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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:

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

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, 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 »

Connections

Featured in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Phase IV (1989) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Harrowing, hallucinatory and altogether fascinating
8 August 2013 | by lemon_magicSee all my reviews

While it's true that "Phase IV" is rather slow moving in spots, and that the human characters are ciphers with no real depth to speak of, "Phase IV" is a nice sally at an experimental science fiction film that emphasizes mood and dread over action and character development.

I had the good fortune to watch this on a really large flat screen TV, and the amazing insect photography (major kudos to the editor who managed to integrate it so completely into the story!) and dissonant synthesizer laden sound track come through nicely with good viewing equipment - they add the proper utterly alien and inhuman feel to the movie and turn something pretty good into something really creep and spooky.

Although the characters are admittedly pretty flat, that's undoubtedly on purpose. "Phase IV" is all about the subjection of the human characters to the overwhelming power of a hive mind where "personality" is besides the point. Even so, Nigel Davenport brings the good stuff to his role as the biologist trying to contain the ants, and you both know everything you need to know and everything you'll ever know about in the first five minutes...without ever knowing him at all.

An ambiguous and otherworldly/mystical ending might not sit well with a lot of viewers who like their science fiction movies to wrap things up by the end. And, OK, the goofy little montage at the end with the mathematician and the gamin doesn't really match the quality of the hallucinatory insect footage that preceded it.

Still, Saul Bass knew how to present an otherworldly, truly alien experience, but he was probably just too far ahead of his time.

A classic of sorts.


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