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Phase IV (1974)

Desert ants suddenly form a collective intelligence and begin to wage war on the desert inhabitants. It is up to two scientists and a stray girl they rescue from the ants to destroy them. ... See full summary »


Saul Bass


Mayo Simon

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Complete credited cast:
Nigel Davenport ... Dr. Ernest D. Hubbs
Michael Murphy ... James R. Lesko
Lynne Frederick ... Kendra Eldridge
Alan Gifford ... Mr. Eldridge
Robert Henderson Robert Henderson ... Clete
Helen Horton Helen Horton ... Mildred Eldridge


Desert ants suddenly form a collective intelligence and begin to wage war on the desert inhabitants. It is up to two scientists and a stray girl they rescue from the ants to destroy them. But the ants have other ideas. Written by Niz

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


When you can't scream anymore! See more »


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

September 1974 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Du tror inte dina ögon See more »

Filming Locations:

Rift Valley, Kenya See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


According to actor Michael Murphy, actress Lynne Frederick was required to wear a sort of corset during filming so that she would appear more flat-chested. Kendra, the character she played, was supposed to be about 16 years old (four years younger than she really was at the time), and the director wanted to minimize her voluptuous figure. See more »


During one of the scenes inside the dome, Lynne Frederick speaks with a English accent instead of the American accent she uses during the rest of the film. See more »


[last lines]
James R. Lesko: [voiceover] We knew then, that we were being changed... and made part of their world. We didn't know for what purpose... but we knew, we would be told.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The title is not revealed until the end credits. It is divided into segments "Phase I," Phase II," and "Phase III," and only at the very end when Phase IV is reached is the title ever given. See more »

Alternate Versions

In the book "Future Tense" by John Brosnan, an alternate ending to the film was described: "Bass originally filmed a spectacular, surreal montage lasting four minutes, showing what life would be like in the 'new' Earth, but this was cut by the distributor." A preview version with this ending intact was shown to some audiences in 1973-4, and clips of it showed up in film's the theatrical trailer, and in Saul Bass' title sequence to Martin Scorcese's Cape Fear (1991). The alternate ending and preview version did not resurface until 2012. The 35mm original footage of the ending was scanned and color corrected (it had faded to magenta) by the Academy Film Archive. Beginning in 2013, repertory showings of the film (for instance at Cinefamily and Anthology Film Archives) have shown a DCP of this alternate ending after the main feature. Because Paramount would not license the footage, the 2015 Blu-Ray release by Olive Films doesn't include either the alternate ending or the theatrical trailer. See more »


Referenced in Pi (1998) See more »

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User Reviews

More of an essay than a story, but still recommended viewing
27 August 2002 | by Dr WilySee all my reviews

Phase IV is not your average movie experience. Definitely not for everyone, so, see it if you get the chance (Last I saw it was a 1997 airing on The Sci-Fi Channel.) and decide if it's for you.

It's even hard to generalize WHAT the movie is about. On the surface, a colony of ants has gained a heightened level of intelligence and has apparently decided to drive out the local people. A group of surviving scientists, who were examining the ant phenomenon, rescue a wandering woman, and they become "trapped" in the "laboratory." The lead researcher then goes nutters over trying to determine what the ants are doing and getting nowhere because, well, ants and humans just aren't natural conversationalists. And the story ends... well, it just ends. What did the ants want? Did they take over the woman's body at the end? Did they the one surviving scientist, or, did he "join" them, just come to reason with them, what? Plus, what ARE the other three "Phases?"

Now, I first saw this film on Beta in 1985 and on VHS many time since, the last being the aforementioned 1997 airing. I've read the reviews here, and, WHERE are people getting the alien intelligence taking over the ants from?! I've been watching this movie for 15 plus years, and, I can't recall any aliens mentioned. An alien influence on the ants WOULD make a bit more sensical motivation for the ants, but, I don't recall this stated even as a theory anywhere in the movie. I welcome anyone to e-mail me and let me know where it is in the film, because, I may have just failed to catch it.

So, why would I recommend it? This movie manages to effectively pull you into the story without any of the excess baggage one would expect from a nature gets its revenge picture. No drawn out "battle" sequences, like "Empire Of The Ants." The event has happened, so, there's no need to express it with cheap special effects. The story hinges instead on the aftermath, how people deal with it, the scientific community's response, all the time presenting a prevailing air of mystery as to why the ants did it. The casual viewer will be disappointed by its rather quizzical ending because it doesn't "resolve" the question of what the ants want or were doing in a clean cut package. In fact, it doesn't GIVE an answer. It opens up the floor to debate, so to speak, where your own questions about it allow you to formulate your own "message" from the ending. Can we live with the ants? Can the ants live with us? Do either sides want to?

Many would also find this film boring because of the lack of "action" sequences until the end, pretty much summed up when the nutter scientist is consumed in a pit of ants. Instead, the film builds up suspense with effective small shots of the ants themselves. Ants moving through technical equipment to "sabotage" it. Ants moving through their tunnels, reflecting a genuine "sinister" sense, a sort of "What are they planning, if anything?" atmosphere. Ants moving over furniture, people. Nothing over done with an army of ants crawling all over the place, people screaming as they drown in a flood of insects (Save the one scientist, I suppose.) It doesn't dumb itself down with exploitive action sequences.

In the end, the film doesn't insult a viewer's intelligence. IF someone doesn't get anything out of about it, the film just lets them be. For others, it opens up the floor with unresolved questions, but, does not hinge on them, like so many cop out endings. You're left to reach your own conclusions, but not as a crutch, to avoid having to write an ending or a low budget, etc.

An interesting film if you can ever find it. If you do, watch it and decide for yourself. It's one of the few movies made that lets you choose whether to like it or not, and goes along with that.

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