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Phase IV (1974)

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

Director:

Saul Bass

Writer:

Mayo Simon
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Cast

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

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

Taglines:

When you can't scream anymore! See more »


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director Saul Bass has said in interviews that the studio tampered with the film during post production against his wishes. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

[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 Paramount logo is not shown at the start of the film, and there are no opening credits. 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; 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 this alternate ending (or the theatrical trailer). It hasn't been until 2020 that the alternate ending has been made available officially outside theatrical revival showings. It is included as an extra on the Apple TV release of the film, and on 101 Film's Blu-Ray release in the UK. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010) See more »

User Reviews

 
Phases of Horror and Psychedelic Art
18 November 2013 | by briandoering86See all my reviews

When one hears of a sci-fi film about the massing of hyper-intelligent ants one immediately constructs a mental imagine of something akin to Them! (1954) with its ridiculous, though iconic, monster ants barely functioning well enough to move. However, Phase IV is an entirely different movie…and ant for that matter. Phase IV is nothing short of a sci-fi film for the "thinking man". While being fully aware of the genre's motifs its cinematic approach is that of the art-house – a 70s psychedelic sci-fi trip shrouded in hordes of ants directed by the famous Academy Award winning graphic designer, Saul Bass. For all this, its status in film history is nothing but a tragedy. It's the only feature film directed by Bass and it's almost completely forgotten and certainly isn't readily available for viewing.

The story is fairly simple: some undefined cosmic event occurs and augments ant evolution. This particular desert colony ascends to an intelligent collective consciousness making the ants capable of communication and great terror. The colony, per its aggressive expansion, drives out the local human population. A scientific lab is established with our main scientist protagonists. The proceedings eventually lead to a division between the two scientists and some inevitable chaos.

The brilliance of this film is the visual component. The cinematography by Dick Bush (not kidding) is in line with the best of the 70s. Furthermore, there are also a lot of interestingly beautiful shots of the colony and ant behavior. Straight away at the start of the film we are presented some truly striking images of the ant intelligence movement for several minutes – no dialog, no humans, just cinematic language.

In short one could say, If you're the type of person annoyed by a Space Odyssey or even Blade Runner, then you're the type of person that shouldn't watch Phase IV. However, if you're a total film buff and/or sci-fi nerd I highly recommend you seek out this hard to find, underrated, masterpiece – you will not regret it.

Review from Beguiled: http://brianbeguiled.blogspot.com/


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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

September 1974 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Phase IV See more »

Filming Locations:

Rift Valley, Kenya See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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