6.9/10
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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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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 5 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
Miguel Godreau ...
Primal Man
Dori Brenner ...
Peter Brandon ...
Charles White-Eagle ...
...
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

One of the film's main movie poster featured a long preamble that read: "In the basement of a university medical school Dr. Jessup floats naked in total darkness. The most terrifying experiment in the history of science is out of control... and the subject is himself." See more »

Goofs

The recording which Emily listens to of Eddie's first drug induced tank trip isn't the same as the original dialog. Some of the wording is changed and the loud primal "grunt" which alarmed both Mason and Arthur has been replaced with a sound much more resembling that of a monkey. See more »

Quotes

Eddie Jessup: Emily's quite content to go on with this life. She insists she's in love with me - whatever that is. What she means is she prefers the senseless pain we inflict on each other to the pain we would otherwise inflict on ourselves. But I'm not afraid of that solitary pain. In fact, if I don't strip myself of all this clatter and clutter and ridiculous ritual, I shall go out of my fucking mind. Does that answer your question, Arthur?
Arthur Rosenberg: What question was that?
Eddie Jessup: You asked me why I was getting divorced.
Arthur Rosenberg: ...
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Connections

Referenced in Psych: Any Given Friday Night at 10PM, 9PM Central (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Voile d'Orphee
by Pierre Henry
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User Reviews

 
Surreal and intelligent sci-fi.
26 May 2008 | by (N. Virginia, US) – See all my reviews

This is William Hurt's debut, and there's much to praise about it. Firstly, outstanding performance. The kind that lasts an impression and is thought of every time "William Hurt" is pronounced out loud. The film, in a nutshell could be summed up as a man's obsessive quest for the "truth". Truth about life, and the universe, why we're here, who created us? These are the core questions Ken Russel - more fairly, the original author Paddy Chayefsky - asks. All of that, is assisted by insane hallucinatory and downright horrifying visual sequences and music, which when combined, literally gave me goosebumps when I saw it all on screen. They take you on a surreal 'trip' and are a way for the viewer to experience what Hurt's character undergoes when he is in the isolation chamber. On another note, the pacing is a little slow in the first act, but sudden outbursts of surreal visual sequences get you back up in form.

If you're a thinker, this one's for you.


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