Category Archives: Review

Phase IV’s Long Lost Ending (SPOILER ALERT)

Well now I know why the studio took control of Phase IV and removed most of Saul Bass’s original ending. It was almost like I was having a brief flashback to the first third of the movie Beyond the Black Rainbow–but without the same artistry.**

The downside is that while they removed as much of the 70’s psychedelic montage as possible (supposedly it was pulled because it didn’t test very well, but I personally felt it distracted from the way majority of the movie was filmed anyway), they still managed to cut out a few seconds that contained one of the most important pieces of the movie!

The way the movie was originally released–each phase is titled in the movie–with the exception of the the final phase. Because of this, I originally thought that the movie title “Phase IV” referred to the fourth step in the evolution of the ants; but once I saw the movie with the missing ending, I realized that I had it backwards.

Phase 1: The first phase was the unnamed cosmic event that triggered the ants’ intelligence and coming together of all different species of ants to work as one hive.

Phase 2: I’m mentally kicking myself right now because I can’t remember what the second phase was and that means I’ll have to watch the movie again soon.

Phase 3: This one was interesting because all it showed was the activity of normal desert animals – but without any of the animals being attacked by ants. And this is after we were previously told that the ants had chased out or killed off many of the other desert creatures. Once seeing the missing footage, including the unintentionally humorous bits with humans flying and interacting in other ways with animals, this segment makes a bit more sense. The third phase was the integration of other creatures into the hive way of life where all animals have their specialization or place in society.

And that brings us to Phase 4 and what I consider to be the most important few seconds of film footage cut out of the ending.

In the missing ending, right before the bizarre montage begins that shows the integration of humans into a similar hive society, the title “Phase IV” appears in the same place and in EXACTLY the same way as the previous three phases. That’s when I realized that humans joining the ant society was the fourth and final phase, and that eventually the entire planet would be one massive hive containing all life.

Why was the part with the final phase cut? Probably because once the rest was cut out, it would have left it appearing in the upper right hand corner showing the beginning of the fourth phase right before the final credits began, which also includes the title “Phase IV”. With everything else cut out, there was nothing between them and it would have looked like an odd duplication. I just wish they had put in a bit more of the montage, as it wasn’t all bad (just most of it), so that the final phase could have appeared correctly.

In a perfect world, a completely different ending should have been filmed. And I don’t mean changing the way the story ended–a vague, abstract ending is fine, but in all honesty, neither of the endings were very well done.

Do I still like this movie? Yes. And knowing how it was supposed to end makes it even better in my mind… as long as I never have to watch the missing footage again. I guess I’ll have to hunt down the novelization by Barry Malzberg so I can see how close I am to the real story.

 

**I didn’t find out until after watching the movie at the Alamo that Panos Cosmatos had mentioned in an interview that Phase IV had inspired the general look of Beyond the Black Rainbow. (I still haven’t decided whether I loved or hated that movie, but it really does deserve to eventually have its own post rather than simply being a footnote in this one.)

PHASE IV, the Movie

Even if my unnamed body part was still having major issues – I wouldn’t pass up tonight’s event at the Alamo Drafthouse.

THE ACADEMY AND ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE CINEMA PRESENT PHASE IV FEATURING THE LONG-LOST ENDING!

“A box office disappointment in its initial release, PHASE IV is one of those underappreciated sci-fi gems that is only now being reappraised by modern audiences. In partnership with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Academy Film Archive, we at the Drafthouse are proud to present a brand-new 35mm print of PHASE IV created specifically for this event!

This once-in-a-lifetime presentation will also include a rare screening of a new high-definition digital transfer of film’s original psychedelic end sequence, long rumored not to exist at all!”

Ellen Harrington, the Director of Exhibitions and Special Events for the Academy will also be there to introduce the movie and share the story of the original ending.

