This is for the 2015 (1st) edition of the list. For the 2016 (2nd) edition, go here.
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 keep typing stuff out, and then deleting it, because it is late, I've watched 8 films in the last 24 hours, and Phase IV has left me kind of flabbergasted. I had no idea that Saul Bass had directed a film, and I never would have thought that he would direct a film like this. Honestly, just seek this film out. I don't care if you absolutely hate the experience of watching this, because you'll at least be able to say that you have seen it, and that will pretty much make you be able to one up anyone who is talking about that weird film they saw the other day, at some dinner party you may happen to be attending. All credit goes to Colin the dude for wrecking my mind with this film.
A fascinating science fiction look at ants becoming intelligent and the chaos of humans and insects.
Choppy editing and performances the real star of this show is the breathtaking cinematography that captures the acting from the ants. Absolutely incredible work from insects and the way it is presented from the insects angle is outstanding.
There's Weird Cinema, and then there's Phase IV. It exists outside of my ability to describe the experience other than to say that there must have been some good drugs involved at some point during its conception.
There are no credible characters or lines of dialogue in Phase IV, but fortunately a substantial fraction focuses on the ants, the footage of which is deliciously creepy. Also very prescient in its portrayal of a war fought almost entirely at a distance, with sound and light instead of conventional weapons. In fact, it's as a war film, not a sci-fi or a horror film, that I find it most convincing.
one of the most gorgeously and uniquely photographed films I’ve likely ever seen. wistfully juxtaposes and enmeshes compelling, nature-based ant storylines with logic-heavy human scenarios that highlight the reliance on man-made technology. the ants constantly sacrifice their own lives for their cause by virtue of their intrinsic ignorance to the consequences; all that talking we do can withdraw our desired nobility.
2001: A Space Odyssey meets Them!, Saul Bass’s Phase IV sees the humble ant granted cryptic intelligence through a vague series of cosmological adjustments. From the beginning of the film, extreme close-up sequences depicting ant activity impose upon us a world to which we ordinarily have only the most limited awareness and access, both physically and visually. Yet here our knowledge of this unique perspective, so removed from our own, intensifies the conflict between us and “them,” as the ultra-organized ants range themselves against other earthly inhabitants, especially humans. The strange events begin in the US desert, and a duo of scientists, entrenched in a high-tech base of their own design, begin various experiments to solve the riddle of this mysterious ant-agonism (sorry). Ostensibly a thriller, but with little to pound the pulse, Phase IV’s virtue is rather its engrossingly moody visual mode and the creeping sense of the uncanny to which it gives rise.
wtf this wasnt antz
Meh, a let down, and about as bland as Michael Murphy. At the same time it's what you'd expect a movie made by Saul Bass to be - groovy imagery, and no sign of other talents. Unlike some balls to the walls 70s sci fi (like THE VISITOR) this is more like a normal B movie only cancelled as far as plot go - time is filled up with shots of ants and... well, if you want ants you've got 'em. Most of it looks like glorified stock footage. There's no point to it, nor is there enough going on in it story-wise to create much of a world or a sense of dread; it's just a cheap looking movie with ants and people who talk about things that supposedly is going on outside of the little room they're stuck in due to budget concerns.
The poster screams disaster movie, but it's cerebral science fiction about hyper-intelligent ants. An obsession with shapes, odd pacing, a droning score, and mesmerizing ant sequences make this one of the strangest and most memorable bug movies of all time.
The 2016 (2nd) edition of the list. You can see the original and more info here.
With a list of…