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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 »

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 Robert Henderson ... Clete
Helen Horton 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:

Adapt or die. See more »


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English

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

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to actor Michael Murphy, director Saul Bass was very worried about British actress Lynne Frederick being able to sound suitably American for the film, since her character was supposed to be from Arizona. Bass made her run her lines over and over while he listened for any hint of a British accent. See more »

Goofs

The ant-queens seen are actually a species of wasps. This choice has been most probably made as to not seriously disturb several ant-states. However, ant-queens shed their wings when going into pregnancy and developing the huge white abdomen. It needs to be remarked that the choice for not ripping out the wasps' wings speaks in favor for the film makers. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Ernest D. Hubbs: You did your major work applying game theory to the language of killer whales.
James R. Lesko: Well, it seemed cheaper than applying it to roulette
Dr. Ernest D. Hubbs: Did you actually *succeed* in making positive contact with the whales?
James R. Lesko: Only with the emotionally disturbed.
Dr. Ernest D. Hubbs: How were you able to determine that?
James R. Lesko: We talked!
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

The French TV release is cut, the close-up on the scientist being devoured by ants is missing. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Pop Culture Beast's Halloween Horror Picks: Dogs (2015) 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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