I’m excited because I’ve always loved Phase IV (named after the fourth phase or stage–of something or other that I’ve already forgotten–triggering the ants’ development of intelligence…wow, I just realized how long it’s been since I’ve seen it). While I hate to call this movie a thinking man’s version of the animals-suddenly-evolving-and-attempting-to-attack-man genre, in a way that’s exactly what it is. And while I’ve seen so many of the other movies of this sort (I’m a bit masochistic in my movie choices), Phase IV really IS one of the better ones.

And I can’t wait to see the original ending.

Splurging at Vosage on International Chocolate Day

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One of my goals for this year’s trip to Las Vegas is to visit as many chocolatier shops as possible. Well, more like as many as I can afford. Today I stopped at Vosges Haut-Chocolat in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, which was unintentionally appropriate as today is also International Chocolate Day.

Why unintentionally appropriate? Well, I had forgotten about International Chocolate Day, and the Vosges business card provided by the lovely and knowledgable Kara has the tagline “Travel the world through chocolate“. Like my name, it couldn’t have worked out better if I had tried (that’s actually a quote from my Mom about the translation of my name–which includes donkeys. And that’s probably more than you need to know).

Back to Kara and traveling the world through chocolate. I had heard so much about Vosges’ exotic chocolate bars, but once I was there, I couldn’t make up my mind about which ones I wanted to try. I certainly couldn’t afford all of them. Luckily, I found the Mini Exotic Chocolate Bar Library for $25. It contains nine 1/2 ounce candy bars, including: Black Pearl, Red Fire, Naga, Amalfi, Barcelona, Woolloomooloo, Oaxaca, Bapchi’s Caramel Toffee, and Mo’s Milk Chocolate Bacon Bar. I haven’t decided if I’m sharing any of these with anyone as they’re tiny little bars.

While ringing me up, Kara talked me into sampling one of the truffles. This was the first time that I’ve ever picked out a food item based on nothing else other than its name.

Funk and Disco.

How could you not eat a truffle called Funk and Disco?

It was wonderful and I had to have more.

So… I ended up purchasing a four-piece box of truffles. And because the Taleggio cheese truffles were too large to fit in that box, I had to get another set of two (I really wanted to try it).

I’d have also walked out with the Red Fire Toffee (sooooo tasty!!!), but they only sell it by the half pound. If I win another few games, I’ll grab some to take home.

NOTE: I would like to take a moment to point out that our room is not set up for taking photographs of candy. The lighting sucks, as does my photography skills, and I had to use my pillow case as the backdrop. Also, chunky, serrated knives are not very good at slicing tempered chocolate with delicate centers without mangling them a bit.

Now to introduce the truffles:

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Funk and Disco
Buttermilk banana pudding + vanilla powder + milk chocolate truffle (41% cacao)

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It was pretty damn good, which is how Kara suckered me into purchasing more than I originally planned. Dusted with vanilla powder, the banana pudding flavor was nicely strong and the slight tang of the buttermilk kept the milk chocolate from being too sweet. (Now I need to find out if adding a little buttercream will improve my banana pudding recipe.)
 
Ambrosia
Australian macadamia nuts + Cointreau + white chocolate

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I’m a sucker for good white chocolate and anything with orange, so the Ambrosia truffle was an obvious choice. I’d have preferred a few more of the chopped macadamia nuts, but other than that, it was very smooth and non-greasy with a light taste of triple sec (I hate it when all you can taste is the booze. If I wanted that, I’d be drinking instead of eating truffles). Definitely one that I’d purchase again.
 
Tlan Nacu
Mexican vanilla bean + Venezuelan 65% dark chocolate

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This one had a card with a full description. “Tlan Nacu, meaning “good heart,” is the name of a small vanilla bean plantation in thetown of Papantia on the Gulf Coast of Mexico. Plump vanilla beans are infused in warm cream imparting a very distinct Mexican vanilla flavor. Dark chocolate and hand-picked vanilla beans…simply enchanting!”

I’m in love. Dark, velvety chocolate love. I’m going back for a box of Tlan Nacu before leaving Vegas. (I only ate half of this one. I’m saving the other half for a perfect moment.)
 
