Phase IV

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I disliked this movie as a kid, so dry and slow. Then I was drawn back to it by
childhood memories, it's all pretty odd, and still slow with a lot of
fairly long, detail closeups of ants pondering machinery and so on...

It almost has an instructional, Open University vibe in parts.

Not sure how I feel about it still, it has a poor (but somewhat typical) ending
and the scientific chest-beating element gets a bit wearing.

I came across this link in which someone has posted a lot of isolated shots,
all of them are strangely beautiful. I was also unaware that it was Saul Bass'
only film. Which possibly explains the lovely colour and detail in the stills.

http://www.goofbutton.com/2008/09/saul_bass_phase_iv.html

Any love for this film?

MaresNest, Tuesday, 16 December 2008 15:04 (eleven years ago) link

the soundtrack is excellent.

ǝɟɟɐzǝɟ (☪), Tuesday, 16 December 2008 15:13 (eleven years ago) link

lotsa love on ilx for phase iv. you can check me + milton parker blabbing about it here: The 1970's Science Fiction Movie Poll

Edward III, Tuesday, 16 December 2008 15:15 (eleven years ago) link

it just came out on DVD this summer, makes a perfect stocking stuffer for the headz in yr family

Edward III, Tuesday, 16 December 2008 15:18 (eleven years ago) link

I have a vivid childhood memory of watching phase iv on a hot summer afternoon after school, drifting in and out of sleep, mixing it in my dreams. my love of the film is rooted as much in that memory as it is in how good it is.

thanks for that link, screenshots are awes.

http://www.goofbutton.com/images/phase_iv%20(23).jpg

Edward III, Tuesday, 16 December 2008 15:32 (eleven years ago) link

I just watched this the other day. 2/3rds of the way through it seemed like some bitching Ant-dromeda Strain but the ending – what? WHAT?

uh, WHAT?

Abbott of the Trapezoid Monks (Abbott), Tuesday, 16 December 2008 17:54 (eleven years ago) link

Psychedelic ant love utopia cosmic ant sex union?

Abbott of the Trapezoid Monks (Abbott), Tuesday, 16 December 2008 17:55 (eleven years ago) link

The ant structures reminded me a lot of this.

Abbott of the Trapezoid Monks (Abbott), Tuesday, 16 December 2008 17:59 (eleven years ago) link

More specifically, this part of it.

Abbott of the Trapezoid Monks (Abbott), Tuesday, 16 December 2008 18:00 (eleven years ago) link

Nice Link!

thanks for the link to those screen shots. this one has been waiting to be my desktop for a long time.

Yes it's classic for every reason, Saul Bass trading in every insider favor accumulated over a Hollywood career to direct his first film, and the film ends up being this.

Music by David Vorhaus but he raided the BBC Radiophonic Workshop soundbed archive hard, you can hear some of those same drones from the 60's Doctor Who episodes & the White Noise An Electric Storm album.

There's a great article in Cinefex No. 3 with Ken Middleham who did the insect photography for Phase IV, basically in his garage studio. I ordered the copy of the article because I had to know how a film that was obviously this scripted & storyboarded out could possibly have starred real ants, it's a great story: basically, a lot of ants were definitely harmed in the making of this film. He also goes into the original ending, which actually depicts Phase IV's Ant / Human hybrid world through a psychedelic three minute abstract collage which the distributors cut from the film for being too confusing. I'm hoping that footage can be found & restored at some point.

Ken's earlier film is the next stop if you liked this, not on DVD but I found a torrent.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hellstrom_Chronicle

Milton Parker, Tuesday, 16 December 2008 19:24 (eleven years ago) link

thanks abbott, now I have song titles for my unrecorded album

* Landscape of Thorns
* Spike Field
* Spikes Bursting Through Grid
* Leaning Stone Spikes
* Menacing Earthworks
* Forbidding Blocks

Edward III, Wednesday, 17 December 2008 15:11 (eleven years ago) link

phase iv has no beginning credits, but has interstitials throughout the film marking the beginning of each phase and the last one is PHASE IV roll end credits slow clap saul bass = genius

would love to see the lost end sequence footage

Edward III, Wednesday, 17 December 2008 15:22 (eleven years ago) link

i just saw this film a couple weeks back, it's pretty great. all the shots like the ones shown in the screen caps and the weirdly fascinating pseudo-science chatter is kinda hypnotic.

the stickup man from the gripping "wire" television show (omar little), Wednesday, 17 December 2008 16:13 (eleven years ago) link

two months pass...

wow. this movie. wow.

