Bad Movie Logo
"A website to the detriment of good film"

Custom Search
HOMEB-MOVIE REVIEWSREADER REVIEWSFORUMINTERVIEWSUPDATESABOUT


PHASE IV - 2 Slimes
Rated PG
Copyright 1974 Paramount Pictures
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 1 November 2008

The Characters:  

  • James - He thinks that mathematics is the universal language. Kinda explains why he does not have a girlfriend, doesn't it?
  • Kendra - She has long, straight, dark hair and rides horses. Ah, those '70s girls...
  • Dr. Hubbs - Getting bitten by a super ant causes him to start turning into the Elephant Man. The ants eat him alive and what is left probably looks like the Elephant Man's skeleton. Before the doctor's remains were laid to rest, Michael Jackson spoke to the funeral home to express his interest in "acquiring" the skeleton.
  • Kendra's Grandparents - They might have had to walk uphill to school (both ways) during the Depression, but these two should have known better than to take a stroll through a poison blizzard.
  • The Ants - They are incredibly adaptable, able to bore through flesh and bone in seconds, and highly intelligent. Smarty ants!

Buy It!

The Plot: 

When an unprecedented cosmic event occurs, the world panics. Housewives worry that their skin is going to fall off, survivalists fill their waterbeds with sunscreen and sleep under them, and Catholics flood the confessionals. Nothing appears to happen due to the mystery in outer space, but something did happen. It was just too small to notice.

In this case, "unprecedented" means the shallow depths of the pool of human knowledge.

The cosmic conjunction affected some ants. No longer mere insects, the tiny animals are now super ants! They stop their miniscule bickering and create the ant equivalent of the United Nations. Flawless cooperation becomes something practiced by all ants, not just within individual colonies. Unfortunately, watching a bunch of anything cooperating gets boring (unless they are holding hands and singing), so the scenes of the ant utopia become a little tedious.

Yes, I spent five minutes watching ants simply being themselves. It was interesting for part of that time. I remember when observing ant activities could keep me spellbound for hours. What, you cannot imagine watching ants all afternoon? Weren't you ever a kid?

Something else the ants gain from their exposure to whatever it was that happened in outer space is the ability to chew through anything really fast. Dr. Hubbs and James are assigned to investigate reports of an ant army assembling in remote areas. They discover an abandoned housing development. The residents were driven out by the ants, and the structures arbitrarily disassembled. However, the most amazing thing that the researchers encounter is the anthill skyscrapers. More than anything else, those looming structures drive home the point that humanity is suddenly faced with the prospect of sharing the Earth with a bunch of very smart ants.

What if...what if regular everyday ants are smart because they do not build skyscrapers? What if Donald Trump is the idiot?

To study the ants, the men need to understand the ants. They erect a futuristic domed facility near the insect metropolis. Unfortunately, the ants ain't talkin'. Everything the men do is unproductive at eliciting a response. Well, Dr. Hubbs has an answer for that: he shoots at the earthen spires. What in the heck is this man thinking? He discovers a race of super ants that can bore through sheep and build skyscrapers, and his plan for establishing a dialog with them is to shoot at their abodes? Talk about inviting total destruction. Leave the ants alone!

As a race, we humans are so dense. Whenever we encounter something new, our response is either to test if it is edible, or to poke it with a stick to see if it is going to bite us.

Annihilating their towers attracts the ants' attention (along with getting them angry), but the researchers are safe inside of their dome. The ants express their indignation upon Kendra's homestead. Wisely choosing flight over flight, the frantic hairless apes flee from the ants in their rusty relic of America's automotive industry. The farmers try to seek refuge at the silver dome. Unfortunately, they arrive as the ants attempt to attack the scientific redoubt. The farmers are killed by a spray of poison that Dr. Hubbs triggers to repel the ants' advance. Kendra survives by seeking shelter in an abandoned storm cellar. The poison wipes out countless insects.

The domed research facility is a cool design, but it still looks like a plain old square metal warehouse on the inside.

One of the movie's most effective scenes "humanizing" (I'm trying not to make that sound like an insult) the ants takes place as a worker struggles to return to the colony with a sample of the humans' yellow poison. The ant agonizingly drags the deadly chunk toward the nest, but eventually succumbs to the lethal chemical. Another ant takes up the relay, and pulls the sample a few inches closer to the objective before expiring. The cycle repeats until, at last, the toxic specimen reaches the Queen. She immediately eats it in toto!

Whoa, that is different than how matriarchs usually operate. Ask the Brits; they'll tell you. If the servant dies after sampling the key lime dessert, then the Queen will not be tasting her tart tonight.

Having ingested the yellow poison, the queen begins laying eggs of the same color. Holy cow, that poison is just like St. Patrick's day beer! These new yellow ants are immune to the poison. That night while the humans sleep, the ants are hard at work in the "no ants land" around the dome. Come morning, James discovers that the ants have erected a ring of solar reflectors around the dome. If the ants cannot mount a frontal assault, they will disable the threat by focusing sunlight on it until the temperature becomes unbearable.

