LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Interview with Marko Makilaakso director of It Came From The Desert
By James Whittington, Tuesday 17th October 2017
Ahead of the UK premiere of his latest film It Came From The Desert at the Horror Channel Frightfest Halloween event, director Marko Makilaakso shares his admiration for Roger Corman, love of B-Movies, spoofing and overcoming homeland obstacles.
It Came From The Desert is inspired by Cinemaware's cult 1980s video game, which in turn was motivated by the giant creature feature craze infesting 1950s Hollywood. What was the main inspiration for you?
MM: There's so many movies and makers which inspired ICFTD, but the main inspiration was exactly that; creature feature infested 1950s Hollywood films, and the legendary Cinemaware Desert games and creature features and action comedies I grew up with in the 1980s. I love B-movies and mainstream filmmakers who give homages to those in their works, like Joe Dante, John Landis, Tim Burton, Steven Spielberg etc. There's something so pure and honest about B-movies and even though done with tight budgets you can see and feel that the makers put their hearts and souls into making the movie. That's really inspiring! I've always loved Cannon Films action movies like American Ninja and Delta Force, and comedies like Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure, Ed Wood, The Burbs' as well as creature features like Piranha and Gremlins. 1980's TV shows like V, Knight Rider, Street Hawk, Amazing Stories and I am sure there's a little bit something from all of those in my movie. The modern creature feature craze are the Syfy channel movies. Some of them are fun, but most of them are too lazy and poorly done. I don't mind low budgets, but when companies just want to cash in without any passion to the project then it's doomed from the very beginning. Roger Corman did it correctly! He hired passionate filmmakers to give their everything and in the end the movies had something extra, something special. Like the It Came From The Desert game was spoofing those and other 1950s monster movies, my movie is also spoofing the modern creature feature craze of Syfy movies.
It's smartly scripted, extremely funny, with an OTT deadpan delivery. How did you go about developing and writing the script to achieve that style?
MM: Nice to hear, thank you! The tone of the movie was very clear to me from the very beginning. I couldn't see the movie done in any other way. This was my love letter to movies I grew up with. I wanted to bring back this kind of old school "Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure" style of characters and the silly and fun moments that brings. I wrote the first draft which was still much leaner and meaner in scope but had the story, main characters, tone and comedy already set and once Cinemaware gave their blessing to "adapt" the game we expanded the scope. Talented writer Hank Woon came on board and wrote the next drafts expanding the tale. And then I wrote a few drafts mainly to keep the humour and action the way I imagined it. Then UK based AMP joined the party to co-produce and co-finance the movie and they suggested that talented filmmaker Trent Haaga polish the script. Trent got the tone right away. He did a wonderful job and made the script even better! Also one crucial element was the casting. I went through many, many actors to find the right cast who got the tone and could deliver the humour I was aiming for. The cast was just perfect for their roles and I had the luxury to allow them to improvise while shooting. I think the movie got funnier and funnier while shooting and that's only because we did the casting right!
The giant ant special effects are terrific. Is it true they are a homage to Ray Harryhausen?
MM: Ray Harryhausen was AMAZING! I love his work and there's definitely some Harryhausen spirit in the ant effects. Production designer/co-ant designer/practical ant effect creator Kari kankaanpaa and I are both big fans of Harryhausen's work, stop motion and miniatures. We even thought about using some miniatures in the movie, but the budget disagreed with that crazy idea. I actually have a movie treatment ready which is homage to Harryhausen and Toho. I even sent it to Julie and Roger Corman. It's awesome and hope it will get made someday.
It's been described as a 'pulp action horror mutant monster movie'. Is that what you set out to make?
MM: I set out to make a fun, entertaining, nostalgic, pulpy action-adventure-comedy-creature feature with a touch of horror, so yes... that sounds about right!
You're known internationally for your strong visual style. How much does being a successful music video director influence your movie career?
MM: I think that has a lot to do with who I am as a director and also how I work. Music videos have been a great learning ground for filmmaking. You need to shoot fast and make cool looking images and tell a story (if the video has any) in a visual way. So, yes, I owe a lot to that. But of course making a movie is completely its own beast.
