Phase IV: The Evolution Cut

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phaseivevolution_poster
Faneditor Name:
Tagline:
Time to Evolve
Original Movie Title:
Fanedit Type:
Original Release Date:
1974
Original Running Time:
84
Fanedit Release Date:
Fanedit Running Time:
85
Time Cut:
3
Time Added:
4
Available in HD?
Brief Synopsis:
Phase IV is a cult sci-fi movie like no other. Often derided as a failed attempt to make an intelligent creature feature, it was to be the only feature film made by famous graphic designer Saul Bass, and is undeservedly grouped in with later 70’s B movie features such as Empire of the Ants, The Swarm and the like. To be truthful, this is similar to saying 2001: A Space Odyssey should sit alongside Battle Beyond the Stars. Paramount didn’t know what they had, and even cut Bass’ remarkable 5 minute montage style ending.
Intention:
To insert the original ending which Bass intended, making a more complete experience for the story. Also, to rescore the film. I have no problem with the original score, however I really wanted to push the soundscape style approach of the music further still, hopefully making Phase IV feel more other-worldly – you could even say, alien. Therefore, music from Loscil and Jean-Michel Jarre will be used. On top of this, I have never cared much for the voiceover/narration which runs through the film. By all accounts, even Bass was not keen on it, as it spoon feeds the viewer too much - therefore this will be cut too.
Other Sources:
Music...
Loscil - "Monument Builders" and "Equivalents"
Jean-Michel Jarre - "Oxygene Part 20"
image
Special Thanks:
Sophie Welch
BionicBob
Toodles
and everyone who has shown an interest in the edit on the forum
Release Information:
Digital
Special Features
Audio Commentary
Editing Details:
The main intention of this edit is to use a new music score, and insert the original ending that Saul Bass shot. Other than that, there are only a few minor trims which I will detail here.
Also, all voiceover and narration has been removed. Bass was never that happy with this aspect of the film, and I’ve always wanted the film to succeed without this kind of “spoon feeding” to the audience.
Cuts and Additions:
- Cut one very small scene during the opening of the film where we are seeing the Ant colony for the first time… it’s just a transition scene which goes to black. Now instead of going to black, it just goes straight to the next shot
- As James and Hobbs are meeting with the family at their home to warn them to evacuate, have cut the scene where Kendra waves goodbye to them due to the somewhat corny nature of it which feels more like a shampoo advert
- After her family have been killed by the ants and Kendra opens the cellar door which was keeping her safe, have removed the zoom-in to Hobbs, as it appears unnatural and forced
- Trimmed the scene where James talks to Kendra to calm her down and says let’s get you some breakfast… instead of seeing her then go with James and get a drink, the scene now cuts to James immediately being distracted by more news on their studies by Hobbs
- Cut Kendra’s line “go away…. Please go away”, after she wakes up and sees a solitary ant
- Slightly trimmed and re-ordered some shots as Hobbs is having a bit of breakdown as he tries to find one ant in their lab
- Cut the scene where James comforts Kendra after Hobbs had his breakdown, where he had basically blamed her for the ants knowing what they are up to. The scene just seems to a bit too fluffy and clumsy
- After James says “like rats in a maze”, he goes on to talk out his exact thought process as to what’s going on.. however, this feels like needless exposition, as by this point the viewer should be on-board and able to deduct things for themselves. Therefore, have trimmed this scene to remove most of this.
- Slight cut to Bass’ original ending, as Kendra leaves the lab and goes looking for the ants and literally starts to talk to them, just before they start biting her toes. Have now cut her talking to them
- Another very minor cut. In Bass’ original montage ending, have removed one shot where the ant is superimposed over Kendra and James
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(Updated: March 21, 2021)
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After this edit won FEOTM,I was convinced I needed to see this edit! I'm a graphic Designer and love Saul Bass as a Graphic Designer. Never been much into horror or old movies, but I feel obligated to check out this project so I ordered the DVD.

I would definitely recommend watching the original first, to be sure how much was edited. I am not big on older movies, but this one was surprisingly well done in a strage, timeless sci-fi way. Very interesting cinematography to be sure. Classic 70s vibe.

Now, on the the review of the edit - the original Phase IV was insane, but without the narration, I feel like whateder I'm on just "kicked in", the beginning felt like a drug flashback, (in a good way LOL) This edit is so... cerebral. Saul Bass's visuals seem so much deeper and more like an art piece. The Hubbs character seems a little less sinister, awhich I do miss a little, but Lesko seems a little less creepy on Kendra, which is a positive. Love the soundtrack updates.

And that ending. That drug trip kicked back in for sure! Sooo much better.

I knew Saul was a little insane like we artists all are, but man what a weird good movie. So glad I bought the disc and took this ride! Thank you for bringing attention to this weird weird movie. I'm not usually a big fan of older movies either.

Some fanedits are definitely hit or miss, but this is the good stuff and why I love this community. So weird, I love it!!!
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Overall rating
 
9.7
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10.0
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9.0
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10.0
Saul Bass's only directorial contribution to the world of feature-film is Phase IV - a cerebral, science-fiction horror(?) concerning a dramatic increase in ants' intelligence and ability organise.

Last Survivor's edit removes overdub narration and restores Saul Bass' original ending, which was changed for the theatrical release. This brings the film more in line with Bass' original vision. Additionally, this edit embraces the film's atmospheric side with an all-synth re-score, utilising the likes of Jean-michelle Jarre.

On the audio editing front, it's hard to fault this. The score-work is perfect and fits the mood of the film wonderfully. Levels are excellently balanced and really show that care has gone into ensuring any changes are appropriate for the source material.