All you a-holes with magnifying glasses: stop giving the ants ideas.

The ants do not make the mistake of relying solely on solar power. Ant sappers infiltrate the dome to conduct sabotage operations aimed at incapacitating the air conditioning. This is, of course, successful. You cannot keep ants out of anything. Especially not after Kendra (who joined the researchers in the dome) smashes an ant farm filled with super ants. She was a little angry with the insects. Assassinating their grandfather and grandmother is arguably the best way to get on anyone's bad side.

Under siege in their sweltering dome, the anxiety-infused trio starts coming unglued (socially as a group and mentally as individuals). Poor Kendra thinks the ants will leave the men alone if she becomes a sacrificial peace offering. James believes that the only way to survive is to establish communication by faxing geometric shapes back and forth with the ants. Dr. Hubbs just wants to put his shoes back on. Near its end, the film develops a bare foot fetish. Kendra sneaks out to offer herself to the ants, and she does it barefoot. She is taken hostage by the insect activists. Dr. Hubbs never does manage to get his shoes on; he stumbles outside sans foot accoutrements and falls into a pit. The ants have had a bone to pick with the good doctor ever since his "yellow snow" joke; they pick his skeleton clean. Ouch!

Alone at last, James decides to go on an all-out offensive. He dons a protective suit and mask, but strips all of it off, including his boots and socks, before reaching the heart of the ants' empire. Ambling miles across ant-infested terrain without anything on your feet is insane.

What is up with all the bare feet?

James' astounding discovery in the anthill is a bit anticlimactic, and I have no idea what the ending means. It is supposed to be an explanation. All I ended up with was more questions. Well, questions and a burning urge to make the "dead ant, dead ant, dead ant, dead ant, dead ant" jokes that I had been fighting to suppress for more than an hour. Did you notice that I resisted that impulse? Not one "dead ant" joke in the whole review. No, not a one.


Banner

The world is filled with creepy crawlers, and movies about them are high in "shudder factor." Click on the banner to discover even more things that might scurry and slither under your feet in the dark.


Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Bathroom privacy is an indisputable sign of advanced intelligence.
  • Ants are the ones who have been making all of those crop circles.
  • In the old days scientists had to be geniuses just to remember what switches they needed to turn on.
  • The first computer game was "Jump Rope" - not "Pong."
  • Don't eat green snow.
  • Never, ever borrow an entomologist's turkey baster.
  • The correct spelling was "Antlantis."
  • Yellow insects are immune to yellow poison.
  • Opera is the worst thing that ever happened to solar power.
  • Never hire a praying mantis HVAC technician.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 1 min - I see a teddy bear face. What do you see?
  • 9 mins - Something has to happen now, surely.
  • 17 mins - In a few seconds the ants will open fire with their 9mm flak cannons.
  • 20 mins - For some reason I am craving a PEZ.
  • 23 mins - The ants are advancing with alarming alacrity.
  • 25 mins - RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A HORSE!
  • 33 mins - Ants asphyxiating in acetone!
  • 53 mins - Great almighty, it's ant Armageddon!
  • 58 mins - Notice that all the ants are attired in black, because they are in mourning.
  • 61 mins - That is the "Hot Indicator" light. It blinks when it gets hot inside the research dome. Useful.
  • 63 mins - RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST THE LAYETTE BINS!
  • 72 mins - Along with about four million super ants. What is your point?

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

FileDialog
Green Music Note phaseiv1.wav James: "While I was playing around with number theory at the University, Hubbs was already onto something. Ordinary ants of different species were doing things that ants don't do: meeting, communicating - apparently making decisions."
Green Music Note phaseiv2.wav Dr. Hubbs: "This is not a controlled experiment. In our judgment, another occurrence in this area is highly probable, but we cannot command the ants to appear."
Radio Contact: "Well, is there something you can do to hurry them up?"
Dr. Hubbs: "We have been thinking about that..."
Green Music Note phaseiv3.wav James: "Listen Hubbs, I came down here for a couple of weeks of science in the sun. I did not sign up for a war against a bunch of God-damned ants! And furthermore, why'd you leave the truck out there in the first place?"
Dr. Hubbs: "Bait."
Green Music Note phaseiv4.wav James programming the computer to talk mathematics to the ants.

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 

ImageImageImage
ImageImageImage
ImageImage


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipphaseiv1.mpg - 5.6m
Dr. Hubbs is overjoyed that the ants are going to use solar energy to destroy the humans' scientific fortress. Sounds like a smashing good time! James is not so sure that having a horde of super ants mad at them is a good thing.

