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Phase IV (Phase Four)

Phase IV (Phase Four) (1974)

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Release Date: Sep 1, 1974 Wide

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59

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Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 1,069

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Movie Info

Saul Bass had a fascinating career as an animator and as designer of title sequences for a number of notable films, including Psycho, Vertigo, Anatomy Of A Murder and Seconds. However, Phase IV was his only credit as director of a feature film. A visually inventive science-fiction story, Phase IV concerns a group of research scientists working in the Arizona desert who find themselves confronted by an Army of super-intelligent mutant ants. The results are more intelligent than the description

Jun 3, 2008

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All Critics (11) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (5) | Rotten (1) | DVD (5)

Should forever dispel anyone's image of ants as little black dots

February 27, 2009 Full Review
rec.arts.movies.reviews

A killer bug flick upgraded for the downbeat 70s, a small scale B-picture reworked for the post-2001 hard sci-fi set.

November 18, 2008 Full Review Source: DVDTalk.com
DVDTalk.com

With its amazing bug footage, and psychobabble scripting, it's The Hellstrom Chronicle (an obvious influence) taken into Twilight Zone territory

July 12, 2008 Full Review Source: PopMatters
PopMatters

Audience Reviews for Phase IV (Phase Four)

How did Saul Bass not direct more films? This little gem from 1974 is AWESOMELY shot. Did I mention the cinematographers name was Dick Bush? So much amazing cutaway and macro work. That combined with tight editing makes Phase IV is the 2001 of "we're being attacked ants!" movies.

Now I know what your saying,
"Saul Bass, the title sequence goto guy for Hitchcock and Scorsese? Made a movie about being attacked by ants? This has to be a joke. I mean Dick Bush?

Yes, THAT Saul Bass made a really intelligent film about a colony of intelligent ants and it's very much worth checking out.
January 8, 2011
kenstachnik

Super Reviewer

"Phase IV" is an oddball, low-budget sci-fi flick from that heady, post-"2001: A Space Odyssey" era before "Star Wars" ruined the genre forever. Two thoughtful scientists are isolated in a Southwest desert laboratory, researching a theory that local ant tribes have gained human-level intelligence and organized themselves into a super-colony eventually poised to subjugate man and take over the world. Once the ants outside learn of this work, they surround the lab and put the scientists (along with a vacant ingenue who survived a nearby attack) under siege. The action is divided into four "phases," delineating stages of the ants' elaborate campaign. This is not some knowingly campy "monster movie" -- it is deadly serious, without any trace of humor.

"Phase IV" is not a great film, due to its tiny cast and scope (there's barely more than one set). However, it's much better than it sounds. The closeup footage of ants is remarkable in suggesting an insect conspiracy, and the orange-tinged color scheme beautifully illustrates the arid heat (a crucial plot point). As the dedicated scientists, Nigel Davenport and Michael Murphy fully commit to making a superficially silly premise seem plausible, and Brian Gascoigne adds a moody synthesizer score with plenty of atmosphere. Interestingly, this was director Saul Bass's only feature. Otherwise, he had a long career as a title designer.

On YouTube, one can find a "lost ending" that is visually brilliant but not necessarily good for the film's narrative shape.
June 30, 2014
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer

Saul Bass kicks ass! After making many memorable opening credit sequences Bass finally makes his directorial debut. Artistic, gorgeous and disturbing, I'm surprised this isn't at least considered a horror classic let alone a movie classic. Sadly this was Bass' only directorial effort.
February 6, 2008
cacutshaw

Super Reviewer

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