Phase IV: The Evolution Cut

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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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Overall rating
 
9.8
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0(9)
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10.0(9)
Audio Editing
 
9.9(9)
Narrative
 
9.7(9)
Enjoyment
 
9.8(9)
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Overall rating
 
8.8
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
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10.0
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10.0
Narrative
 
9.0
Enjoyment
 
8.0
This is a great edit that I heartily recommend to anyone who wants some contemplative, old skool sci-fi. It didn't really click with me personally as a film, though. (Full thoughts here: https://boxd.it/2zbiAp)

Honestly, the close-up photography sequences often go on too long and just have little-to-no context without the narration. I think they needed trimming to avoid being sleep-inducing and indulgent. And then as a film there are just still a fair few goofy moments and bits of really muddled accents and dodgy acting...easy to see why this was used for MST3K.

Overall, this edit turns the famous flop into a genuinely respectable movie. The new musical choices mostly worked well for me (again, a bit droning and sleep-inducing at a few points) and the visual quality was fantastic. Looks really great for how old this film was. This ultimately just wasn't really my kind of movie and I had a hard time taking it as seriously as it seems to want (I might have burst out laughing at a few of the human/ant physical battles). But an amazing editing feat that is sure to find its audience.

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Overall rating
 
9.8
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10.0
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10.0
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10.0
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9.0
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10.0
A far cry from the earnest-but-hobbled attempt at sci-fi grandeur that I first experienced years ago as an early MST3K episode, LastSurvivor has given us one of the absolute masterworks not only of fanediting but, in restoring this film to as close as possible to its intended form, one of the masterworks of science fiction film. An absolute psychedelic marvel from beginning to end, it is both a descendent of 2001 and a progenitor of Primer. (Anyone, like myself, bemoaning that we'll likely never see another film from disgraced genius Shane Carruth would do well to track this edit down.)

The music, the editing, the restoration of the climactic sequence, everything about this edit is perfect. My only small complaint is that perhaps Bass' original ending doesn't seem to quite stick the landing in terms of the profundity of 2001's alien-driven-evolution-of-mankind, but who knows, I may change my mind on future viewings -- of which there will definitely be many, if for no other reason than to marvel over how the insects of the film manage such stunning performances.

Even rivalling the lead turn by Michael Murphy, aka "the guy who played the mayor in Batman Returns."

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DVD
R
Top 50 Reviewer 124 reviews
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Talk about elevating the source material, sheesh. This was awesome, awesome in the dictionary definition of the word. About as close to feeling like 2001: A Space Odyssey as a foot-fetishizing killer ant story with a crazed researcher and a leering linguist can get. I will very much look forward to returning to this edit in the years to come.

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(Updated: March 21, 2021)
Overall rating
 
10.0
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10.0
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10.0
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10.0
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
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
10.0
Audio Editing
 
9.0
Narrative
 
9.0
Enjoyment
 
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!

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Top 50 Reviewer 77 reviews
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