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Monday, March 4, 2019

It Came from the Desert (2017)




I remember seeing the trailer for this and then totally forgetting about it. I must not have been alone because the movie seems to have been quietly released to streaming services which honestly isn’t a good sign. That said I used to play the video game that it was based on and love the old fifties science fiction movies that inspired that game. So of course, I was going to watch it!

After a nice nod to the video game with a movie version of the cut scene that kicked it off we find a group of military guys running for their lives from giant ants. They don’t get away and if they did it would be a short movie. After that bloody carnage we then get to meet a pair of brothers, Lucas and Brian, who are about to head out for a big dirt bike race. Lucas has invited Lisa, the girl that Brian is secretly in love with hoping that he will finally tell her as much. They get to the big race/party which happens to be right next to the facility where the ants are running wild. The boys manage to wander in and meet up with the big bugs all while getting some backstory from a video tape left by a scientist.

Here is the skinny. In the fifties an asteroid fell to Earth and some giant ants happened because of radiation and things. This is a reference to the classic THEM! which is also referenced directly by the name of the project. After containing that accident, the scientists created a failsafe where the ants can’t breed without booze… yeah there is a raging kegger right next door! The rest of the flick has the brothers fighting CGI ants and saving the day. All in all, about what I expected.

This isn’t what I’d call a good movie. The plot is very thin with little to no time spent developing a cohesive narrative beyond referencing the video game. If you haven’t played the game, which isn’t that well known, you might get lost. Why are there experimental weapons? Why did they set up rail guns to lure the ants into? Hell, why are there dirt bikes left lying around? These are all things from the game, so they are in the movie. When it comes to It Came from the Desert you don’t want to overthink things and just enjoy the ride.

CGI ants are okay...
I know that I’ve made the movie sound really bad so far, but I did get some fun out of it. This is a simple bug hunt with kids running around making improbable escapes and shooting stuff. The special effects are a combination of rubber appliance in the “grabbing” scenes and CGI when we see the ants crawling over the scenery. The kills are very tame except for a single ant that inexplicably spits acid on a girl’s face so yeah there isn’t much gore in this one. But we do get to see some cool dirt bikes. And a dude with a backpack of vodka… I can honestly say I’ve never seen that before.

Seriously I get it that this is a dumb movie but if you are looking for a mindless way to kill some time and like giant insects then you could do a lot worse than It Came from the Desert. That said I would recommend against purchasing this. I caught it on Amazon Prime and watched it at no cost to me other than my time. I can’t imagine ever spending time on re-watching the movie, so a purchase might be wasted money. With that large caveat I will sort of recommend it.


© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer

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