Saul Bass, a renowned graphic designer famous for his title sequences in films by iconic directors like Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick, only directed one feature film in his career – the 1974 sci-fi movie “Phase IV.” Originally, the fourth phase of the film was cut out before its release, but it was later restored in 2012. The film has gained a cult following over the years, leading to a basic release in 2015 and now a deluxe edition in 4K by Vinegar Syndrome. This new release includes both the 84-minute theatrical version and the 89-minute “preview version” with the restored fourth phase, along with bonus features such as a commentary track by film historian Matthew Asprey Gear, a documentary by filmmaker Elijah Drenner, a featurette on the score and sound design, deleted shots and raw footage, and a gallery of promotional materials.

The film “Phase IV” follows a group of scientists who encounter an unusual phenomenon involving ants evolving to a dangerous level of intelligence. As they try to understand and control the situation, they face unexpected challenges and dangers. The restored version of the film allows viewers to experience the complete story as originally intended by Bass, providing a deeper insight into his vision and storytelling. The 4K release by Vinegar Syndrome showcases the film in high quality, enhancing the visual and cinematic elements that make it a unique and compelling sci-fi experience.

The commentary track by film historian Matthew Asprey Gear offers valuable insights into the making of “Phase IV” and its significance in the realm of science fiction cinema. Gear’s analysis and commentary provide a context for understanding Bass’s directorial debut and its place in film history. Additionally, the documentary by filmmaker Elijah Drenner delves into the production process and the challenges faced in bringing Bass’s vision to the screen. Through interviews and behind-the-scenes footage, viewers can learn more about the creative decisions and artistic choices that shaped the final outcome of the film.

The featurette on the score and sound design highlights the importance of music and sound in enhancing the atmosphere and mood of “Phase IV.” The behind-the-scenes look at the audio elements of the film showcases the collaboration between the creative team and the composer to create a captivating auditory experience for the audience. By exploring the technical aspects of sound design, viewers can gain a deeper appreciation for the immersive quality of the film. Additionally, the inclusion of deleted shots and raw footage offers a glimpse into the editing process and the scenes that didn’t make it to the final cut, providing a comprehensive view of the filmmaking journey.

Overall, the deluxe edition of “Phase IV” by Vinegar Syndrome presents a comprehensive and immersive viewing experience for fans of sci-fi cinema and followers of Saul Bass’s work. The restoration of the fourth phase of the film allows audiences to fully appreciate the narrative and thematic elements of Bass’s directorial vision. With a range of bonus features that delve into the making of the film, including commentary, documentaries, and behind-the-scenes footage, this release offers a deep dive into the world of “Phase IV” and its significance in the landscape of 1970s science fiction. The attention to detail and commitment to preserving the artistic integrity of the film make this edition a must-have for collectors and enthusiasts alike.

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