You come from Finland. How important a part would you say your native roots play when writing and directing?
MM: You know, that's tricky thing for me. I always felt that I was born in the wrong country because of the kind of movies I wanted to make. I was never taken seriously or supported much by the Finnish film industry, except by the great filmmaker Antti J. Jokinen who gave my start. People look down on these kind of genre movies and that's sad I think and that's why I packed my bags eight years ago and moved away from Finland. Don't get me wrong, I do love my country, but it also pushed me away. I was the outsider in the industry with weird ideas and thoughts of making action horror movies. I was literally laughed at! So I went elsewhere and made my two first movies with countries and people who did get it. Even now, I am not considered as a "serious filmmaker" because of the movies I make, but I am happy that Desert is a Finnish co-production. We also shot one week in Finland which was a wild contrast coming from hot Spain to cold wintery Finland. I give all the respect in the world to Finnish Film Foundation who bravely supported and gave financing to the movie. Trust me; it's a really brave thing to do in Finland! So maybe after this movie the Finns we'll see that's I am not giving up and I'm still making these genre movies which I LOVE from the bottom of my heart!
Your debut film was the well-received action/horror War Of The Dead, which you also wrote and co-produced. Have you always been drawn to the horror genre?
MM: I love horror! I love action! I love comedy! I love drama! Dammit! I love movies no matter what the genre is! But horror has a special place in my heart. It's so honest and visual genre. We all have nightmares and fears and it's very easy to identify with those no matter how fantastical it is. It's the primal fear in all of us and it is so damn fun to watch knowing that no matter what happens you'll be safe! Shooting horror is also lots of fun and horror is also a genre where you can mix action and comedy without rules. Just pure damn FUN!
After Deadly Descent, your savage, war-like abominable snowman movie for SyFy and Universal, you turned your hand to a home-grown family comedy film, Ella And Friends 2. Why?
MM: Well, that''s good question. I have kids, three of them, and they are dying to see movies I've directed, but I can't really show them, so out of the blue I was offered to direct Ella 2 and I was shocked! Me? A kid's movie? Maybe the producer liked my more family friendly music videos and stuff. No matter what this was a wonderful opportunity to make something for my kids and also to direct my first Finnish movie and my first comedy! So I took the job with open arms. My oldest daughter, my dad and my brother are in it and I'm acting in it too! It's a real family affair! And I was working with one of my childhood heroes, Pirkka-Pekka Petelius, a comic genius!
You've also appeared as an actor in two of your films. Will we see more of you in front of the camera in future?
MM: Ha! Funny thing was that I had a real character in War of the Dead. I played Corporal Peter Jackson and I had few dialogue scenes with Andrew Tiernan who played the lead, but I needed to move along faster with the story and I cut out those scenes. I am still in the movie, but not talking. Maybe better so! Ella 2 was an opportunity to act a small role, so I did it. It was lots of fun! I am also in ICFTD, but briefly in the background. So more acting in the future? Well, maybe more cameos!
Finally, what's next? Will you stick with action horror?
MM: Not sure yet. There's many projects in development, but let's see which one gets first financed. There's definitely more action horror coming!
It Came From the Desert receives its UK premiere at Horror Channel FrightFest Halloween 2017 on Saturday 28th October, Empire Haymarket.
MORE ARTICLES Ghostland - Music from the Motion Picture
Posted in Reviews, Friday 18th October 2019 Ghostland - Music from the Motion Picture Georges Boukoff, Anthony d'Amario and Ed Rig The Omega Productions Records
Pascal Laugier's Ghostland (known in the UK as Incident in a Ghostland) was one of the highlights of FrightFest 2018 and proved once and for all that this director was a master of the sinister and murky.
Produced ten years after Martyrs, the movie was more considered in its tension building and was in its strange way a contained a classic fairy tale structure.
