HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Unholy, The
How to Deter a Robber
Antebellum
Offering, The
Enola Holmes
Big Calamity, The
Man Under Table
Freedom Fields
Settlers
Boy Behind the Door, The
Swords of the Space Ark
I Still See You
Most Beautiful Boy in the World, The
Luz: The Flower of Evil
Human Voice, The
Guns Akimbo
Being a Human Person
Giants and Toys
Millionaires Express
Bringing Up Baby
World to Come, The
Air Conditioner
Fear and Loathing in Aspen
Kandisha
Riders of Justice
Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki, The
For Those Who Think Young
Justice League: War
Fuzzy Pink Nightgown, The
Plurality
Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness
Night of the Sharks
Werewolves Within
Honeymoon
King and Four Queens, The
Stray Dolls
Diana's Wedding
Deerskin
Toll, The
Two of Us
   
 
Newest Articles
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
   
 
  Phase IV Empire Of The Ants
Year: 1974
Director: Saul Bass
Stars: Nigel Davenport, Michael Murphy, Lynne Frederick, Alan Gifford, Robert Henderson, Helen Horton
Genre: Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Phase I. While there was the recent cosmic event in nearby outer space, everyone was looking to the skies, but they would have been better off looking to Planet Earth, for there was a major change about to occur. Some scientists noticed it, led by Dr Ernest Hubbs (Nigel Davenport), who realised that something was happening to the ant colonies of the Arizona desert: they were no longer rivals, and were now putting aside their diferences by teaming up for reasons unknown. Accompanied by his assistant, James Lesko (Michael Murphy), an expert in mathematics and animal communication, Hubbs hoped to work out what was going on.

And what was going on? To be honest, you never really find out, even at the end, although there are hints that this was a dressed up version of all those world domination science fiction movies of the fifties. So unlike Them! the ants were not giant sized, but they had similar ideas of pursuing a goal of taking over, and with that a heavy dose of metaphysical, altering your place in the universe pretentiousness. Some have judged Phase IV as having ideas above its station just as its creepy-crawlies do, but others find it highly intriguing.

Not least because the film looks so striking, mainly down to the ant photography courtesy of Ken Middleham, who had brought the no-less-apocalyptic The Hellstrom Chronicle to life with his brilliant camerwork, not only making the ants' intelligence something believable but helping to tell the story as well. You get to understand what the critters are saying to each other even though you never hear them speak (wisely, as that would have tipped the film too far over into the ridiculous), so when the little guy with the green abdomen, who is the brains of the outfit, converses with the queen, the communication is tangible.

Phase IV was the sole feature directed by Saul Bass, a highly talented designer who had created some classic posters and title sequences (for example, Psycho and Walk on the Wild Side were just two of his), and he brought a distinctive visual style to Mayo Simon's script, with the ant towers and a kind of crop circle illustrating the insects' preoccupation with geometric shapes. Mathematics is the universal language says Lesko, and he somehow manages to send messages of simple shapes to the colony, which return in kind. Quite how this happens is never entirely explained, however.

It's not that Bass let his story get away from him, but he was not helped by the studio recutting the film after he was satisfied with it, with particular damage being done to the climactic, 2001: A Space Odyssey-style ending that was meant to leave the audience with their minds suitably blown. It's still an arresting way to end a science fiction film, and certainly more provocative than William Castle's Bug which came out soon after and also featured intelligent insects. Before you reach that, there's a wealth of jargon to sit through as Murphy and Davenport endeavour to stop the ants from developing any further, not exactly assisted by Kendra (Lynne Frederick), a young refugee from their destruction, but once you accept that the humans are not the heroes in this, and it's the ants we're meant to be backing, you'll get on with Phase IV pretty well. Incidentally, the film never reaches the stage of the title and leaves you to speculate on what it might be. Music by Brian Gascoigne.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 4249 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (2)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
   

 

Last Updated: