arrives on VOD  May 29th, 2018 and on DVD June 5th, 2018.

By Jorge Solis

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