10 Films Set in the Desert That Will Make Your Throats Go Dry

10 Films Set in the Desert That Will Make Your Throats Go Dry

The sun beating down on you and draining every last ounce of energy from your already drained body. Your skin so dry and patchy that it looks like it will begin peeling off any minute now. Your throat so parched that you fear that even if you do get water in the next oasis you see that will turn out to be more than just a mirage that first drop may just turn to steam and hurt you even more. And your eyes so blinded that you can hardly see beyond a few feet, not there there’s anything to see except vast dunes of sand that have devoured thousands, man and animal alike. Sounds scary? Well, that’s the experience the movies on this particular list take you through! And even when you’re sitting in the comfort of your home, you are bound to feel the heat! So let’s go ahead and check out what we have in store for you on our list of 10 Films Set in the Desert That Will Make Your Throats Go Dry!



It’s one thing to be lost in an arid landscape with the sun beating down on you and the constant apprehension of whether or not you will make it to your destination, and another to be hunted down by a maniac who is out to kill you for his sadistic pleasure. Very few movies on this list recount the horrors of being chased down by a killer who will back down for nothing, and for this reason alone, Desierto finds our list. A thriller to the core, the storyline has a group of Mexican immigrants trying to cross the border and enter the land of the free. With their car breaking down, they are left to the mercy of the desert, and although they might have even made their way through it, there’s one hurdle that would give most of them death instead of a good life — a vigilante named Sam, who with his M1 Garand rifle and a vicious canine named Tracker, kill one immigrant after another. Eventually, it comes down to only two survivors, and a grueling battle of wits and perseverance between the killer and the survivors begins. While Gael Garcia Bernal as Moises and Alondra Hidalgo as Adela surely impress, it’s Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Sam who impresses the most. And although the script could have been a little tighter, the movie certainly makes for a great watch.

The Hills Have Eyes 2

Sequels are seldom great but when it came to this one, it certainly did a great job at matching up to the expectations of the audience! Hills Have Eyes 2, as a sequel to the original film that was released in 2006, brings the US Army National Guard to an old military base in the barren landscape of the desert of New Mexico. And what transpires after they witness storage happenings is downright chilling. Talk about dealing with the double jeopardy of the harsh terrain of the arid land and then having horrifying experiences to double the terror! Sent into the desert to locate and destroy a mutant clan that was the result of nuclear testing, the group of young National Guardsmen faces one attack after another, only to learn that the mutants plan to kidnap the females of the group for breeding! With horrifying sequences and thrilling confrontations, the film does well to shock and awe. And although it scores quite low on the ratings, The Hills Have Eyes 2 sure brings the desert to life!

The Mummy Franchise

While The Mummy franchise does have its beginning in the 1930s, it is the fairly modern versions headed by filmmaker Stephen Sommers that make this list. In all, the series had a few primary titles and spinoffs. And each one of them, from The Mummy in 1999, The Mummy Returns in 2001, and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor in 2008, had a fair bit of sequences set against the backdrop of the desert. It was the same with the spinoff series that consisted of The Scorpion King, The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior, The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption, The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power, and The Scorpion King: Book of Souls. And despite this impressive lineup, it was the first movie in the franchise that impressed the most and was, for the larger part of the movie, set in the desert too. With Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz leading the way, the movie opened up a whole new world to audiences. With an Indiana Jones touch that brought to life every scene, the movie was particularly notable for its high-end graphics, especially the unique visual effects that made Andrew Vosloo a menacing mummy indeed. This one told you all about the treasures and horrors that seas of sand could hold, and when we come to think of it, there really must be so many things hidden under those sands in deserts across the globe that will probably stay hidden forever!



The brainchild of Matt Damon, Casey Affleck, and Gus Van Sant, who between themselves, took care of the roles of writers, cast, editors, and directors, Gerry is a movie that may have tanked at the box office but is still the topic of hot debate between fans. Some tag it as a vain attempt at telling a story while others call it a brilliant piece of work that few would understand. All in all, what Gerry does do is bring to audiences the many harsh realities of the desert and how tempers can fly when people are up against an adverse situation. The movie has two characters, both of them named Gerry, who take to a wilderness trail on a whim and lose track of how to get back. What ensues is a surreal adventure that has both the main protagonists get increasingly frustrated with each other with one of them finally strangling the other. The killing seems to be a tad premature though, for just as quickly, the surviving Gerry realizes that there was a highway closeby. Showing just how the desert and the wilderness can play with your mind and make you something you are not, the movie was dedicated to Ken Kasey, the American “novelist, essayist, and countercultural figure”.

