PHASE IV (1974)

My feature debt as a Director confounded a few viewers–  when Markham was released in 2020, it wound up on a few torrent sites quite quickly- one person watching the film illegally gave it 5 stars out of 5 and left a message on the torrent board which read – ‘I’ve never seen another fucking film like it.’   Well, maybe that guy (or gal) might want to watch PHASE IV (1974)

Phase IV is a film directed by Saul Bass.  It’s a small contained sci-fi about ants taking over the world.  But this isn’t ‘Them’  (1954) – don’t expect to see stop motion creatures crunching on military hardware. Instead Phase IV is a visually stunning, cramped and claustrophobic film, that will make viewers uneasy and entertained in equal measure.

There’s not much of a plot to mention, and some of it won’t make much sense – but it will be compulsive viewing.

Saul Bass is a bit of a legend in the film world. He  was a graphic designer by trade, and somehow ended up designing the title sequences for many classic films – from Martin Scorsese’ Casino right back to The Seven Year Itch. Sometimes the title sequences of the films he worked on were better, more interesting and more creative than the films themselves.

So, Saul had a cult following and a reputation for being visually exacting and super creative, but Saul only ever directed one feature film, so PHASE IV is they only fully realised film we have from him, and it’s a trip – and hints at what a talent he could have been given further commissions.

But like my debut film Markham – some reviewers at the time had never seen a fucking film like it! And that kind of put a stop to Saul’s career as a director right there...

Over the 47 years since the film was made, its built up a big cult following. The trailer is below, and I’d recommend you see it, as soon as you can.

Matthew Cooper has been a scriptwriter for hire and UK script consultant for over 20 years. He’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award-winning episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer.

Matthew is also a director of feature films including the rubber reality horror thriller ‘Markham which was released in 2020. Matthew’s second feature film as director ‘At The Mountains Of Madness’ was released in July 2021.

You can find out more about Matthew’s work as a director here and find his broadcast credits on the IMDb here.

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