The movie concerns the aftermath of a brutal home invasion experienced by Beth along with mother and sister Vera. Forward a few years and Beth is now a horror novelist and has found solace in her w...SHARE: READ MORE Halloween: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Expanded Edition)
Posted in Reviews, Thursday 17th October 2019
Halloween: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Expanded Edition) Sacred Bones Double Vinyl
Halloween 2018 was a box-office hit and gave the franchise a much-needed tension injection. It saw the return of Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode and that of original director John Carpenter though he wasn't in the driving seat for this one. Instead he, alongside his son and godson, Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies created the score and delivered an atmospheric piece which retained whispers to the past without drowning in them.
The soundtrack album was a hit as much as the movie was debuting at #12 on the Billboard Albums chart and #2 on the vinyl chart, o...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Paul Davis, director of Uncanny Annie
Posted in Frightfest, Interviews, Wednesday 16th October 2019
Ahead of the International premiere of Uncanny Annie at Arrow Video FrightFest Halloween 2019, director Paul Davis reflects on working for Blumhouse, bemoans attitudes to British genre film funding and reveals the movies that inspire him the most...
HC: Tell us how Uncanny Annie came about?
PD: Uncanny Annie is my second movie for Blumhouse as part of Hulu's Into The Dark movie series. I had the opportunity to actually kick off last October with a feature adaptation of my short film The Body (which had its world premiere at FF in 2013). The concept was to release a movie a month, for twelve months, with each revolving around a holiday or particular day for the month of its released. With The Bod...SHARE: READ MORE Dare you experience Kraken Screamfest: The Director's Cut?
Posted in News, Tuesday 15th October 2019
This Halloween, London braces itself for The Kraken Rum to deliver a unique bar and horror experience like no other, commissioning legendary horror mastermind Neil Marshall to direct every detail of the night. The Kraken Black Spiced Rum is joining forces with the esteemed Hollywood Director to present 'Kraken Screamfest: Director's Cut' - promising to bestow fresh new nightmares on even the most devoted fans of the horror genre.
Neil Marshall, famed for classics The Descent, Dog Soldiers and Game of Thrones, will be terrifying those brave enough to step inside the real-world creation of his darkest imaginings. Everything from the decor and the staff to the Kraken Rum cockt...SHARE: READ MORE Superb supernatural comedy Extra Ordinary to have UK cinema release on 25th October
Posted in News, Tuesday 15th October 2019
Wildcard Distribution is bringing the Irish supernatural comedy Extra Ordinary to UK cinemas on 25th October. The film will play exclusively in key cities around the UK with Odeon Cinemas.
Extra Ordinary stars comedian/writer/actress Maeve Higgins (Naked Camera, Inside Amy Schumer), Barry Ward (Jimmy's Hall, MAZE), Will Forte (Nebraska, McGruber, Last Man on Earth), and Claudia O'Doherty (Trainwreck, Love, Inside Amy Schumer, Long Shot) and tells the story of Rose, a sweet and lonely small town driving instructor who must use her supernatural 'talent' to save the daughter of a local man from a washed up rock-star looking to use her in a satanic pact that will reignite his fame.
The film wh...SHARE: READ MORE "It's the most zombified time of the year!" Anna and the Apocalypse is coming to Blu-ray
Posted in News, Thursday 10th October 2019
What better way to celebrate the festive season than with a zombie apocalypse Christmas musical?
Anna and the Apocalypse is set for its UK Blu-ray debut on 2 December in a feature packed double-disc edition, courtesy of Second Sight.
It's Christmas time and the sleepy Scottish town of Little Haven is under threat from a zombie apocalypse, forcing Anna (Ella Hunt) and her friends to fight, slash and sing their way to survival, facing the undead in a desperate race to reach their loved ones. But even zombies can't stop the teen drama: will Anna's best friend John (Malcolm Cumming) reveal his true feelings for her, or will her smu...SHARE: READ MORE Terry Pratchett's Discworld comes to vinyl for the first time this November
Posted in News, Thursday 10th October 2019
Terry Pratchett's Vinyl Discworld is a 15LP vinyl audiobook box set featuring seven classic stories, which will be released on Friday 29th November.
