ARTICLES

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
Alien invasion, English style!
Posted in News, Sunday 31st May 2020
Alien Outbreak cover

The deadliest plague has come from above!

In a rural English town, two police officers begin their normal shift but soon realise something is wrong. With residents behaving strangely and horrific events unfolding before their eyes, they learn they are under attack from terrifying alien creatures and must fight to defend their town and community.

Starring Katherine Drake and Ritchie Crane, written and directed by award-winning VFX artist and filmmaker Neil Rowe (Robot World), Alien Outbreak will be available to own on DVD and Digital from 20th July from Dazzler Media.

...
SHARE: READ MORE
There's a new reason to be afraid of the dark... Pitch Black in 4K
Posted in News, Saturday 30th May 2020
Pitch Black 4K Cover

A sci-fi/horror sleeper hit that birthed a franchise and launched the career of a new action movie icon, Pitch Black holds its own today as a nerve-shredding creature-feature in which the monsters outside finally meet their match against a monster within.

When an intergalactic transport ship crashes on a remote desert planet with no sign of help on the horizon, the survivors, led by Fry (Radha Mitchell), band together to find a way back home. Among the passengers is Riddick (Vin Diesel), a convicted murderer being transported by marshal Johns (Cole Hauser) - and now freed of his chains and on the loose. But as a solar eclipse plunges the planet into total darkness, a threat eve...

SHARE: READ MORE
Creepshow 2 coming soon to HD
Posted in News, Saturday 30th May 2020

Titans of terror George A. Romero and Stephen King deliver yet another selection of blood-curdling tales in Creepshow 2, the follow-up to the 1982 horror classic. Arrow Video will be giving this classic the release it deserves on Blu-ray on 13th July.

In "Old Chief Wood'nhead", a group of young hoodlums face retribution from an unlikely source after looting a local hardware store. Meanwhile, "The Raft" sees a group of horny teens wishing they'd read the warning signs first before taking a dip in a remote lake. Finally, an uptight businesswoman finds herself with some unwanted company following a hit-and-run incident in "The Hitch-hiker".

Retaining the same EC comic book flav...

SHARE: READ MORE
You're going to need a bigger sofa... Doctor Who - The Monster Vault opening soon
Posted in News, Tuesday 26th May 2020
The Monster Vault

Doctor Who's biggest and most comprehensive monster guide yet, The Monster Vault takes you on the ultimate tour of the Whoniverse, discovering and cataloguing every wonderful and terrifying creature the Doctor has ever encountered.

From the notorious Daleks, to the evil Stenza warrior T'zim-Sha and the ancient Thijarians, The Monster Vault features in-depth profiles on each monster, showing the Doctor's most dangerous enemies in their natural habitat and unveiling their secret histories. You will also discover how monsters were created and designed, through exclusive behind-the-scenes interviews, anecdotes, case studies and unseen artwork.

This lavish and visually stunnin...

SHARE: READ MORE
Influential and genre bending horror-comedy receives a new 2K restoration
Posted in News, Tuesday 26th May 2020
Mr Vampire cover

Eureka Entertainment to release Ricky Lau's influential Mr. Vampire, a genre bending horror-comedy, presented from a brand new 2K restoration making its worldwide debut on Blu-ray as part of the Eureka Classics range from 20 July. The first print-run of 2000 copies will feature a Limited Edition O-Card Slipcase and Collector's Booklet.

One of the most genre-defining (not to mention genre-defying!) horror-comedies imaginable, and one of the key Hong Kong blockbuster hits of the 1980s, the popularity and influence of Mr. Vampire cannot be overstated. Spawning at least four sequels and countless spin-offs and imitations, this Hong Kong horror-comedy to end them all was ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Horror Channel brings shocks aplenty in June with star-studded Spine-Chiller Season
Posted in Features, News, Thursday 21st May 2020

There are star-studded shocks aplenty on Horror Channel in June, courtesy of the Spine-Chiller Season - a selection of supernatural mysteries to get your summer off to a very scary start. Scheduled for Saturday nights at 9pm, the season is headed by the Channel premiere of the moody and violent chiller Gothika, starring Halle Berry, Robert Downey Jr. and Penelope Cruz. Other titles include Kevin Bacon's career launcher Stir of Echoes, the gripping US-remake of The Grudge, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, and the terrifying supernatural thriller Pay the Ghost, starring Nicholas Cage.