Beyond the Reach


Starring the versatile Michael Douglas, Jeremy Irvine, Hanna Mangan-Lawrence, and Ronny Cox, Beyond the Reach makes surviving in the desert even more difficult, what with a ruthless killer hell-bent on not just killing you, but killing you in the worst way to die in a desert — exposure to the harsh environs and dehydration. But when you know the terrain and all that it holds better than some gunslinging tycoon from the city, you know you can make it out of the situation alive. Well, while that just about sums up what Beyond the Reach is all about, what makes the movie a truly thrilling one is that you just begin to think that all has ended well, there’s a new twist that has you wondering again if the movie will indeed end on a good note. And of course, since this list is all about movies that make your throat go dry, we won’t be revealing any secrets that satiate your curiosity just yet!

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

While Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time has plenty of dreamy sequences and scenes of grandeur and magic, it is eventually set against the backdrop of a desert, making it a worthy contender on our list. And while the movie itself is a high-voltage and action-packed one with a great storyline and amazing actors ranging from Jake Gyllenhaal and Gemma Arterton to Ben Kingsley and Toby Kebbell, it is after all a movie that revolves around the magic that the sands of time hold, making it a sandy affair indeed! The climax is especially quite the dizzying affair and with all that sand flying around, we wonder how anyone who found themselves there could even breathe, let alone fight it out! Made on a grand budget that returned a lot more at the box office, the movie is one of the most magical ones to be set against the backdrop of a desert kingdom, making it one of our favorites on this list! With fantasy, love, betrayal, and loads of action, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is one movie you can watch over and over again.


Starring Shia LeBeouf, Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voight, Patricia Arquette, and Tim Blake Nelson, Holes is a comedy-drama that experiments with a rather unique storyline, and delivers too! So why does Holes make it to this list? Well, several scenes in the movie bringing out the challenging landscape of the desert and the hardships the children have to face at the juvenile detention camp on the now dry and arid Camp Green Lake stand testimony to the challenges of the desert. And with venomous lizards that even prove lethal, this one is enough to make anyone in the audience dread that next trip to a desert destination. Locking on to a box office collection of $71.8 million against the $20 million that was spent in its production, Holes was certainly no dry affair for the filmmakers and production companies associated with it. And all this despite being filmed against the backdrop of the desert!

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

No other archaeologist’s life of adventure has captivated our imagination the way Harrison Ford in the role of Indiana Jones has and that’s exactly what goes down in one of the most popular and successful movies of the franchise, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. And of course, its various twists and turns in desert landscapes make it a valid addition to this list. Released five years after Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, which received a lukewarm response from the audience, this one had every interesting element in it, from the Holy Grail to Adolf Hitler, and yet, despite the intricate and often complicated weaving between reality and fantasy that can be witnessed throughout the film, proves to be quite the extravaganza of thrilling adventure and nailbiting action. Raking in a cool $474 million, almost 10 times the amount it took to transform the script and bring it to the theaters, this movie was a success that still proves a great watch.

Lawrence of Arabia

While it is commonplace to see the most stunning visuals recreated by the magic of visual effects today, there was a time not so long ago when every nuance related to movies had to be painstakingly played out in the real world, and for that reason alone, Lawrence of Arabia deserves a place of note on this list. But then, as we all know, the movie is also regarded as the greatest of all time and there’s everything you needed to know about it. But we’ll tell you more anyway! Based on the life story of T.E. Lawrence and his pursuits as a British Army lieutenant, the film’s storyline pans out in the Nefud Desert and then the Sinai Desert, capturing in breathtaking detail the beauty as well as the tragedy that the vast plains bring to the people who live there. Taking audiences through an intricate tale that has as much humanity and friendship as it does bloodshed and massacres, Lawrence of Arabia has many accolades to its name, including ten Oscar nominations, out of which it won a whopping seven. Made on a budget of $15 million and raking in almost five times the amount at $70 million, even these high box office collections do not do justice to the cult status that the film enjoys.

Mad Max: Fury Road

One look at even the trailer of Mad Max: Fury Road will make you heave a sigh of relief that you are able to gulp down a glass of water without really having to go through so much trouble for it! In the quest for survival, and a water source in the most challenging of landscapes that has death, guns, and just about every challenge a post-apocalyptic setting can throw at you, Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron take audiences through one battle after another in the quest for freedom from bloodthirsty maniacs. And as Max and Furiosa fight it out, one cannot help but notice the extreme conditions the desert landscape all around them presents. With more than 2000 visual effect shots throughout the movie and most of the filming taking place at the Dorob National Park in Namibia, Mad Max: Fury Road is majorly set against the natural backdrop of the desert, which is why the realism hits you harder than most other movies. And of course, the visual effects and crazy action scenes make everything even better!

Let’s Head Back Into the Shade, Shall We?

Phew! That was quite a ride through the desert! And despite how things turn out in the end — well, there were a handful of happy endings out there — we’d never want to be in the shoes of any of the protagonists from this list of 10 Films Set in the Desert That Will Make Your Throats Go Dry! For while most of us would love to witness the beauty of the desert and all it beholds, we’d sure like to do it from afar! So, until we get to our next list, stay in the shade!Michael Douglas

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