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ARTIST JULES BASS DIRECTS LYNNE FREDERICK IN 'PHASE IV'

Lynne Frederick is the ingenue in the Jules Bass ant horror/science fiction PHASE IV Year: 1974 Rating: ****
PHASE IV stands out above all other ant-driven horror films in that cult director Jules Bass, famous for his opening credit sequences and partnership with Arthur Rankin... which included the animated HOBBIT and so many of those classic stop-motion Christmas specials... takes us extremely close and tightly cerebral to the subjects at hand, providing a sort of Einstein at the Drive-In...

And PHASE has Bass all alone, with animation replaced by what seems, aesthetically, a post-apocalyptic, rural location where ants are taking (or have already taken) over. Here's where Nigel Davenport's scientist Dr. Ernest D. Hubbs is teamed with a younger, less informed but just as essential Michael Murphy as James R. Lesko: holed-up in a domed structure receiving various codes on that-era's giant computers...
Lynne Frederick is the ingenue in the Jules Bass ant horror/science fiction
Upon saving one survivor from a family that refused to escape when warned, we meet Lynne Frederick as Kendra Eldridge, who, once taken into the compound, puts the research in jeopardy while adding a mysterious edge: as if she were an intentional visitor all along, which sounds a bit STAR TREK and, in fact, there is a touch of that particular enigmatic vibe going on here...

Narrated by Murphy's character in a lifeless monotone (along with random log entries by Davenport), the premise is complicated yet easy to follow, somehow, and impossible to explain but it all comes down to the capability of ants ruling Earth the way they do their own meticulous kingdom, a concept that's been used before only never so creative and beautifully filmed, providing not only the scorched desert landscapes and close-up shots of the particularly resilient insects, but various glimpses of the universe beyond our own.
Nigel Davenport lends credibility to the ant science in PHASE IV
At the lead, Davenport plays a sort of "mad scientist" who ironically remains cool and ambiguous while Murphy keeps a discreet eye on Lynne Frederick (who wouldn't?): As the stock vulnerable ingenue, the soon to be trophy wife of Peter Sellers has more humanity than exposition with a gentle chemistry with Murphy... While Davenport's eventual desperation invokes needed urgency and suspense...

And although PHASE IV slightly lacks the genre's signature devices of urgency, terror and action, there's a feeling of staring into a microscope and witnessing a transition that only a visually-driven filmmaker like Jules Bass can make seem completely realistic and palpable: like fully experiencing a methodical, nightmarish process instead of merely witnessing it. As if we, the viewer, are subjects.
Lynne Frederick surrounded by Michael Murphy & Nigel Davenport in PHASE IV
You do plan on having ANTS in your ANT MOVIE (Phase IV with Lynne Frederick) review
Lynne Frederick and Nigel Davenport in PHASE IV
Lynne Frederick in the Jules Bass killer ant cult classic PHASE IV
Lynne Frederick in the Jules Bass killer ant cult classic PHASE IV
Nigel Davenport in PHASE IV with Michael Murphy
Lynne Frederick and Nigel Davenport in PHASE IV with Michael Murphy
Lynne Frederick in the Jules Bass killer ant cult classic PHASE IV
Lynne Frederick and Michael Murphy in PHASE IV
Lynne Frederick in the Jules Bass killer ant cult classic PHASE IV
Lynne Frederick in the Jules Bass killer ant cult classic PHASE IV
Jules Bass's PHASE IV opening credits
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Lynne Frederick in the Jules Bass killer ant cult classic PHASE IV
Lynne Frederick, Michael Murphy and Nigel Davenport in PHASE IV
Lynne Frederick in the Jules Bass killer ant cult classic PHASE IV
Lynne Frederick in the Jules Bass killer ant cult classic PHASE IV
Lynne Frederick in the Jules Bass horror ant classic PHASE IV
Lynne Frederick in the Jules Bass horror ant classic PHASE IV
Lynne Frederick in the Jules Bass horror ant classic PHASE IV
Lynne Frederick in the Jules Bass horror ant classic PHASE IV
Lynne Frederick in the Jules Bass horror ant classic PHASE IV
Lynne Frederick in the Jules Bass horror ant classic PHASE IV with Michael Murphy

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