Following the very successful Good Omens, Doctor Who and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy releases on vinyl, Demon Music Group presents Discworld featuring the following stories: Mort Wyrd Sisters Guards! Guards! Eric Small Gods Night Watch Bonus non-Discworld story Only You Can Save Mankind
41 Discworld novels were written, set on a fictional flat planet, balanced on the backs of four elephants, which in turn stand on the back of a giant turtle. It is estimated that more than 80 milli...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Lars Klevberg, director of Child's Play (2019)
Posted in Interviews, Thursday 10th October 2019 It was the remake everyone was against! The interweb was ablaze with negativity but director Lars Klevberg and his team managed to pull off one of the best horror movies of 2019. Here he chats about the smart shocker, Child's Play.
HC: How nervous were you taking on a re-imagining of such a beloved concept and franchise?
LK: I was in fact very nervous the minute I signed on to do the movie. Before that, I worked relentlessly for weeks to get the job, but immediately after getting it my body had a very stressful reaction. I was fully aware of the legacy I was about to re-open so, I didn't sleep one minute that night.
HC: W...SHARE: READ MORE 13 nights of scares as Horror Channel presents a Haunted Halloween Season
Posted in Features, Tuesday 8th October 2019
For thirteen nights, from Saturday 19th October to Thursday 31st October at 9pm, Horror Channel presents a Haunted Halloween Season, a supernaturally spooky selection of the scariest movies, including the UK premiere of the ghostly chiller The Unspoken and the channel premiere of the terrifying thriller Pay The Ghost, starring Nicholas Cage.
Other highlights include Damiano Damiani's diabolical prequel to The Amityville Horror - Amityville II: The Possession. James Watkins' spine-chilling remake The Woman In Black, starring Daniel Radcliffe, Ti West's The Shining slacker-style indie sensation, The Innkeepers. the 2008 US remake of The Eye, starring Jessica Alba and box-offi...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Chris Bavota, co-director of Dead Dicks
Posted in Interviews, Sunday 6th October 2019
Horror is the perfect genre for getting across very serious issues. Dead Dicks, which is showing at Grimmfest today does exactly that by looking at the sensitive subject of mental health. Here co-director Chris Bavota talks about this intriguing movie.
HC: How did you and co-writer and co-director Lee Paula Springer first meet?
CB: In case people don't know, Lee and I have been married for almost 10 years and we have 2 young daughters. Making movies somehow came as a natural evolution of that but wasn't really a part of our lives until about three or four years ago. We originally met back around 2004 through a mutual friend and honestly, we didn't really ge...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Robi Michael, writer and director of Every Time I Die
Posted in Interviews, Saturday 5th October 2019
Grimmfest 2019 is well underway and one of the stand out movies so far has been Every Time I Die from director Robi Michael. Here he chats about this gripping movie.
HC: Was there one person or movie that you saw that made you want to be a director?
RM: Hard to think of one person or movie, because as long as I remember, it was clear to me that all I want to do is make movies - I was in love with films and decided to pursue it from a very early age. I was too young to realized what it takes to make movies or what is the job of a director. I can say that an early big influence in story telling is the legendary graphic novel writer, Alan Moore. Books like "Watchmen" and "V for...SHARE: READ MORE Arrow Video FrightFest announces line-up for Halloween 2019 event
Posted in Frightfest, News, Thursday 3rd October 2019 Arrow Video FrightFest continues on its highly acclaimed and hugely successful Twenty Bloody Year rampage with a fear-packed journey through Halloween traditions, religious deviance, unstoppable maniacs, warped fairy tales, terrifying board games and the very rules of horror themselves.
The popular Halloween all-day event returns to the Cineworld Leicester Square on Saturday 3 November and the 12-hour monstrous marathon embraces four UK premieres, one European and one International premiere.
The day kicks off with the European Premiere of Josh Hasty's Candy Corn. With an impressive all-star genre cast (including Tony Todd, who exec-produces), an innovative iconic killer...SHARE: READ MORE Articles Archive: 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 PICK OF THE WEEK
Friday 25th October
Saturday 26th October
Wednesday 30th October