Phase IV (1974) - Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Hohum Score



Desert ants suddenly form a collective intelligence and begin to wage war on the inhabitants. It is up to two scientists and a stray girl they rescue from the ants to destroy them.

IMDB: 6.5
Director: Saul Bass
Stars: Nigel Davenport, Michael Murphy
Length: 84 Minutes
PG Rating: PG
Reviews: 12 out of 87 found boring (13.79%)

One-line Reviews (67)

It's a very entertaining film, it's a very beautiful film, and it is among one of the coolest and most satisfying films I have ever seen!

With its unusual but compelling narrative structure, it almost feels like you're watching a documentary on the National Geographic channel, only it's a truly horrific and disturbing one.

Well acted, visually stunning and paced perfectly Phase IV is a great sci-fi piece that didn't deserve to go under the radar the way it did.

Somehow I still have it in my mind.. so it must be worth watching it again sometime.

Brilliant insect photography is the highlight of this strange, intriguing insect invasion film .

It moves a bit slower than most modern viewers are used to but it is pretty compelling stuff.

Harrowing, hallucinatory and altogether fascinating .

I found the whole thing dull, poorly acted with Nigel Davenport and Michael Murphy desperately trying to rescue this mess of a film.

This is one of the strangest, suspenseful movies I've ever seen.

Directed by Famous and Award Winning Graphic Title Designer Saul Bass, combining stunning scenery and SFX with an Ominous Musical Score, the Movie is an Unnerving Unraveling of an event puzzling Scientists and could be a Foreboding of Things to Come.

The way the movie is made presents some stunning visuals and a captivating atmosphere.

Offbeat and intriguing 70's sci-fi oddity .

To me, this movie was just plain confusing, slow, and uninteresting.

The acting is dull and nearly terrible, which may be your biggest problem with the film.

It moved too slow sometimes, and I never did understand what the "Phase IV" was about at all.

" and "Jeez, what a bore hun!

Still Entertaining.

Most of the shots of ants recall "The Hellstrom Chronicle" from several years earlier and have the same compelling impact.

While it's true that "Phase IV" is rather slow moving in spots, and that the human characters are ciphers with no real depth to speak of, "Phase IV" is a nice sally at an experimental science fiction film that emphasizes mood and dread over action and character development.

Saul Bass's "Phase IV" lies within the interstices of science fiction and horror, and adds an unexpected element: that of sheer awe and mystery.

Those seeking cheap thrills and obvious jump out at you formulaic shocks will be deeply disappointed.


We get an ecological message in addition to mind boggling ant photography.

What I remember is that it was a very slow film.

Overall, it's refined, intellectual, vaguely allegorical and generally compelling viewing – with more substance to the storyline and attention to the all-too-brief climax, "Phase IV" could of (should of) been a minor classic in its own right.

Many would also find this film boring because of the lack of "action" sequences until the end, pretty much summed up when the nutter scientist is consumed in a pit of ants.

Much of the middle part of the film is quite exciting, and most of this is provided by the exquisite insect photography (cinematography is by Dick Bush, don't know who else to credit for special close-up microscopic photography) and the eerie music (Brian Gascoigne) which goes from typical 70s electronic stuff to British neoromanticism and areas in between - you really feel that these ants are intelligent and purposeful, and in fact they're more worth rooting for than the humans, which brings up the major problem.

I saw this Mystery Science Theater episode recently and was bored beyond human capability due to this incredibly "complex" and scientific film called PHASE IV.

The plot is reasonably original, but it's overall a pretty boring and slow paced film that doesn't really do all that much for me personally.

This is one of those slowly developing movies that really capture you, provided you are willing to follow at that slow pace.


It's this reality that makes it exciting, not all the overload of effects and action people expect today.

Good ideas, but dull execution .

But the humans are a bit of a bore and the last half-hour winds down way too slowly.

The director has to take the blame for this as it's so slow and tedious most of the time.

This is all well and good, as the film is rather original and it stands apart from other films of a similar nature; but all in all, the 1954 film was far more entertaining and not nearly as flat.

This is a suspenseful, claustrophobic well made film with an outstanding musical score, and amazing, amazing photography of ants.

The look of the movie does have some compelling power.

I thought it was very well done and pretty darn suspenseful throughout the movie, ie. kept me on the edge of my chair quit a few times.

There's nothing gratuitous or particularly exciting about it, however its slow burn, searing psychological style plays out like a battle of wits between the humans and the ants in showing their overall dominance.

At the session I actually saw this film at back in '73, half the audience were fidgeting and totally numbed out by it all.

A crisp sci fi setting at par with The The Andromeda Strain mixed with stunning visuals and camera work .

"Confusing, slow and uninteresting" was one I particularly liked - the film is NONE of those!

It's definitely a very entertaining film and it has it's fair share of fun cheese ball moments.

It's well Acted, save the Girl, and the Tension at times is unbearable.

The scientists counter-attack, to which the ants develop counter-counter measures, etc.All in all, not a bad sci-fi movie, I enjoyed it.

We are occasionally treated to what was once considered to be highly stunning model animations of ants in the underground.

While some may think it is boring, with a long credits sequence and endless lab scenes, a true film fan will appreciate it for it's uniqueness and fascinating style.

a cleverly staged sequence shows the ants gradually become resistant to the first spray of yellow poison by absorbing it ...

Mind blowing .

No pun intended, but I am sure there will be some who say this film moves too slow.

The narrator drones on about nothing at the beginning and states that "mystics predicted earthquakes and the end of life as we know it" to which Joel quips "...

Dull, and Duller.


THX moves pretty slow for a lot of people, but this film is quite a bit more boring.

There are some great shots of the country and the dirt road that are among some of the most breathtaking I have seen.

One intense set piece as Kendra's family attempts to flee is riveting stuff.

There's a rather slow start to this film with a lengthy and unsettling montage of different ant species working together, a little later there is a narration which explains the establishment of a science research facility to study the unusual activity and the decline in the natural predators of the ant population.

On the two occasions that I saw this film on television I found it gripping.

What makes this film such a classic is the stunning camera work, especially of the ants and other creatures, the use of very vivid colour and a very effective soundtrack.

An underrated, little-seen Thriller with its Elegant Cinematography and Great Insect Footage remains a Thought-Provoking and wholly engaging Film.

It also left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth because it presents you with a far-fetched unexplained plot point to serve its intriguing message.

Dick Bush's stunning cinematography boasts a wealth of remarkable visuals, with the breathtaking micro-photography in particular of the ants and their perfectly structured society rating as truly something to behold.

The ending is completely ambiguous, but it also feels rather lazy, as the film ends before we get any explanation as to why the ants suddenly got clever, and so the whole film turns out to be rather pointless.

This is the only film to be directed by the graphic designer Saul Bass and there are one or two moments where the film seems a little disjointed – I suspect the film has been cut or re-edited in some way against the original intention.

Other than that it's all fairly confusing stuff with the whole ant community work exceedingly interesting yet the actual idea very boringly filmed.

It's short on action and long on dialogue and atmosphere; it's definitely an animal attack film for the thinking person, but is fascinating in a surreal, mind bending way.