Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Nigel Davenport, Michael Murphy, Lynne Frederick
Director: Saul Bass
Genres: Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
After a mysterious cosmic event, strange structures and patterns begin to appear in the desert. When scientists begin to investigate their origin, they're shocked to learn that they are the work of super intelligent ants. ... more »
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Samuel K. (Solvanda)
Reviewed on 8/7/2010...
One of the first Scifi books I read as a child...5th grade, I think. Have read it twice now. Got to see this vintage movie from the 70's after reading, many years later. Have seen it several times now...and shown this one to many friends through the years. This is a hardcore science fiction story. Modified ants versus scientists. Of course, Mankind doesn't have a chance...or does he??? Lots of fun this one.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
J. Callahan | Baton Rouge, LA, USA | 08/06/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"...one of my favorite science fiction films is released on DVD. Why did this take so long? Good transfer and widescreen, but no extras (see 42nd Street Forever Vol. 3: Exploitation Explosion for a trailer).
Phase IV is almost too obscure to approach a cult film status. I'd consider the story to be "hard" science fiction - an emphasis on science rather than fantastic plot devices. Amazing photography of real ants gives Phase IV the feel of a documentary. This is the only feature-length film directed by Saul Bass."
Could have been a little bit better, could have been much, m
Church of The Flaming Sword | 11/01/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If Phase IV were to be remade in 2008, brother, would it be bad. It would be polluted with CGI, the dialogue would consist of annoying catch phrases, there would be a stereotypical ethnic caricature or two, and the story would be dumbed down to accomodate the Roland Emmerich and Jerry Bruckheimer crowd. As it stands, it's still a pretty obscure film that I have not heard of until about 4 months ago.
The story is about a cosmic event (planetary alignment?) that forever alters the destiny of mankind. Some scientists see nothing coming from it, while others see the earth being torn about by the conflicting magnetic fields. What happens takes everyone by surprise because the changes affect something that most of us don't pay much attention to - ants. In a small Arizona community which could be indicative of the rest of the world, different ant species that would ordinarily be natural enemies have aligned with one another. Also, they have virtually eliminated the spider, beetle, and praying mantis populations that would prey upon them.
Two scientists, Ernest Hubbs (Nigel Davenport) and James Lesko (Michael Murphy), are sent to investigate this bizarre occurence. As the story progresses it becomes apparent that the two scientists have very different ways of solving the problem. Hubbs, who is the senior, believes it is a man-insect war in which only one species can win - and survive. Lesko, who specializes in cryptology, wants to try to communicate with the ants after he finds correlations between their movements and the signals they send to each other. Every measure that they take to learn about (or in Hubbs' case- combat) the ants is met with a countermeasure that strongly suggests that the insects' intelligence is growing geometrically.
Being totally unique in how it combines themes such as insect domination and evolution brought about by cosmic phenomena, Phase IV can seen as a cross between 2001 - A Space Odyssey and H.G. Wells' short story "Empire of the Ants" (which has little to do with the 1970s film starring Joan Collins). It has not much in the way of special effects since it insists on letting its ideas speak for it. What really makes the film is the stunning microphotography involving the ants themselves. I got a strange sense of enjoyment watching the scenes in which the little creatures were obviously communicating to each other or to the queen, but it was never made explicity clear what was being "said".
As good as Phase IV is in many regards, it suffers in a couple of others. For instance, Davenport's character degenerates into a typical mad scientist meets Captain Ahab. Also, English actress Lynne Frederick, who plays a teenage American girl, is just plain unbearable. She even slips on her accent in one scene. Great acting may not have been one the goals for the filmmakers here, but a grating "performance" such as hers is inexcusable.
Even if I can't quite call Phase IV a classic, I still found it pleasantly surprising. Some people may be put off by the low budget and the cheesy 1970s-ness of it all, but you could do worse by going to 3 or 4 out of every 5 movies the Hollywood Big Money puts out every Friday."
Superants vs. clueless humans.
Robert P. Beveridge | Cleveland, OH | 10/10/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Phase IV (Saul Bass, 1974)
Mid-seventies killer-bug flick of the type that was so popular right about then, but pretty good for having such a sedate pace. Two scientists, Lesko (Michael Murphy) and Hubbs (Nigel Davenport), head out into the American desert to study killer ants, but soon find those ants are far more intelligent than they-- or anyone-- had originally believed. After their initial attempt to kill the ants, they find Kendra (the late Lynne Frederick) hiding in the basement of a nearby house, and she, too, becomes part of the team when the ants isolate their base and start with concerted attacks.
Unlike most killer-bug movies, the ants in Phase IV never really show any supernatural powers; they do their thing not by having super-instincts (or, god help us, telekinesis), but by doing what ants do-- chewing through wires, building nests, biting people, that sort of thing. (Well, okay, not the whole time. But the supposed supernatural-ant-powers that crop up we never get any details about. It's like showing the monster's shadow rather than spending $15 million on special effects to show the monster, and by the time you get that far, it's almost believable.) It's almost minimalist in comparison to such flicks as Them! or Night of the Lepus. And therein lies its strength; the horror of the thing is that it halfway makes sense. It doesn't bludgeon the viewer about the head in any way.
This was Bass' only feature-length film (he spent most of his career as a title designer), and it makes one wonder what could have been had he chosen to direct a few more movies. Well worth seeking out. *** ½