KTMA 9. Phase IV (1974)

Saul Bass. Filmmaker and graphic designer, Bass is the whiz who envisioned title sequences and posters to some of the world’s greatest movies. The Man with the Golden Arm (1955), Around the World in 80 Days (1956), Vertigo (1958), Anatomy of a Murder (1959), North by Northwest (1959), Psycho (1960), Spartacus (1960), West Side Story (1961), It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), Seconds (1966), Big (1988), Goodfellas (1990), The Age of Innocence (1993), Casino (1995). Even some corporate logos were his design. Bell Telephone, AT&T, United Airlines, United Way, Warner Communications, Geffen Records, Hanna-Barbera, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Kleenex, Quaker Oats. In the 60s, Bass and his wife and partner Elaine went off into various pursuits leaving title work behind. Directing the short film The Searching Eye (1964), another short Why Man Creates (1968) which won an Oscar, and a full-length feature Phase IV (1974), Bass chased filmmaking for a time before returning home. The Ant Movie, Robotic Laws, Turning Off The Water, I Spy, Recite. “Makes me hungry for a Milky Way”, “I think we’re going in”, “It looks kinda skinny. Must be a Carpenter Ant.” “They’re trying to find a picnic” or “Antstock”?

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KTMA 9. Phase IV (1974).

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It’s Just A Show 71. [MST3K K09. Phase IV]

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Best of KTMA 9.

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Original Trippy Ending to Phase IV (1974).

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Trailer of Phase IV (1974).

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Review of Phase IV (1974).

Wipe Out.

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One of my favorites of Season Zero. The film is genuinely interesting and maintains a slow burn tension as scientists find themselves battling against mysteriously intelligent ants. But it also just handwaves stuff away with such technical scientific jargon as “blue chemistry” and “yellow chemistry” (describing which insecticide they’re using) delivered with absolute grave sincerity.

I appreciate you including the original ending, which truly is trippy and quite an experience, especially after watching the rest of the film.

This a movie I could enjoy unriffed, but, as always, the riffing makes it so much more enjoyable. Which is kind of what Joel said he was aiming for - not trashing the movies, but working with them to create something new and fun.

Plus we get (as seen in the “best of” reel above) the beginning of Crow calling every on-screen creature “Kitty!” regardless of species.

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I have not seen this one yet, thanks for the link @BruceLeePullen. I will definitely have to watch it over the holidays. I did want to drop a note in here that “Wipe Out” was originally recorded by The Surfaris, and the Beach Boys did not record a cover until the late '80s in collaboration with hip hop group The Fat Boys, and that is definitely not the version most people have heard.

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Whoever authored the YouTube video is who wrote Beach Boys cover. I only shared the link. Growing up on Golden Oldies, I heard Wipe Out by The Surfaris probably thousands of times. It’s a personal favorite of mine. The Beach Boys cover never really captured the feel of the original. Thanks for clarifying Hippy. Sorry for any confusion. Some of these clips have only a single source online to lean on. So I used it despite my reservations on the exact same grounds you stated.

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Phase IV (1974). Modern Trailer.

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Ants Lay Siege To Lab.

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@optiMSTie Perhaps the most unusual experiment they’ve ever done? I can’t imagine much stranger.

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Lynne Frederick in Phase IV (1974).

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Say miss interociter

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It is always interesting to see these KTMA episodes for the first time. They have gotten into something of stride by time this aired, and were even doing commercials for a local pizza place. These have to count as the first Madvertisements. The movie starts with some trippy scenes, and then begins showing us the lives of ants for a while. It eventually gets around to having actual characters, and a plot involving ants taking over the world, one desert at a time. For the record, I like the original trippy ending better than the one that they went with, it makes for a nice bookend with the beginning of the film, although it does go on for a bit.

I always have to remind myself that Joel and the bots are basically watching the movies cold, and riffing them real time. They occasionally step on each other’s riffs, and Joel gets cracked up at one point during this episode by one of Servo’s riffs. I also noticed that Trace had not quite developed Crow’s personality to the point that it shows through in the theater yet.

There was one fun bit in the theater where Servo extends his head to look like the towers the ants built. I don’t think they ever did anything like that with Servo again. It did look like Josh had a bit of trouble getting it back down, however, so likely had something to do with it being a one time gag. All in all, it was fun to watch, and it looks like it would be a good candidate for a re-riff with the modern MST3K treatment.

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Indubitably. The glamour of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) teams in Phase IV (1974). Austerity, audacity, idiosyncrasy. Laden and accessorized with ambient freakishness, this careens towards a gulf of minutiae appealing in one sense and ineffective in another. Hosted by Jonah or Emily, the veneer of the arty and the shoddy structure are an open invitation to riff again. Hopefully it’s in the cards.

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