Phase IV (1974) Intelligent Killer Ant Attack

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What better film to follow up Them but with another bunch of crazed, demented six legged psychopathic ant nut jobs than the 1974 film Phase IV. This feature is filled with visually luscious images and gorgeous landscape design, it’s quite the wonder to look at. But please be forewarned that you spend the runtime scratching like a shaggy dog. Oh my fur was twitching and an itching like crazy right through this creepy crawly movie. Even the eerie music gets under the skin. Essential item to have with you whilst watching is a personal back scratcher or two, down a bit, ooo to left a bit ooo thats it, thats the spot. A big thanks goes out to Lieutenant’s Nina Barry and Gay Ellis from UFO in helping me with my itching, you did a grand job….

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Lieutenant’s Nina Barry and Gay Ellis popped in to help with my ants in my pants problem

Right onto the plot! Did I say it’s got a load of ants in it? Tons of the pesky critters.

Well these guys get a rather big dose of cosmic rays when some planets align and the Sun shines through making them super intelligent. They then go all thug like and smash up the local area and build themselves a manor, a strange looking future council estate.

Tagline – “Ravenous Invaders Controlled by a Terror Out in Space Commanded to Annihilate the World!”

Then arrive our two scientists Dr. Ernest D. Hubbs (Nigel Davenport) and James R. Lesko (Michael Murphy) who set up a dome and perform all kinds of tests and experiments on the ants whilst getting attacked from all angles by these enhanced looneys. Throw in some suicidal ants, a bunch of analogue synths, beeping and buzzing computers, scientist tension and a stray young girl, Kendra Eldridge (Lynne Frederick) and you get yourself all the key ingredients for a mad 80 minutes of fun.

Now the film ends on a pretty wacky note but what appeared some years later was a 5 minute cut scene which is one hellova trip-festing mind gravy moment. Check the Youtube video down the page to see the original cut ending.

Tagline – “The Day The Earth Was Turned Into A Cemetery!”

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The greatest thing about this film is that it is director Saul Bass first and only full length film and that as it didn’t do too well at the box office I assume he called it quits and went running straight back to the day job. Now that day job, of being a graphic designer, will blow your mind if you didn’t know who he was because you have seen his work and influence everywhere. Just check the poster work for some of the greatest films ever made. (17 Coolest Saul Bass Posters) but you can tick off Psycho, The Man with the Golden Arm, North By Northwest, Ocean’s 11, The Shining just to note a few.To add that he helped on many great film opening title scenes. Awesome guy.

Here’s one of my favorites.

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Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo poster by Saul Bass

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It’s quite upsetting that Phase IV maybe not doing too well seemed to put Saul Bass off doing another full movie because I’m sure he had a wealth of cool ideas which could have spawned a load of excellent risk taking films. Unfortunately we will never know but Phase IV  has become a Cult Classic and very rightly so.

One last note, the electronic soundtrack is exquisite and performed by pianist and composer Brian Gascoigne.

Here’s the trailer.

Here’s the LOST, cut, tripped out original ending

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Links For Further Reading

Phase IV IMDB

Saul Bass Wikipedia

Short Documentary – Saul Bass- Style is Substance

Pitchfork Phase IV OST Reissue Review

Phase IV Wikipedia

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