6.9/10
25,248
131 user 80 critic

Altered States (1980)

A Harvard scientist conducts experiments on himself with a hallucinatory drug and an isolation chamber that may be causing him to regress genetically.

Director:

Writers:

(written for the screen by) (as Sidney Aaron), (novel)
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ON DISC
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 5 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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...
...
...
...
Miguel Godreau ...
Primal Man
Dori Brenner ...
Peter Brandon ...
Charles White-Eagle ...
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Megan Jeffers ...
Grace Jessup
Jack Murdock ...
Hector Orteco
...
Obispo (as Frank McCarthy)
Deborah Baltzell ...
Schizophrenic Patient
...
Young Rosenberg
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Storyline

It's the late 1960's. Just for a lark, graduate student Eddie Jessup, known for being unconventional, brilliant and slightly mad, conducts experiments with an isolation chamber, using himself as the subject. His experiences in the chamber cause him to hallucinate, much of the imagery being religious-based despite he not being a religious man. Seven years later, he is a respected full professor in the Harvard Medical School. Believing he has lost his edge and has fallen into an unwanted state of respectability, Eddie decides to resume his work with sensory deprivation, this time using hallucinogens, specifically untested ones used in mystical Mexican rituals, to enhance the experience of being in the isolation tank. After initial tests, he claims he entered an alternate physical and mental state. Although unbelieving of Eddie's claims, his colleagues Arthur Rosenberg and Mason Parrish, as well as Eddie's wife, Emily, who is in her own right a respected academic, are concerned for ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

When he heard his cry for help it wasn't human See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

25 December 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Estados alterados  »

Box Office

Gross:

$25,000,000 (USA)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

| (MegaSound encoding)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Author Paddy Chayefsky disowned this movie. Even though the dialogue in the screenplay was almost verbatim from his novel he reportedly objected to the general tone of the film and the shouting of his precious words by the actors, this conflicting with Ken Russell's typical style of wanting heightened performances. Paddy Chayefsky had not seen the film before he took his name off the credits, the script being credited to "Sidney Aaron", a pseudonym for Chayefsky, the two names being Chayefsky's real first and middle names. Director Ken Russell and Chayefsky fought constantly during production, Russell maintaining that almost nothing was changed from Chayefsky's script and stating that he was "impossible to please." See more »

Goofs

During the hallucination sequence in the cave, the pyrotechnic charges underneath the mushroom-shaped rock are visible as it elevates, as is the wire lifting it up. See more »

Quotes

Arthur Rosenberg: The way I feel, I don't expect to go to sleep for a year. I'm on fucking fire!
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Connections

Referenced in Mental Saboteur (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Voile d'Orphee
by Pierre Henry
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User Reviews

 
Altered States
9 January 2006 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Altered States is frightening, disturbing, bizarre stuff. It also has a strong heart, and the dialogue is witty and sharp.

This film creates its very real sense of horror from foreboding, often disarming musical cues, and a sense that we're on the journey with Jessup, and we don't know what's real or imagined. It rarely relies on gore, or overt "horror" sequences to affect the viewer, but still manages to be truly frightening and horrifying. Russell tones down his usual excesses, but his stamp is nevertheless all over the disturbing hallucination sequences.

It's easy to spot the strong influence this film must have had on Videodrome. It creates a similar mood.

Thoroughly recommended to anyone with a taste for intelligent horror.


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