Phase IV (1974)

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Phase IV (1974)

Post  BoG on Sat Mar 27, 2010 3:32 pm




Definitely an intriguing, sometimes hypnotic sci-fi suspenser: Phase IV
- not to be confused with a 2003 film.
In a sparsely populated region of Arizona, ants are suddenly a lot smarter and rapidly dispose of all their usual predators; the next step? - humanity!

The reason given for this sudden increase to the intelligence of the ants is some effect in space. Also, because the story revolves around several humans battling these ants in an isolated location, all we know is that this affected ants in Arizona - what about the rest of the world? Who knows. But this isn't just another killer bug movie or like all those eco-terror films of that decade. The influence of such high class sci-fi  as 2001:A Space Odyssey and The Andromeda Strain is clearly evident. Before this, director Saul Bass was probably best known for the credits sequence of Spartacus, Seconds and a few others. Click here to find out  about Titles by Saul Bass:

Micro-photography is employed for the scenes of the ants - no fake giant ants - it's all real (this also recalls The Hellstrom Chronicle of a couple of years earlier). There are also some startling scenes, such as one involving a mantis and a couple of ants. There's also speeded up scenes: in some shots, scores of ants are shown traveling super-quickly, so I get the impression that not only their brainpower was increased. The ants get rid of all their usual predators quickly (this now recalls The Naked Jungle). It's all quite ominous and eerie - a mood that prevails over most of the story.

As for the human characters, there is a study in contrasts - Davenport's scientist character is cold, like a calculating machine, all logic & analysis. He sees the ants as an experiment to be succeeded at. The rest of the human characters tend to behave over-emotionally & irrationally. Davenport seems the only chance to challenge these super-smart ants, but he seems to seriously underestimate his 'hive-mind' adversary. Many viewers complain that this film is boring; I found it fascinating for the first hour. But, the last half-hour does wind down too slowly, in my opinion. BoG's Score: 7 out of 10



Last edited by BoG on Fri Dec 26, 2014 7:46 pm; edited 3 times in total
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Phase IV imagery

Post  BoG on Sat Mar 27, 2010 4:36 pm

The film... it's really a 'thinking man' science fiction film, standing to the side of most of the films of that period. It almost looks like and has the feel of having been made by scientists, though that's not really the case, of course. The best way to see it is to make sure there are no interruptions for 90 minutes, be in a relaxed, contemplative state and just sort of let yourself 'get into it.' It'll probably cast some kind of spell over you (provided the picture quality is decent). Click one of the next images to read about the use of patterns & textures in the images of the film by Bass:
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Phase IV DVD

Post  BoG on Sat Mar 27, 2010 4:44 pm

Phase IV has been released on DVD by Paramount / Legend Films, back in October of 2008.
This (finally) has a decent picture, in 1.78:1 aspect ratio - fits very well on one those widescreen TVs. Saul Bass would appreciate this, I think. There are no extras, though; it's one of those 'bare bones' DVDs.
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colorful ants

Post  BoG on Sat Aug 06, 2011 12:35 am

A photographer took these photos after placing colored sugar drops for ants in his garden in India:

http://animaltracks.today.com/_news/2011/08/05/7262891-ants-give-new-meaning-to-you-are-what-you-eat
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Zombie Ants

Post  BoG on Fri May 04, 2012 1:01 am

http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/05/03/11398655-zombie-ants-fight-fungus-with-fungus?lite&ocid=todmsnbc11

Zombie ants fight fungus with fungus


By Devin Coldewey

The Cordyceps fungus has become a staple of "stranger than fiction" nature stories: Its complex and lethal parasitism of ants, causing the insects to climb as high as they can before the fungus bursts like a horn from their heads, is both bizarre and captivating. Now scientists report that the parasite is getting a dose of its own medicine, as it finds itself under attack from yet another parasitic fungus — one that targets Cordyceps. It's nature's way to pile weirdness upon weirdness.

Researchers led by David Hughes at Penn State University were looking into how some groups of ants were able to survive a Cordyceps attack. The fungus is extremely virulent and can often wipe out an entire colony. Ants groom each other to remove potentially troublesome fungus and microbes, but that couldn't account for the survival rates they were occasionally seeing.

What they found (and reported in PLoS ONE) was another fungus growing in and around the ant colonies — just as much a specialist as the first fungus. This newly discovered fungus attacked the "zombie-ant" fungi and effectively neutered them, sabotaging their spore-producing organs and preventing them from fruiting. Some ants would still be infected (the researchers described a "high density of zombie-ant cadavers in the graveyard"), but the spread of zombie-ism was largely stopped.

Each species of Cordyceps fungus targets only one species; the ant-zombifying variety is just the best-known type. That there could be a fungus that was parasitic in such a fascinating way on a single species is amazing enough, but that a second fungus would specialize in attacking the first is almost beyond belief. It's an example of the density and biodiversity that one finds in, as Hughes puts it, "the exciting theater played out on the rainforest floor."
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