I must confess, I wouldn’t be as much of a movie fan as I am now if it weren’t for…
Adapt or die.
Ants form a collective intelligence and attack humankind. Two scientists fight back.
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.
Watching the film now, it seems obviously far ahead of its time while also being very much a product of the 1970s. This was a decade in which a number of thoughtful, intelligent science fiction films were made, and Phase IV is certainly a highlight among them.
Full review of the Olive Films Blu-ray here: www.filmmonthly.com/film/phase-iv
Poetic, creepy, and fascinating.
The first and only directional effort from movie poster artist Saul Bass, Phase IV is an surreal, intriguing and rather unappreciated sci-fi tale. The poster makes it come across as a B-flick about killer ants, though it's much more deeper than that.
It's setting is confined to a desert in Arizona where a colony of highly evolved and intelligent ants reside. A group of scientists visit the desert where they plan on researching the extraordinary behavior of the ants, though difficulties in their research arise as the ants grow more hostile and aggressive, with the scientists holed up in their dome facility.
Bass shows as much creativity here as he does with his poster art, as his camerawork and direction…
It is a major bummer that the director's cut wasn't available for the Blu release, but the theatrical is still worth owning, and the Blu looks great.
A film that will give my routine of massacring the ants that swarm my cat's food bowl ~4 times a week an extra moment's pause.
Such a fun sci-fi flick. Very low key, with a ton of close-up ant scenes. Nigel Davenport, Michael Murphy and Lynne Frederick are excellent in this one. A lot of tech that is dated but actually looks like it was made recently. Some creepy scenes. The movie doesn't make a ton of sense at times but I enjoyed it. This move was made in 1974 but looks like it could have been made more recently.
It crept up on me how smart and contemplative this movie is. And by the end, it filled me with existential dread.
Active viewing required. Keep your mind on.
Style matches content as the film becomes progressively unhuman.
Okay but what if just the alternate ending with all the trippy insane stuff?
I'm posting this list earlier than normal as I'm not sure I'll be around much next week.
For the purposes…
they try to bury them under mountains of "popular on facebook" junk, but there is actually a ton of old…