(jaxon) ( .) ( .) (jaxon), Monday, 9 March 2009 19:32 (eleven years ago) link

ten months pass...

Finally got around to this -- as striking and strange as one could want. I got a pretty clear sense that Chris Carter had to have this in mind for a lot of his work -- the research station in this made me think of the beehive station in the middle of nowhere from the first X-Files movie.

Question, though -- is there any word as to whether the opening voiceover was a last minute studio addition? Not Nigel Davenport's initial thoughts some minutes in but the very first thing from Michael Murphy when the 'Phase I' eclipse starts up -- in watching the film through twice I had a feeling that voiceover was tacked on, less like Harrison Ford in Blade Runner than like Kiefer Sutherland at the start of Dark City, which, yeah, explained a bit of stuff but didn't feel needed in the end and ended up undercutting the impact of the story a bit first time through.

Ned Raggett, Saturday, 30 January 2010 18:08 (ten years ago) link

four months pass...

this movie is fucking awesome btw

haha this was recommended to me recently by mr amazon

Don't look at the finger (Ste), Wednesday, 2 June 2010 20:43 (ten years ago) link

one year passes...

Ken's earlier film is the next stop if you liked this, not on DVD but I found a torrent.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hellstrom_Chronicle

― Milton Parker, Tuesday, December 16, 2008 2:24 PM (3 years ago)

incredibly, now out on blu-ray

http://www.olivefilms.com/films/the-hellstrom-chronicle-blu-ray/

I GUESS THAT CINNABON GETTIN EATEN (Edward III), Thursday, 8 March 2012 17:17 (eight years ago) link

It's basically a cross between proto-Animal Planet and Rod Serling's Night Gallery. Probably shouldn't have been rated G.

Milton Parker, Thursday, 8 March 2012 19:08 (eight years ago) link

http://twitchfilm.com/reviews/2012/01/the-hellstrom-chronicle-blu-ray-review.php

Professor Hellstrom, a famous entomologist, is so shaken by the savagery and ferocity of the predatory insect world that he films this "documentary" to warn mankind of its danger. Featuring stunning microphotography of a variety of insects and plants that include ultra close-ups of wars between ant colonies and a gigantic praying mantis practicing cannibalism. This unusual blend of horror film and nature study won an Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1972.

The victim in this film, the one who should be hiding in the closet with a knife waiting to fend of his eventual enemy, is you, the viewer.

Milton Parker, Thursday, 8 March 2012 19:10 (eight years ago) link

ha, damn, the review mentions the film's one spoiler. drat. is better not to know going in.

Milton Parker, Thursday, 8 March 2012 19:11 (eight years ago) link

I am watching The Hellstrom Chronicle right now and it is FANTASTIC

owenf, Thursday, 8 March 2012 21:50 (eight years ago) link

I have to see both these movies.

(he did what!) (Austerity Ponies), Thursday, 8 March 2012 21:54 (eight years ago) link

Oooh!

Love Phase IV

who is the "Ken" referred to in the first post tho

first post of this revive, that is

Hellstrom Chronicle is on Youtube in like 10 min parts. Might buy the blu-ray though. This is basically my idea of heaven, evil dead style narration and vicious animal warfare.

owenf, Thursday, 8 March 2012 22:00 (eight years ago) link

Phase IV: The Microcosmic World of Ken Middleham
Cinefex Issue 3 - Article by Don Shay

Phase IV was anything but a typical science fiction film. No spaceships, no alien invaders, no unleashed technological horrors - just ants. But not ordinary ants. Ants with geometric patterns emblazoned on their foreheads; ants unafraid to engage a praying mantis in battle; ants that bestow ceremonial honors on their fallen dead; and ants that transport crystals of posionous material in a suicidal death march. Ace macro cinematographer Ken Middleham discusses the creation and photography of these uncharacteristic ant behaviors.