Balsamico
12-year aged balsamic vinegar from Modena + dark chocolate + Sicilian hazelnuts

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The one thing I’ve noticed about the truffles so far is that the additional flavors don’t overpower the chocolate. That’s important, especially when you’re adding vinegar to the equation–even if it’s balsamic vinegar. While I selected the Balsamico because I was curious about it, I’d definitely eat a few more of them.
 
Rooster
Taleggio cheese + organic walnuts + Tahitian vanilla bean + bittersweet dark chocolate

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The Rooster has a fairly long description that starts off reading like a description of wine and ends up asking you to open your mind and deconstruct what you know about chocolate. Warning: When someone starts asking you to open your mind before trying something… it may be time to rethink what you’re getting ready to do.

The truffle center didn’t immediately melt when hitting the tongue like the other selections, probably due to the inclusion of cheese. The cheese was slightly strong and salty, and it worked surprisingly well with the bittersweet chocolate. While I wouldn’t purchase the Rooster again, it was interesting and I was still more than willing to eat both of the ones I purchased.

Overall, this experience has taught me that Katrina Markoff, Vosges Haut-Chocolat’s owner and chocolatier, has a way of making exotic, and sometimes extremely odd, ingredients work with chocolate. At their best, they’ll have your eyes rolling up in the back of your head while and making obscene moaning noises (you–not your eyes); and at their worst, they’re still edible (utterly unlike a bleu cheese truffle I purchased in Austin).

I’d even give the Olio D’Oliva truffle a try, and that means a lot since I absolutely despise Kalamata olives.

FINAL NOTE: If anyone from Vosges reads this, please, please either give Kara a raise or at least let her know how amazing she is. Kara was willing to answer any questions I had without making me feel like a complete idiot, and she’s obviously great at up-selling chocolate–which should make any company happy.

Have I always been this indecisive?

Good thing it’s just about a book.

It all started when somebody put up a link to an excerpt of Jenny Lawson’s upcoming book Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir). Up until then, I had somehow missing hearing anything about The Bloggess. I have no idea how as this is the sort of thing I love. I’m sharing that link because it was not only very entertaining, but it had me going to her blog and working my way back through her archives (I’ve only gotten as far back as February 6, 2008 as of today).

What I found in her blog was enough for me to pre-order her book through iTunes. At that time, the book had not been released yet, and I’d never pre-0rdered anything through iTunes before (my coworkers may see where this is going…).

Then they announced the book tour would hit Austin. As all the best book signings are at Book People, this would be a perfect excuse to spend time at one of my favorite places in Austin (I don’t do this very often because the visits also tends to be expensive. I mean come on! You can’t expect me to walk into a bookstore and leave with only a few books).

Now I had an important decision to make. Do I purchase a digital copy of the book for $12.99 and have it the same day it’s released; or wait another week until the 25th, rush out after work to fight traffic getting downtown–hoping I can make it to the bookstore within 45 minutes–and pay $25.95 for a hardback version of the book just so I could have Ms. Lawson sign my copy? It may sound like an simple choice, but not only do Steve and I like to support authors we enjoy, we’ve had great experiences at past book signings, and sometimes someone is worth the full price of a hardback. The downside was that Steve wouldn’t be going with me because he’ll be out at Maria Bamford’s show that same night for the Moontower Comedy Festival. And my friends, whom I know would enjoy this book, will be at that show with him. So now add going to the book signing alone as another reason that just purchasing it online was beginning to sound better and better.

So for the past few weeks I’ve been waffling back and fourth between the two. Steve thinks I should go, as does one of my co-workers (but that’s because she says it’s easier for her to borrow a physical copy of the book from me), and all I’m thinking about is how much I hate driving in traffic, feeling rushed, and attending functions alone that really aren’t as much fun by yourself.

And then last night the decision was taken out of my hands.

