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315 Ratings

Phase IV

Directed by Saul Bass
United States, 1974
Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller


Due to some unknown cosmic event, listed in “phases”, ants have undergone rapid evolution and developed a hive mind.

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Phase IV Directed by Saul Bass
Fields of color whip across the frame, deep yellows and greens and browns. The ground falls away into chthonic horrors of design and danger. Human bodies are made into hollow, ant-infested abominations.
May 12, 2017
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One of those mesmerising failures only the ‘70s could throw up. While it’s hard to ascertain what exactly it is that finally scuppers this fantastically bizarre science fiction/horror oddity – you can take your pick from the overblown acting, the plot holes or the perpetually declamatory script – the conspicuous lack of scares is certainly a viable candidate. The problem here is, perhaps unsurprisingly, one of anthropomorphism or rather its limits.
December 16, 2015
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It’s a movie that seems to have been designed more than directed, and edited around principles of color and line, rather than around performance or plot. Its perspective is impartial—which is what makes it so discomfiting. The soundtrack—which includes contributions from cult Japanese percussionist Stomu Yamashta and members of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop—only heightens the sense of alienating unease.
October 31, 2014
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What are people saying?

  • Harry Rossi's rating of the film Phase IV

    Essentially a film about three morons who get taken hostage by ants. Boring, stupid, some (unintentionally) funny dialogue and not much else. However the footage of the ants was cool enough and well shot, the whole film really didn't do much for me.

  • Nicholas Gregory's rating of the film Phase IV

    Indulgent opening (like the original ending,) and the cut ending is abrupt. Yet, Phase IV doesn't go for the thrills of most killer insect films, but instead, a moody and atmospheric, subtle slow-crawl approach. These parts can be condensed, the characters are archetypes, but it doesn't spoon feed information, which is equally admirable and pretentious (odd for a nature amok film, but that's why it's worth watching.)

  • mjgildea's rating of the film Phase IV

    2 1/2 out of 5 stars. The allure of the Saul Bass direction credit quickly wore off after about 15 minutes of ants close ups. The effects were badly dated and the characters were blank. Despite the siege plot I've seen dozens of times before and the somewhat nonsensical ending I didn't mind it by the end. I guess I was expecting more out of Bass.

  • This is Jake Kath's rating of the film Phase IV

    Cool concept and some amazing visuals but not really much to say after that. I really just wish it stopped after the first 10 minutes. Those 10 minutes owned my ass and are the main reason I'm giving it three stars! Still, well worth at least one viewing

  • dave gunn's rating of the film Phase IV

    An entomological sci-fi masterpiece, turning one ubiquitous creature into a threat on par with aliens. This is incredibly unique and, if you know much about ants, not far off from what they are capable of. The mixture of colors with the camerawork of a Discovery Channel piece makes this a one-of-a-kind experience. The original ending ( is worth seeing directly afterwards.

  • mpho3's rating of the film Phase IV

    Criminally underrated. Tripped me OUT as a kid and now too. Phase IV is "one of the most beautifully photographed films, of any genre, ever made. Despite some amateurish elements, it has a significant wow factor. Middleham’s cinematography is absolutely stunning and there are moments in the film that are truly visionary." - Marc Campbell,

  • Giles J Davis's rating of the film Phase IV

    A precursor to Alien? Heavyweight Saul Bass' creeping story is a masterpiece threatening the audience with Commie Ants, the Apollo Program & Silent Spring. Watch in terror & psychedelia the opening 15 minute sequence where ants upstage the human cast with theory and benevolence - sacrificing themselves for the greater good completely overwhelming the human story in this oddity. The camera work & close-ups are sublime

  • Duncan Jones's rating of the film Phase IV

    As might be expected from Mr. Bass, this film is at its best when dealing with miniature drama. The insect scenes are rather astonishing; surprisingly moving and lacking the documentary feel which, to me, seemed inevitable. The human scenes resemble something between The Thing and Solyaris, reflective and resigned yet desperate and mournful. Hardly, to my mind, a masterpiece, but check it out if it intrigues you.

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