There is one piece of foley that is observable, but not distracting. This is mainly betrayed by where the new SFX sit in the mix and also the quality of the SFX, which are crisper than what has come before. This is fairly subtle though and you are unlikely to notice unless conscious of where the change has been made.

The narrative is easily followed without the presence of overdub narration, though aspects did feel a little rushed to me and so I wondered whether this would have been rectified with some of the narration intact. I will have to compare with the original to be sure. Regardless, the story is communicated well enough. I'm also not a fan of narration, so would possibly opt for this version regardless.

No complaints on visual quality. The only shift is towards the end when we transition into Saul Bass' original ending, where there is noticeable dirt/scratches etc., but this is no fault of the editor's and I didn't find it distracting.

My only real qualm with the edit is that it would have been nice to have had the original score/narration included as an audio option. This would allow both for an easy comparison and also for the film to be seen in a more pure form: with its original score and Saul Bass' ending restored. I do see that there is an editor's commentary though - nice touch! Will have to check that out sometime.

Enjoyment is high. Narratively, I wasn't keen on the ending this time around (again, will need to rewatch the original for comparison), but it was very cool on a visual level. The music choice is excellent and provides an atmosphere that I think I will find hard to separate from the film. I used to listen to a lot of Jarre, so it was nice to re-encounter his music in this form.

Overall an excellent piece of work and definitely an edit I'll revisit!

User Review

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Yes
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Digital
T
Top 100 Reviewer 44 reviews
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(Updated: February 09, 2021)
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This is absolutely incredible.

I am a huge fan of Saul Bass. Phase IV and his short film the Quest are among my favorite movies of all time. I was really excited to see someone had taken on this film. But I can't imagine how Lastsurvivor did this. The audio and video edits were seamless. The changes were all respectfully and only enhanced the original movie. I like the new ending a lot. Congratulations to the editor on an amazing accomplishment.

I highly recommend this.

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Yes
Format Watched?
Digital
C
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(Updated: February 02, 2021)
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Who would have thought 8 minutes of insects going about their business would be such a meditative experience...me neither . For a time there i was ensconsed.
I bought the bluray on the premise of watching Last Survivor's edit after I viewed the original. I had an inkling that I'd seen Phase IV in my younger days but it turned out I hadn't. I'm so pleased the editors passion for the project drove me to explore some horror/sci-fi in all its 70's glory. The film was great but this Evolution cut has turned the dial up another level. The new music is nuance -bordering on native to the original, as if it has always been there under the surface like the movies ant-agonists ...Last Survivor enticed the separate audio channel out for us to enjoy for the rest of our days or at least until the ants takeover.
I wholly agree with the disposal of the unneeded narration ..let the visuals do the talking. Some fine sound FX replacement was carried out, so kudos to the editor for his undertaking.
Now for the crowning glory , the reinsertion of the original Saul Bass ending...im so pleased this become available - its a thing of retro beauty - tinges of 007 opening credits, historic cigarette & perfume commercials, a real experience of the time period and kitsch as kitsch can be - a visual and musical crescendo of the 80mins of celluloid that came before it, heightened by the rescoring.

I have no technical issues with the edit but I would have made one dialogue edit, when Kendra wakes up and Michael asks her if she remembers him - this is a personal choice.

This edit is one of the strongest i've seen - as strong as an ant
L
Top 500 Reviewer 8 reviews
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(Updated: February 01, 2021)
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In all honesty, this was effective enough that I had to go back and familiarize myself with the original audio. Which means that although my appreciation for Gascoine's original score has now since been refreshed to a degree, I'm even more impressed with the audio decisions in this fan edit - As they don't ignore the timbre and emotive tonal motif in the moments that are re-scored and even where they might differ in attitude, it has been obviously contrasted and compared with thought and intuition. The narrative changes that Last Survivor made overall were with a disciplined hand and were spot on. The removal of some of the weaker acting/directing moments raise it's game more than you might expect for how slight they are for the most part and the removal of all narration really opens this film up to an interpretive degree, not to mention the improved atmosphere in which it can be enjoyed. First class editing to help the final piece step up a notch - And to have Bass' original ending to work with also, makes the final touches by LS so worthwhile.

I never just blow smoke etc, so I do have to say I miss the ponderous, characterful bass lines in Gascoines' opening score as we follow our first character through their world (in fact those bass lines were very reminiscent of 'Fantastic Planet' if I remember right - find it if you haven't seen it) But I don't fault the replacement audio here at all. It works very well. It all works very well, including of course all the smaller cues that segue less dynamic moments nicely and populate the soundscape of the laboratory further, alongside existing blips and hums. Whilst not routinely psychedelic, the replacement score retains the required intensity of cumulative moments that are completely in step with the visuals, which at times definitely are psychedelic.

So, a film that was originally subject to tone deaf marketing posters in the cinemas and is in fact a style of feature far closer to the likes of 'The Andromeda Strain' than it is to the giant ant film 'Them', now fits even more comfortably in place alongside more "respectable" science fiction. Highly recommended.

(I didn't realize there was a commentary track by Last Survivor, which I should have checked out before now really, but I wanted to get this down. I will be sure to do that)
Owner's reply February 07, 2021

what can I say? It's great when you get such nice feedback from people who are genuine fans of the original version. I can't tell you how much I love the original film, so I was genuinely hoping that this admiration for Bass' film would still shine through with this new rescoring. To hear that you liked this aspect was such a relief, as I thought long and hard about what music to use. Also glad to hear the little nips and tucks in removing a few scenes worked to the film's advantage too. Thanks so much and glad you enjoyed it!

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