There are also UK TV premieres for the sharply eerie Nails, starring Shauna Macdonald and Ross Noble and the deadly Viral, ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Vin Diesel comes back to life in Bloodshot
Posted in News, Sunday 17th May 2020
Bloodshot pack shot

Vin Diesel stars in the thrilling action movie Bloodshot, available to buy on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD on June 8 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Based on the bestselling comic book "Valiant" by Jeff Wadlow, Diesel stars as Ray Garrison, a soldier recently killed in action and brought back to life as the superhero Bloodshot by the RST corporation. With an army of nanotechnology in his veins, he's an unstoppable force - stronger than ever and able to heal instantly.

But in controlling his body, the company has sway over his mind and memories, too. Now, Ray doesn't know what's real and what's not - but he's on a mission to find out.

Directed by David S. ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Exploitation classic Inferno of Torture to be released on Blu-ray
Posted in News, Sunday 17th May 2020
INFERNO_OF_TORTURE_3D_BD_1200

Exploitation legend Teruo Ishii (Horrors of Malformed Men, Orgies of Edo) delivers one of his most extreme visions of violent eroticism in this, the sixth in his abnormal love series. Tattoos and torture await women forced into servitude in Ishii's Inferno of Torture which is being released 6th July by Arrow Video.

Unable to repay a local lender, Yumi (Yumika Katayama) takes up an offer to serve as a geisha for two years with a promise of freedom once her debt is repaid. She quickly realises that this is less a house of geishas than an extremely cruel brothel specialising in supplying western visitors with tattooed playthings. Taken under the wing of one of th...

SHARE: READ MORE
Dirk Gently to do his detecting on vinyl in July
Posted in News, Sunday 17th May 2020
Dirk Gentleys Detectice Agency Vinyl

'Let's think the unthinkable, let's do the undoable.'

Presented in triple gatefold vinyl for the very first time, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency stars Harry Enfield as the singular detective in this full-cast BBC radio dramatisation of the novel by Douglas Adams. First broadcast on Radio 4 in 2007, these fantastically entertaining comedy sci-fi dramas are adapted and directed by Dirk Maggs, acclaimed for his dramatisations of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Good Omens, Neverwhere and many others.

Dirk Gently has an unshakeable faith in the interconnectedness of all things. His Holistic Detective Agency mainly succeeds in...

SHARE: READ MORE
A trio of Lugosi classics coming to Blu-ray for the first time
Posted in News, Sunday 17th May 2020
Lugosi_Poe_OCard_3D_pack_72dpi_V2

Eureka Entertainment to release Murders in the Rue Morgue/The Black Cat/The Raven: Three Edgar Allan Poe Adaptations starring Bela Lugosi, on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK. Presented in a 2-Disc Limited Edition Blu-ray set (2000 copies only) as part of The Masters of Cinema Series, available from 20 July.

This trio of classic 1930s horror films-Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Black Cat, and The Raven-is also distinguished by a trio of factors regarding their production. Most notably, each film is based on a work by master of the macabre Edgar Allan Poe. Part of the legendary wave of horror films made by Universal Pictures in the 30s, all three fe...

SHARE: READ MORE
Doctor Who: Time Lord Victorious from BBC Books
Posted in News, Sunday 17th May 2020
Doctor Who The Knight, The Fool, The Dead

BBC Books has revealed that it will be publishing two novels to tie into BBC Studios multi-platform Doctor Who story, Time Lord Victorious.

Time Lord Victorious will tell a new and untold story, set within the Dark Times at the start of the universe, when even the Eternals were young. Following several Doctors across space and time as they defend their home planet from a terrible race, this is a story like no other.

Time Lord Victorious will feature the Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Doctor characters, companion Rose Tyler and monsters including the Daleks and the Ood, with more to be revealed over the coming months as products are ann...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Adam Green, director of Victor Crowley
Posted in Doctor Who, Interviews, Wednesday 13th May 2020

Ahead of Horror Channel's UK TV premiere of Adam Green's Victor Crowley, the great director shares his personal tragedies, George Romero's inspirational words, the importance of genre comedy and hints that the Bayou Butcher may rise again...

HC: Adam, you're back on Horror Channel with your latest Hatchet instalment, Victor Crowley. Excited?

AG: I'm always thrilled to hear that another one of my films will be playing on the UK's Horror Channel! It's crazy to think that the US hasn't had a horror specific television channel in 6 years now, only horror themed subscription platforms like Shudder. Then again - look at the real life horror we're dealing with here as far as our current President goes...

SHARE: READ MORE
Articles Archive: 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006
PICK OF THE WEEK
Can't Come Out To Play
CAN'T COME OUT TO PLAY
Sunday 7th June
9.00 PM
Gothika
GOTHIKA
Saturday 6th June
9.00 PM
Prom Night
PROM NIGHT
Tuesday 2nd June
9.00 PM