New Ending for 1974’s Phase IV Uncovered!

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The Hollywood Reporter

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If you’re at all familiar with Saul Bass’ 1974 insect run amok flick Phase IV, you’ll be happy to hear that the long lost original ending of the film has been uncovered and, yes, even screened already. Read on for details.

THR reports that programmers at Los Angeles’ The Cinefamily unveiled the never-before-seen ending to Phase IV on Sunday night after a screening of the theatrical cut of Saul Bass’ 1974 feature film debut. Celebrating the work of the iconic artist and title sequence designer, the repertory house uncovered a reel of the footage, which was long thought lost – or to never have existed — and showed it as a part of its “Saul Bass on Film” series.

In the movie, desert ants suddenly form a collective intelligence and begin to wage war on the desert inhabitants. It is up to two scientists (Nigel Davenport, Michael Murphy) and a stray girl (Lynne Frederick) they rescue from the ants to destroy them. But the ants have other ideas. Check out the original ending below, and then read on for a spoiler report of what was contained in the new footage!

Starting with the same shots as in the theatrical version, Michael Murphy’s character James descends into the ants’ hive expecting to blow it up, ending the war with humankind’s insect adversaries. Instead, he enters a room where Kendra (Lynne Fredrick), the girl he and his partner rescued from insecticide poisoning earlier in the film, is lying in a pool of sand. She rises and approaches him, as he realizes that the ants want to join – or merge – with humanity, prompting a new evolutionary development in both species. James and Kendra find themselves running through a gantlet of geometric structures, eventually ending up in a maze where they are tested and observed in the same way that mankind tested the insects.

In a dizzying and often disturbing montage of imagery, James and Kendra become an embodiment of all mankind as a new species is created. Emerging from their transformation, the pair gazes out onto a sunset-stained landscape, realizing that humanity has reached a new level in its evolution: “Phase IV.”

New Ending for 1974's Phase IV Uncovered!

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  • Diavolo

    Great little film. Much more psychological and disturbing than the man vs. insect trope would lead you to believe, and this alternate ending showing rather than telling us what has happened seems much more satisfying. Shame that Saul Bass only directed one full feature.