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Phase IV/Review

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

< Phase IV
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A cosmic event has come and gone. Many scientific specialists weren't sure of the consequences it would have on earth and judging by the relatively calm effects afterwards, it appears as if nothing significant has happened. But biologist Dr. Hubbs (Nigel Davenport) has noticed something. He's noticed that the ant kingdoms have suddenly communicated and collaborated with each other and have caused quite a dangerous phenomena in a tiny populated area near the midwest. Hubbs enlists an animal communicator, James Lesko (Michael Murphy) to help build a protective compound in the area and cease the destruction the ants have caused. And just recently, the ants have struck the nearest target, the Eldridge household. Only the granddaughter, Kendra (Lynne Frederick) has survived the attack and is rescued by the scientific duo. But what started out as a simple extermination problem soon evolves into something beyond the minds of mankind.

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It's a very simple and basic plot, but director Saul Bass (Who's made cinema history thanks to his unforgettable design for title sequences) doesn't go for the schlocky antics that other "When-Nature-Strikes-Back" films from the era seemed to follow. Instead, Phase IV has lasted as one of the more striking and intelluctual films of it's genre. It's also a credit to Bass and editor Willy Kemplen who prevent the film from becoming dull since we spend a majority of the film inside the compound/lab. But the suspense and the eventual bleakness of the film is always prevalent throughout. The performances are also quite good with Davenport, at times, doing his best Captain Ahab impression and Lesko being the voice of reason. Only Frederick is left with with very little to do. But even though she plays a big role in the story's conclusion, you get the feeling that her character suffered a lot in the editing room. This wouldn't be a surprise because Bass, in fact, has been vocal that that studio interference was responsible to cutting the film down to his desired vision (You might catch glimpses of the excised "Psychadelic" footage that survives in the trailer) but nonetheless, the surviving film still attains a nice pace and it's thoughtfulness endures very well.

Reviewed by Laydback

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