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)
Reviews
Popularity
4,439 ( 184)

WAYS TO
WATCH:

See all
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 5 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

The Devils (1971)
Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

In 17th-century France, Father Urbain Grandier seeks to protect the city of Loudun from the corrupt establishment of Cardinal Richelieu. Hysteria occurs within the city when he is accused of witchcraft by a sexually repressed nun.

Director: Ken Russell
Stars: Vanessa Redgrave, Oliver Reed, Dudley Sutton
Comedy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

Scottish archaeologist Angus Flint discovers an odd skull amid the ruins of a convent that he is excavating. Shortly thereafter, Lady Sylvia Marsh returns to Temple House, a nearby mansion,... See full summary »

Director: Ken Russell
Stars: Amanda Donohoe, Hugh Grant, Catherine Oxenberg
Scanners (1981)
Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A scientist sends a man with extraordinary psychic powers to hunt others like him.

Director: David Cronenberg
Stars: Jennifer O'Neill, Stephen Lack, Patrick McGoohan
Lisztomania (1975)
Biography | Comedy | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A send-up of the bawdy life of Romantic composer/piano virtuoso Franz Liszt, with ubiquitous phallic imagery and a good portion of the film devoted to Liszt's "friendship" with fellow ... See full summary »

Director: Ken Russell
Stars: Roger Daltrey, Sara Kestelman, Paul Nicholas
Videodrome (1983)
Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A sleazy cable-TV programmer begins to see his life and the future of media spin out of control in a very unusual fashion when he acquires a new kind of programming for his station.

Director: David Cronenberg
Stars: James Woods, Debbie Harry, Sonja Smits
Gothic (1986)
Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

Story of the night that Mary Shelley gave birth to the horror classic "Frankenstein." Disturbed drug induced games are played and ghost stories are told one rainy night at the mad Lord ... See full summary »

Director: Ken Russell
Stars: Gabriel Byrne, Julian Sands, Natasha Richardson
Tommy (1975)
Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A psychosomatically deaf, dumb and blind boy becomes a master pinball player and, subsequently, the object of a religious cult.

Director: Ken Russell
Stars: Roger Daltrey, Ann-Margret, Oliver Reed
Mahler (1974)
Biography | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Both trifles and structure are tossed out the door by director Ken Russell in this film. Here, historical content matters not so much as metaphors, feelings, emotions, and interpretations, ... See full summary »

Director: Ken Russell
Stars: Robert Powell, Georgina Hale, Lee Montague
Biography | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Piano teacher Peter Ilych Tchaikovsky struggles against his homosexuality by marrying, but unfortunately he chooses a nymphomaniac whom he cannot satisfy.

Director: Ken Russell
Stars: Richard Chamberlain, Glenda Jackson, Max Adrian
Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A strange man known only as the "metal fetishist", who seems to have an insane compulsion to stick scrap metal into his body, is hit and possibly killed by a Japanese "salaryman", out for a... See full summary »

Director: Shin'ya Tsukamoto
Stars: Kei Fujiwara, Tomorowo Taguchi, Nobu Kanaoka
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Biographical film of the life of French sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska.

Director: Ken Russell
Stars: Dorothy Tutin, Scott Antony, Helen Mirren
Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

In a corrupt, greed-fueled world, a powerful alchemist leads a Christ-like character and seven materialistic figures to the Holy Mountain, where they hope to achieve enlightenment.

Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky
Stars: Alejandro Jodorowsky, Horacio Salinas, Zamira Saunders
Edit

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
Edit

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

Plot Keywords:

drugs | science | caveman | ritual | drug | See All (260) »

Taglines:

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


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

25 December 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Estados alterados  »

Box Office

Gross:

$25,000,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

| (MegaSound encoding)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Some footage of "hell" in the hallucinations are from the movie Dante's Inferno (1935) taken from a dream sequence. 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

Mason Parrish: It looks to me like the architecture is slightly abnormal.
Dr. Wissenschaft: Somewhat? This guy's a fucking gorilla!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in House M.D.: House's Head (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Light My Fire
(uncredited)
Written by Robby Krieger, Jim Morrison, John Densmore and Ray Manzarek
Performed by The Doors
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Great Material, Artistically Handled
15 December 2004 | by (Northwest US) – See all my reviews

If you are a thinker now, or grew up looking up at the stars and trying to figure out how the universe could just go on and on forever, this film is for you.

If you like boundaries, and the familiar you will not understand why this film was made, or why this film was made the way it was.

Chayefsky's material is brilliant, and challenging. Russell's approach is startling; more like abstract expressionism than any kind of realism. The performances, especially by Blair Brown and William Hurt are raw and completely authentic.

From start to finish, this film is fascinating, original and consistently realized.


67 of 99 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Why did I just lose 107 minutes of my life?! Silvrhelm
Would you try out the sensory deprivation tank? boognish-6
my philsophical question! toms_lair
Forced Hollywood Ending? byzantym
Blair Brown and Julianne Moore (same DNA) CrowBarSpine
Interesting Truth to Movie (Mushroom) KamatariTheScythe
Discuss Altered States (1980) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?