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 FRIGHTFEST
Important news from team FrightFest
Posted on Tuesday 2nd June 2020
FrightFest Halloween 2020

Due to the continuing Covid-19 restrictions on social distancing, Arrow FrightFest's traditional five day event in August has been regretfully put on hold. Instead, the organisers are planning to expand their traditional all-day Halloween event at the end of October.

Alan Jones, co-director, said today: "Sadly, we won't be able to come together and celebrate our 21st year in the summer but rest assured, we will make our London Halloween event one to remember. FrightFest has always been about the genre community joining together, not just to embrace films but to demonstrate our unique spirit of supportive closeness".

Details on dates, venues, films and tick...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Julien Seri, director of Anderson Falls
Posted on Tuesday 18th February 2020

Ahead of the UK premiere of serial killer thriller Anderson Falls at Arrow Video FrightFest Glasgow 2020, director Julien Seri reflects on this, his first 'American' experience, challenging fight scenes and the importance of personal vision.

It has been five years since we premiered Night Fare at FrightFest London, what have you been up to since then?

JS: I worked on two, very singular, projects as a producer and/or director. I signed for both with Wild Bunch, but we've failed to produce them yet. So I keep fighting. And I did a lot of commercials, TV series and music videos.

When did you first hear about the Anderson Falls script and why did you think it was perfect for yo...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Adam Stovall, director of A Ghost Waits
Posted on Sunday 9th February 2020

Ahead of the World premiere of A Ghost Waits at Arrow Video FrightFest Glasgow 2020, director Adam Stovall reflects on getting through depression, creating paranormal romance and the influence of Tom Waits...

You have an interesting CV - from comedy theatre and film journalism to writing for The Hollywood Reporter and second assistant directing. Was all this a game plan to becoming a fully-fledged director?

AS: I've known since I was a little kid sitting in the basement watching the network TV premiere of Back To The Future while holding my Back To The Future storybook and waiting for them to premiere the first footage from Back To The Future 2 during a commercial br...

SHARE: READ MORE
Arrow Video FrightFest announces Glasgow Film Festival 2020 line-up
Posted on Thursday 16th January 2020

Welcome the transgressive, the traumatic and the terrifying as Arrow Video FrightFest, the UK's favourite horror fantasy event, returns to Glasgow Film Festival for a 15th fantastic year, from Thursday 5 March to Saturday 7 March, 2020.

Thirteen is lucky for some as that's the number of new films being presented at the iconic Glasgow Film Theatre, embracing the latest genre discoveries from around the globe, spanning four continents, including one world, two European and seven UK premieres.

Alan Jones, FrightFest co-director, commented: "Welcome to another banner FrightFest and another invitation to explore the horror fantasy genre's fertile harvest bursting with creativity, ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Cameron Macgowan, director of Red Letter Day
Posted on Friday 1st November 2019

FrightFest 2019 exposed a lot of new talent in the movie industry and one of the stand-out pieces was Red Letter Day from Cameron Macgowan.

HC: Where did the idea for Red Letter Day come from and did it take long to write?

CM: I have long been a fan of the 'Humans Hunting Humans' subgenre of film (Battle Royale, The Running Man, Hard Target, etc.) and was inspired to set one of these films in what many people consider the 'safe' location of the suburbs. Suburban communities feel like the perfect setting for a horror film as you can walk for miles without seeing a single soul all while knowing that you are surrounded by many people. This mixed with a desire to satirise the current socio-political climate ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Carlo Mirabella-Davis, director of Swallow
Posted on Wednesday 30th October 2019

Ahead of the UK premiere of Swallow at Arrow Video FrightFest Halloween, director Carlo Mirabella-Davis reflects on the personal inspiration behind his feature debut, healing psychological wounds and his empathy for the genre.

HC: Swallow is your directorial debut. How difficult was it to get the project off the ground?

CMD: Getting a film made is a fascinating process. My late, great teacher at NYU, Bill Reilly, would always say "script is coin of the realm". The early stages involved perfecting the screenplay as much as I could, writing and rewriting until I felt confident sending it out. The sacred bond between the producer and the director is the catalyst that brings a film into being. I ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Paul Davis, director of Uncanny Annie
Posted on 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
Arrow Video FrightFest announces line-up for Halloween 2019 event
Posted on Thursday 3rd October 2019
FF19-Halloween logoArrow 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
FrightFest favourite A Good Woman is Hard to Find coming to cinemas and HD
Posted on Thursday 26th September 2019
Sarah Bolger in A Good Woman is Hard to Find (Signature Entertainment, 25th Oct) (3)

Directed by Abner Pastoll and starring Sarah Bolger, Edward Hogg, Andrew Simpson and Jane Brennan the superb thriller A Good Woman is Hard to Find will be released in Cinemas and Digital HD on 25th October.

Written by Academy Award nominee and BAFTA winner Ronan Blaney, the movie closed FrightFest 2019 to much acclaim this crowd-pleasing and violent kitchen-sink revenge thriller is a dark and daring journey through Northern Ireland's criminal underbelly.

Recently widowed mother of two Sarah (a tour-de-force Sarah Bolger) is desperate to know who m...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Evan Daves star of Porno
Posted on Friday 30th August 2019

In the bizarre and gruesome comedy/horror Porno, Abe, played by Evan Daves is a burgeoning pervert with a guilty conscience who works in a cinema and ends up battling a demon! Here, Evan tells all about this gory story. (Headshot - Matthew Murphy)

HC: How did the role of Abe in Porno come about?

ED: I had the audition come in through my agent. Adrienne Stern, the casting director, is great; she actually cast me in my first movie when I was 13, a comedy called "Harold" starring Cuba Gooding Jr. Since then she's always been kind enough to bring me in for projects that I'm right for. When I saw her name in the breakdown I knew it would be a wacky, cool project - she has a great eye for that stuff...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Sara Garcia, star of True Fiction
Posted on Friday 30th August 2019

FrightFest 2019 was contained some of the best psychological thrillers we've seen in a long time. One of the finest was Braden Croft's True Fiction which boasts incredible performances from John Cassini and Sara Garcia. We chatted to Sara about her role of lonely librarian, Avery Malone.

HC: Did you always want to be an actress when you were growing up?

SG: I've always been a performer. As a child my parents encouraged my artistic side through dance classes, singing lessons and after school performing arts programs. When I was very young, I dreamed of being a singer and as a grew older I gravitated more towards the dramatic arts. I didn't seek acting out as a profession until later in life. I fel...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Fernando Alle, writer and director of Mutant Blast
Posted on Thursday 29th August 2019

One of the wildest and most bizarre movies of FrightFest 2019 was Fernando Alle's gore-splattered sci-fi inspired feature, Mutant Blast. Here, he tells us the story about making this crazy piece of celluloid.

HC: Regular FrightFest goers will know you from your pieces Banana Motherf**ker and Papa Wrestling, why has it been so long for Mutant Blast to come along?

FA: I started making this film in 2012, and it has indeed been far too long. I figured that making a feature film would be 10 times harder than making a short film, but in fact it is at least 100 times harder. I am glad I was naive, because otherwise I would have cut a lot of stuff from the script and the film would not have turned out ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Frightfest Archive: 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007
PICK OF THE WEEK
Hostel: Part II
HOSTEL: PART II
Saturday 6th June
10.55 PM
Insidious
INSIDIOUS
Monday 8th June
9.00 PM
Extinction
EXTINCTION
Friday 5th June
10.40 PM