Desert ants suddenly form a collective intelligence and begin to wage war on the desert inhabitants. It is up to two scientists and a stray girl they rescue from the ants to destroy them. But the ants have other ideas.
Michael Murphy ... James R. Lesko
Nigel Davenport ... Dr. Ernest D. Hubbs
Lynne Frederick ... Kendra Eldridge
Alan Gifford ... Mr. Eldridge
Robert Henderson ... Clete
Helen Horton ... Mildred Eldridge
Despite the dated quality of some elements, particularly the costumes this picture is, in my book, the best killer bug movie of all time. Through the use of an almost nature documentary style of photographing the ants, we really get a new perspective on the film's six-legged antagonists. There's something totally raw about the way these ants act and are shot alongside the inexorable, almost plodding pace of the piece that makes Phase IV seem amazingly, terrifyingly real.
The performances by the human actors are very much in the wooden, gee-whiz style of older sci-fi but here it works. The ants are a silent, almost invisible, killer. Their creeping terror, when cut against the classic characterization of the chisel-chinned hero and the bearded professor, illustrates that the best that humanity has to offer against the threat might not be enough.
This is one of the strangest, suspenseful movies I've ever seen. It must have been at lest 15 years since I last saw it, and I'm still looking around for it to appear on DVD, so that must mean something! What this movie lacks in action, it makes up for in suspense, and suspense you get! I'm baffled by the fact that this movie appears to be so little-known. The beauty of these kinds of movies, is that they are not so much plot-driven as well 'atmosphere-driven' (by lack of a better word), so you can watch several times without getting bored. The Thing is another movie with the same quality. Basically: highly recommended!
This is one of the greatest movies ever made. Saul Bass has created, out of the blue, one of the most terrifying fictions ever conceived. Bass' genius is usually confined to the miniature. What better way to explore this than extensive ant photography. I could not believe the character injected into what, in the hands of some hack director, might be just nature shots.
The film begins media res and there is a sense that the world is off kilter somehow. The voice over that caps the movie is some of the most literate, enigmatic film monologue i have experienced. See this as a parent of PI and you'll be on the right track.
the sun bleached photography and the atmosphere of menace conspire to such a degree that the movie has the feeling of a Beach Boys nightmare.
I will not spoil the ending. It is enough to say that there may very well never be anything like it again. Bass directed a short called Quest, produced by Robert Redford (probably shot in Utah!), which has the same vibe. It is like the invasion of some other reality, into our own.
This is a great sci-fi classic from the 70s. Often overlooked, it has to be considered the best ant movie since Them! Super intelligent ants are a theme not explored enough in today's cinema- at least we have films like Phase IV to look back upon since these themes seem to be too difficult for the modern cinema. Beg, borrow, or steal a copy- then go play some SimAnt and use what you learn.