Remember where I said I pre-ordered the book on iTunes? For some reason I thought that iTunes would ask you if you still wanted the book before downloading it to your device (shut up). I was obviously wrong (I don’t want to hear it). I was at our weekly D&D game last night and went to pull up one of my reference books on the iPad and saw a full copy of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened ( A Mostly True Memoir) in my library (seriously, if Jes hears about this I will STOMP you). So now I had a copy of the book and I didn’t have to worry about the rest of the mess.

Then I started reading the book. Late last night. Really, really late because it had to wait until after our D&D game. I made it to the chapter called “And Then I Got Stabbed in the Face by a Serial Killer” before I gave up and went to bed because I knew I had to be up for work in a four hours (the chapters are not numbered, so they have to be referred to by the title. And I have no idea of they should be italicized or not. Please bare with me or blame Ms. Lawson. Either is fine. Did I use the correct form of “bare”? Crap, I can’t tell).

So here we are. I’ve ended up staying at home today since my husband is still sick and has made it to the point where he does better if someone is around. I haven’t read anymore of the book yet since I wanted to get this written out because I realized a few important things as I was prozacing the cat and getting ready for bed this morning (can you use prozac as a verb?).

1) I’m not even quite halfway through the book, and while Ms. Lawson’s writing style isn’t any different than her blog–I’m thoroughly enjoying myself. The book reads like one of those late-night bull sessions we had in college where we’d sit around, dipping wildly unhealthy snacks into tub of whipped cream mixed with powdered cocoa, and share stories with each other about some of the funnier, weirder, and sometimes even emotionally devastating things that had happened in our lives…although in Ms. Lawson’s case, I can honestly say that so far there’s a lot more dead animals, anxiety disorders, and alcohol than I remember ever having in ours.

2) The book is entertaining even when she makes you cry. I have a few friends who won’t make it through the chapter “If You See My Liver, You’ve Gone Too Far” with dry eyes. You have been warned.

3) I don’t work on Wednesdays. So there won’t be any rushing around after work trying to get to the book signing on time. I have no idea how I could have forgotten this as I haven’t been scheduled to work a Wednesday for about eight months now.

4) Steve still owes me $50 in books from Book People for making all the banana pudding for the Southern Culture on the Skids concert last Friday.

So yeah. I’ll be at Book People on April 25th with a hardback copy of her book for Ms. Lawson to sign. I may feel a bit out of place not knowing anyone there, but if she’s willing to take a chance on sharing so much with complete strangers–albeit in a very entertaining fashion–then I can handle a little personal awkwardness.

More Candy Corn!

Deadly Sweet - Halloween 2011

(The plushies in the photo can be purchased through Michelle Coffee’s Deadly Sweet Etsy site. I’d have used one of my own photos, but the little green zombie candy corn was just too cute to ignore.)

Last year I tried 12 different flavors and/or brands of candy corn. If you missed that, you can catch up here. Today, I found two more brands of candy corn that I’ve never tried before, so I’m testing them out right now. The control candy corn is still Brach’s as it’s my favorite (that is until I can locate that gourmet candy corn I had once many years ago that was FABULOUS).

First up is Zachary Candy Corn mello-creme. This is as soon as I can rip the bag open… crap. Now I have to put the computer down and hunt up a pair of scissors. Hold on a sec. Oh wow, very fragrant. And somewhat odd. I can definitely taste the honey in them. And if you can imagine it, a hell of a lot more sugar than candy corn should have. I know that’s a strange thing to say about something that is almost all sugar, but most brands have enough salt in them to keep the huge amount of sugar from being too cloying. Zachary’s candy corn doesn’t seem to and they make my teeth hurt.

The second bag is Autumn Corn from Cost Plus (sold at World Market). And it tastes like Cost Plus is a distribution point for Zachary’s after a rather large markup.

Wow, now I have two more bags to dump on someone give to a lucky, lucky person.

Brach’s is $1.49 for 11 0z.

Zachary Candy Corn is $2.99 for 16 oz.

Cost Plus Autumn Corn is $3.99 for 10 oz.

Brach’s is still the winner and will soon be joining some salty cashews for me to snack on.