Milton Parker, Thursday, 8 March 2012 22:17 (eight years ago) link

shot of tarantula's face (?) where you can see a fly reflected in its eyes is amazing. what a great film.

Probably shouldn't have been rated G.

I find myself saying this about other scifi movies of the era - destroy all monsters, beneath the planet of the apes, planet of the apes, and the andromeda strain come to mind, all have pretty violent/disturbing scenes, with (not that I care) nudity in the latter two. MPAA, what happened to you?

diamanda ram dass (Edward III), Wednesday, 14 March 2012 21:31 (eight years ago) link

bummed that netflix has the DVD of hellstrom chronicle but not blu-ray

diamanda ram dass (Edward III), Wednesday, 14 March 2012 21:39 (eight years ago) link

two weeks pass...

The end of the trailer for phase IV clearly uses a few shots from the original ending of the film

The directors cut has got to be out there somewhere

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuhgBvOWb_k

Milton Parker, Friday, 30 March 2012 02:41 (eight years ago) link

god I wish that would get discovered

milton maybe you can be the ray carney to saul bass' cassavetes

diamanda ram dass (Edward III), Friday, 30 March 2012 15:15 (eight years ago) link

two months pass...

!!

johnny crunch, Monday, 25 June 2012 23:36 (eight years ago) link

phase iv is super creepy & psychedelic, with some of the best acting by real ants ever filmed and a great burbling electronic score. I was talking to a friend who had vague memories of seeing it as a child, but he had perfect recall when it came to the scene where ants started crawling out of the 3 circular holes in a dead guy's hand.

DVD NOW PLZ

-- Edward III, Wednesday, 19 March 2008 14:35 (3 months ago) Link

DVD GODZ HAVE ANSWERED MY PRAYERS

― Edward III, Wednesday, July 9, 2008 4:35 PM (3 years ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

The end of the trailer for phase IV clearly uses a few shots from the original ending of the film

The directors cut has got to be out there somewhere

http://www.youtube.com/v/IuhgBvOWb_k&fs=1&hl=en

― Milton Parker, Thursday, March 29, 2012 10:41 PM (2 months ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

god I wish that would get discovered

milton maybe you can be the ray carney to saul bass' cassavetes

― diamanda ram dass (Edward III), Friday, March 30, 2012 11:15 AM (2 months ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

2 months pass...

HOLY

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/saul-bass-phase-iv-original-ending-cinefamily-paramount-341449

― Ned Raggett, Monday, June 25, 2012 6:15 PM (Yesterday)

my phase iv precog is strong

diamanda ram dass (Edward III), Tuesday, 26 June 2012 04:28 (eight years ago) link

And for that we thank you.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 26 June 2012 05:24 (eight years ago) link

this would be the point in a twilight zone episode where I'd say I like the film so much I wish it would come true

diamanda ram dass (Edward III), Tuesday, 26 June 2012 05:53 (eight years ago) link

haha what the what

diamanda ram dass (Edward III), Tuesday, 26 June 2012 16:23 (eight years ago) link

venn diagram of baseball fans & apocalyptic insect enthusiasts

diamanda ram dass (Edward III), Tuesday, 26 June 2012 16:25 (eight years ago) link

That's fucking ILX in a nutshell! It's obvious that's Morbz right there!

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 26 June 2012 16:25 (eight years ago) link

so awesome this has been found. great news.

a dense custard of infinity (Shakey Mo Collier), Tuesday, 26 June 2012 18:17 (eight years ago) link

LOTS OF LOVE FOR THIS FILM.

Matt M., Monday, 2 July 2012 04:42 (eight years ago) link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHWSAZ3fZsQ

Elvis Telecom, Monday, 2 July 2012 07:30 (eight years ago) link

Hey, did you go to either of the showings of the film the last couple weekends? I was told that the suppressed ending was going to be screened, but friends who went just last night said that the ending wasn't shown, due to objections by the estate. What gives?