 Leave a commentEXTRASBuy the movie 

Share It!Buy the movieIMDB Logo
Stumble This ReviewStumble This Review
Digg This ReviewDigg This Review
Buy it from Amazon.com (United States)

Buy it from Movies Unlimited (United States)

Buy it from Amazon.ca (Canada)

Buy it from Amazon.co.uk (United Kingdom)

Internet Movie Database


ALSO SEE:



Comments:Write CommentPages: [1] 2
Re: Phase IV
Reply #1. Posted on November 01, 2008, 08:25:49 AM by Trevor
TeddyR

Thanks for the great review, Andrew, I was seven when I saw this for the first time and I remember Stephen King's review of it in Danse Macabre: ["Saul] Bass' ants aren't even really big, they're just little buggers who've pulled together.":

"All you a-holes with magnifying glasses: stop giving the ants ideas."   TeddyR  BounceGiggle
Re: Phase IV
Reply #2. Posted on November 01, 2008, 10:42:03 AM by DavidFullam
Never liked this movie. Every review of it in magazines and reference books keep harping on how it is some kind of neglected classic. I'm like "whatever." I'd rather watch Them and Empire of the Ants.
Re: Phase IV
Reply #3. Posted on November 01, 2008, 12:08:00 PM by Chris McAvey
Wasn't this movie riffed in one of the KTMA episodes of MST3K?
Re: Phase IV
Reply #4. Posted on November 01, 2008, 03:47:58 PM by mrgb46
 :twirl:Yes,it is..Too bad they couldn't go back,like they did with the Gamera movies and redo this one.Would've been interesting to see what Mike and the bots could've done with it.
Re: Phase IV
Reply #5. Posted on November 02, 2008, 01:16:18 PM by Sardu
I have found a mistake in your review.  At the end of paragraph three you wrote "(unless they are holding hands and singing)" when clearly what you meant to say was "(Especially when they are holding hands and singing)".

Please edit this.


Thank you.








 TongueOut
Re: Phase IV
Reply #6. Posted on November 02, 2008, 01:24:54 PM by Trurl
What if...what if regular everyday ants are smart because they do not build skyscrapers? What if Donald Trump is the idiot?

I like that- it echoes that line from Douglas Adams's the Hitchhiker's Guide, the one that goes (roughly paraphrased):

Man always considered himself smarter than dolphins because of all the great things he had accomplished; the wheel, New York City, that sort of thing, while all the dolphins did was muck about in the water having a good time.  Conversely, dolphins considered themselves superior for exactly the same reasons.
Re: Phase IV
Reply #7. Posted on November 02, 2008, 02:25:43 PM by Jay the Magnificent
thought this movie was a bit too cerebral for the common movie watcher.
but notion of instant evolutionary uplift by way of cosmic rays is wacky taffy

very 70s  Twirling
Re: Phase IV
Reply #8. Posted on November 03, 2008, 07:58:27 PM by Andrew
What if...what if regular everyday ants are smart because they do not build skyscrapers? What if Donald Trump is the idiot?

I like that- it echoes that line from Douglas Adams's the Hitchhiker's Guide, the one that goes (roughly paraphrased):

Douglas Adams was an incredible writer.  The characters were perhaps average, but he had a way of working little truths into his writing that make me laugh out loud.  Thank you much for that; it made my day.

Never liked this movie. Every review of it in magazines and reference books keep harping on how it is some kind of neglected classic. I'm like "whatever." I'd rather watch Them and Empire of the Ants.

thought this movie was a bit too cerebral for the common movie watcher.
but notion of instant evolutionary uplift by way of cosmic rays is wacky taffy

very 70s  Twirling

Unfortunately, the humans are shallow personalities.  The ants end up with more depth as characters.  The long sequence with the ants dragging the poison to the queen, and each dying in turn, had a lot of empathy.  For me, the scenes with the scientists interacting are mostly filler, and the young girl is entirely filler.  The scene where the scientists viewed the ant skyscrapers is awesome.  They needed more scenes like that and like the self-sacrificing poison retrieval.  That or extremely selfish scenes with the humans as counterpoint to the ants.
Pages: [1] 2
 Share on Facebook
RSS Feed Subscribe Subscribe by RSS
Email Subscribe Subscribe by Email


Recommended Articles
How To Find A Bad Movie

The Champions of Justice

Plan 9 from Outer Space

Manos, The Hands of Fate

Podcast: Todd the Convenience Store Clerk

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

The Human Tornado

Maniac

The Educational Archives: Driver's Ed

Godzilla vs. Monster Zero

Do you have a zombie plan?

FROM THE BADMOVIES.ORG ARCHIVES
ImageThe Giant Claw - Slime drop

Earth is visited by a GIANT ANTIMATTER SPACE BUZZARD! Gawk at the amazingly bad bird puppet, or chuckle over the silly dialog. This is one of the greatest b-movies ever made.

Lesson Learned:
  • Osmosis: os·mo·sis (oz-mo'sis, os-) n., 1. When a bird eats something.

Subscribe to Badmovies.org and get updates by email:

HOME B-Movie Reviews Reader Reviews Forum Interviews TV Shows Advertising Information Sideshows Links Contact
Badmovies.org is owned and operated by Andrew Borntreger. All original content is © 1998 - 2014 by its respective author(s). Image, video, and audio files are used in accordance with Fair Use, and are property of the film copyright holders. You may freely link to any page (.html or .php) on this website, but reproduction in any other form must be authorized by the copyright holder.