Phase IV (1974) – Episode 72 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“The Day The Earth Was Turned Into A Cemetery!” the tagline for Phase IV promises a horror film the heady, occasionally trippy, sci-fi film cannot live up to. Yet, the film succeeds in establishing dread and exposing mankind’s fragile relationship with nature and the planet. Join your faithful Grue Crew – Doc Rotten, Bill Mulligan, and Jeff Mohr – as they face an attack of killer ants who burrow into their fears.

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 72 – Phase IV (1974)

In the early Seventies, every studio had their Sci-Fi epic, a version of their own 2001: A Space Odyssey. And Paramount wanted one too. What they got was Saul Bass’s horror/sci-fi oddity Phase IV. Bass, better known for creating memorable title sequences for films such as Psycho, North by Northwest, and It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, brings a distinct artist’s touch to the film giving it a heady, trippy aesthetic that makes the film stand out from the crowd. Sadly, the film did not connect with 1974 audiences, but the film has gained a cult following.  The cast includes Nigel Davenport, Michael Murphy, and Lynne Frederick as they face an army of intelligent ants of various kinds uniting to take over humanity.

Having never seen the film, Doc Rotten was able to finally catch Phase IV at a theatrical screening at the FantasticRealm Film Series. Having listened to The Black Saint and Bill Mulligan champion the film episode after episode, this was a must, as was including it on the Decades of Horror schedule. Now he can join Bill and Jeff Mohr in discussing the film’s use of “nature” style film to chronicle the ants’ attack on the desert community, it’s distinctive set-design, and much of the movie’s haunting imagery. The slow pace of the film builds towards a chilling and provocative conclusion that only Saul Bass could provide.

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Psycho (1960) – Episode 1 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“We all go a little mad sometimes.” So says Norman Bates in the Alfred Hitchcock classic, Psycho (1960). In this episode, the Decades of Horror: The Classic Era’s Grue-Crew – Chad Hunt, Erin Miskell, Jeff Mohr, and Joseph Perry – proclaim their love for and take a deep dive into Hitchcock’s masterpiece and the mind of Norman Bates. Yes, you read it correctly. We love Norman’s mind and take a deep dive into it. After all, he’s such a nice boy.

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 1 – Psycho (1960)

At the films original release, Hitchcock resorted to a multitude of marketing gimmicks to help promote his  new, fairly low budget, black and white film. The crowds responded in droves, piling up box office receipts more than 32 times the cost of making the film. Erin hosts this episode as we all try to get inside Hitchcock’s mind and end up feeling like Norman Bates could be our special friend (especially Erin!), if it just wasn’t for that whole murdering people thing. Is Norman Bates a nice boy suffering from mental illness or an iconic horror villain?

The story of Psycho unfolds as if it were two separate movies. First is the one telling the story of Marion Crane’s embezzlement from her employer, subsequent flight from the law, and change of heart after meeting Norman Bates. The second story begins with Marion’s murder and its afermath as we learn more about Norman’s relationship with his mother. After all, he’s such a NICE boy.

The Classic Era Grue-Crew is blown away with Psycho by everything from the leads (Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles) to the supporting cast (Martin Balsam, John McIntire, John Anderson, Simon Oakland, Mort Mills, Pat Hitchcock); from Hitchcock’s direction to Saul Bass’ titles and Bernard Herrmann’s score; from Robert Bloch’s source material to Joseph Stefano’s script.

Listen and learn which one of us says:

  • “You need to stop playing with your seat or we’re going home.”
  • “The first time I saw that scene I was 10-years-old and I know some pee came out.”
  • “His initials are G. G., something with a G.”
  • “You might want to rephrase that as, ‘I really need to watch more Kolchak: The Nightstalker.’”

We plan to release a new episode every other week. Our upcoming schedule includes Maneater of Hydra (aka Island of the Doomed, 1967), King Kong (1933) in conjunction with the March 10, 2017 release of Kong: Skull Island, Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), and The Tingler (1959).

Please let us know what you think and what films you’d like to hear us cover! We want to hear from you! Send us an email  (,,, or or leave us a message, a review or a comment at, iTunes, the Horror News Radio App, or the Horror News Radio Facebook group.