Matt M., Monday, 2 July 2012 15:30 (eight years ago) link

Cinefamily did mention that the re-discovered ending would only be shown on 24 June. I went to the showing on Thursday... still processing it. I'm not sure if it's even reviewable in the traditional sense.

Man I wish someone would DVD-R release all of Omni Magazine.

Elvis Telecom, Monday, 2 July 2012 21:13 (eight years ago) link

Ah, interesting. I'd assumed that once the ending was out there that it'd be shown again.

Or it would at least show up on the net...

Would buy a DVD of OMNI in a heartbeat. Maybe less.

Matt M., Monday, 2 July 2012 23:18 (eight years ago) link

one year passes...

also online: audience-cam from the phase iv cinefamily screening

Milton Parker, Monday, 22 July 2013 19:14 (seven years ago) link

WHERE

truth bomb lawyer mean mean pride (Edward III), Tuesday, 23 July 2013 18:50 (seven years ago) link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=beLpsWaUDNk

Milton Parker, Sunday, 28 July 2013 22:28 (seven years ago) link

thanking u

truth bomb lawyer mean mean pride (Edward III), Monday, 29 July 2013 17:55 (seven years ago) link

maybe it's just as well they took that out, it would've blown my childhood mind beyond all repair

truth bomb lawyer mean mean pride (Edward III), Monday, 29 July 2013 18:02 (seven years ago) link

two months pass...

The lost ending is without a doubt the coolest thing I have ever seen. I still need to see this movie though.

Are there any other films that have this style trippy amazing 70s psych montage? It is beyond cool.

Emperor Cos Dashit (Adam Bruneau), Thursday, 3 October 2013 20:22 (six years ago) link

Oh yeah, "Quest" is pretty cool too!

Emperor Cos Dashit (Adam Bruneau), Thursday, 3 October 2013 20:22 (six years ago) link

mr bass and mr middleham would have loved these

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IugvemOyZY

Milton Parker, Thursday, 10 October 2013 17:51 (six years ago) link

three weeks pass...

RIP Nigel Davenport.

hewing to the status quo with great zealotry (DavidM), Monday, 4 November 2013 15:08 (six years ago) link

one year passes...

oh shiiiiit cool! What was obviously the intended album assembly of the OST leaked to the soundtrack nerd forums last year, in listenable but not great sound. Hopefully this is a higher-fi version of that!

Some good reading here (and on uncanny film scoring in general):

http://www.electricsheepmagazine.co.uk/features/2011/10/19/phase-iv-synthphony-for-the-ant-nation/

a date with density (Jon Lewis), Friday, 20 February 2015 18:55 (five years ago) link

ugh this is so good

is Waxworks a vinyl only label or am I going to be able to buy this?

a date with density (Jon Lewis), Friday, 20 February 2015 22:25 (five years ago) link

one month passes...

vinyl only, looks like :-(

the late great, Tuesday, 31 March 2015 05:08 (five years ago) link

oh well glad I downloaded the soundcloud stream even if was only 128 bit.

demonic mnevice (Jon Lewis), Tuesday, 31 March 2015 15:19 (five years ago) link

five years pass...

Finally saw this! Generally amazing. Cut 'utopian' ending is also findable now.

brooklyn suicide cult (Dr Morbius), Saturday, 27 June 2020 21:34 (one month ago) link

The recent super deluxe Blu-Ray (Euro only) has the lost ending.

but also fuck you (unperson), Saturday, 27 June 2020 21:41 (one month ago) link

one month passes...

On Talking Pictures right now. Pretty great so far.

Sonny Shamrock (Tom D.), Friday, 31 July 2020 21:33 (one week ago) link

I’m still waiting for a bluray I ordered back in ... March?

assert (MatthewK), Friday, 31 July 2020 21:40 (one week ago) link

The ants don't want you to have it.

Sonny Shamrock (Tom D.), Friday, 31 July 2020 22:42 (one week ago) link


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