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Arizona ants mock the food chain on their way to a desert lab to get two scientists and a woman.
I was pretty curious as to the body of work the cinematographer of Phase IV is known for outside of this project, so I wanted to look him up. To show my level of maturity and let you know that you should take my opinions and observations with a grain of salt, I couldn't do anything but giggle at his name - Dick Bush. Although, wildlife photographer Ken Middleham was responsible for a majority of what we see in the film--the closeup photography of the ants. Normally I love this sort of stuff in nature documentaries, but the main difference here is that it's used in a film without a narrator giving tons of facts about the creatures we're watching.…
The story about an interspecies conflict for global conquest between man and ant is not exactly the sort of stuff I expected from famed film credits designer Saul Bass. A cool crime caper is more what I had in mind when I think of his style, and yet here’s Phase IV coming right out of left field. His only work as a director is a weird sci-fi/horror/war pastiche that deemphasizes the human drama while favoring the insects’ point of view, resulting in a refreshing take on the usual B-movie creature feature trope. Ants take center stage whereas the main actors are no more than tired caricatures. In contrast to the mindless, hulking beasts from the Atomic Age cautionary tale Them!,…
"We had quite a severe ant problem at the vineyard this year. I had Art Garfunkel come by with his compressor, and we created a total vacuum outside the house, and we blew the ants out the front door. But I'm sure you high-tech NASA people could care less about our resort-town ways."
Phase IV answers the ultimate cinematic question, what would happen if you mixed 2001: A Space Odyssey with Them!. This film would be the result. Though it is admittedly nowhere near as good as either of those seminal sci-fi works, it is a surprisingly well made, intelligent killer ant film, something which I don't get to say near often enough.
After a cosmic occurrence which prophets say will be the end of the world, humanity is surprised to find that nothing has changed the next day, at least that they can see. Deep within the acrid desert of the American Southwest an army is being forged. Ants from disparate species are joining forces and constructing massive towers, and soon they…
Not a typical science fiction or ecological thriller, Saul Bass's directorial outing, "Phase IV," is a low-key piece of work that is as remarkable for its style as it is anything else. With its closeup cinematography, lack of dialogue, and focus on the real power of nature, the film is a genre oddity. It may not be for everyone, but it is strangely compelling.
Feeling like a combination nature documentary, experimental science fiction film, and 1970s thriller, "Phase IV" is built around the attempts of two scientists to stave off an invasion from ants. The ants are not imbued with radioactive powers or other genre pretensions, they are simply dangerous in their massive, collective amounts.
The standard genre plotting gives…
I have seen the light, the light of Saul Bass and the directing career that never was. What evil had conspired in the universe to disown a man's visionary style into just one feature film? Douglas Trumbull at least got two! Only one from Bass? I bring up Trumbull because his Silent Running just about makes the perfect double-bill night with Phase IV which, funnily enough, is a film that could justifiably be considered the 2001 of killer animals movies. There's no looking at ants the same way again after watching Phase IV.
I see a lot of glowing reviews here, yet this movie was such a turd.
I knew going in the effects were gonna be bad from the year it was made, and it was literally nothing more then simple ant footage, no actual ant attacks or anything.
The acting was boring, the story was dull and the movie was just a massive snooze-fest.
I guess I could never understand why these people were so threatened by the ants that kept them around.
Entomophobia heightened to mysterium tremendum.
I bet Vladimir Lenin loves this movie and shows it to all his ghost friends. Witness the self-sacrificing heroic altruism of the ants in opposition to an inordinately stronger foe and tell me this doesn't feel a little like a Soviet propaganda film.
Is it bad that I was kind of rooting for the ants?
I'd be lying if I said that the only reason I added this to my watchlist was because of the poster. However after adding it, I noticed just how many lists it kept popping up on and with good reason.
Now forget the poster.
It doesn't do the film justice. It's a smart sci-fi movie about making contact with a colony of ants that have taken over a small patch of desert. It has some amazing close up photography of ants and insects and some special effects that still hold up to this day.
My only gripe is that it's only 80 minutes long. I could easily have had another 20-30 minutes.
Besides some striking visuals, I'm not sure what I expected from the only directorial effort of regular Hitchock opening title designer/movie poster trailblazer Saul Bass. Phase IV has a similarly bleak feel to British seventies science fiction, to the point I'm surprised Nigel Kneale had nothing to do with it. Genuinely creepy despite the goofy-on-paper premise, with brilliant use of real ant footage and theremin.
1974. Directed Saul Bass.
An absolutely insane visual head trip, and legendary artist Saul Bass's only feature film, Phase IV is a science fiction horror mind ripper that asks impossibly complex questions and offers few explanations. The definition of high art, this is a film that will infuriate as much as it entrances, using stunning micro-cinematography to capture an insect revolution from the inside out.
A cosmic event endows the ant population of Arizona with a higher form of intelligence. They become a hive mind and begin to erect strange pillars in the desert. A scientific duo, along with a hold out family, begin a war against the increasingly dangerous insects. One of the scientists believes that ants…
Aggression vs. intelligence vs. ants with the lovely Lynne Frederick. I, for one, welcome our formic acid spraying overlords!
Visually very stylish and based on an interesting concept. For its time it also doesn't succumb to its b movie premise and try's hard to be (relatively) intellectual, though the dialogue is a bit naff.
2000 movies with less than 10,000 votes on imdb that are interesting watches
*Not listed, "The Opening of Misty Beethoven",…