STARRING: William Hurt, Blair Brown,
Bob Balaban, Charles Haid
1980, 102 minutes, Directed by: Ken Russell
Description:This film's original source novel was intended as a serious exploration
of altered consciousness, inspired by the immersion-tank experiments of
Dr. John Lilly in the 1970s. William Hurt made his bold film debut as the
psycho-physiologist who plays guinea pig to his own experiments; Blair
Brown plays his equally brilliant wife, whose devotion is just strong
enough to bring him back from the most altered state imaginable.
halfway Altered States is right on track.
The researcher played by
William Hurt (in his movie debut) is like the Last Hippie Searching For
the Ultimate Trip. He has some stunning
hallucinations in an immersion tank and while imbibing some weird drugs
(presumably peyote.) All is done with typical
Ken Russell flair and style and these scenes are truly well done -
expensive and original special effects and some great music.
movie starts going wrong about halfway: Hurt is genetically altered by
all the strange substances he has been consuming throughout the movie
and metamorphoses into a hulking ape-man that goes on rampage.
comment on the Sixties Baby Boomers? Satire? A serious investigation
into themes explored by psychedelic and mystic luminaries such as Castaneda,
Huxley and Timothy Leary? Or merely a movie that doesn't know where it's
going and what it should do with its material? And therefore tags on a
schlock horror bit to what was otherwise interesting - at least on a visual
fare by Ken Russell who once gave the world the world such movie
classics as Women In Love and Mahler. See it
for the hallucinogenic scenes: real-time acid flashbacks!
Sci-Fi Movie Page Pick:Real-time acid flashbacks! William Hurt's acting debut! British enfant terrible Ken (Women In Love, Mahler)
Russell's big budget Hollywood pic may not have set the box office alight back in the
early-1980s, but its hallucogenic special effects no doubt caused many an ex-hippie an acid
Top 100 Sci-Fi
of all time