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Altered States (1980)

6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 19,757 users  
Reviews: 124 user | 73 critic

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

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Title: Altered States (1980)

Altered States (1980) on IMDb 6.9/10

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Miguel Godreau ...
Dori Brenner ...
Peter Brandon ...
Charles White-Eagle ...
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Megan Jeffers ...
Jack Murdock ...
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Obispo (as Frank McCarthy)
Deborah Baltzell ...
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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:

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 »


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)
 »

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

This film was an early user of primitive CGI. The final transformation segments scanned in footage of William Hurt wearing Dick Smith's distorted bodysuits and added in the granular energy effect by computer. This film was also one of the first movies to use computer assistance to make rotoscope mattes (needed for both Hurt's and Blair Blown's transformation in the final sequence). See more »

Goofs

At one point, the character of Mason Parrish refers to the "nuc-you-lus" of a cell (as opposed to the correct "nuc-lee-us".) While it's a commonly mispronounced word, it's very unlikely that a scientist with Parrish's credentials would make that mistake on a word that they likely read, hear and use practically every day. See more »

Quotes

Eddie Jessup: I can't live with it Emily, the pain is unbearable.
Emily Jessup: We all live with it. That unbearable terror is what makes us such singular creatures. We hide from it, we succumb to it, mostly we defy it! We build fragile little structures to keep it out. We love, we raise families, we work, we make friends. We write poems...
See more »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

Voile d'Orphee
by Pierre Henry
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User Reviews

 
Right up there with "2001" and "Performance" as the best of head-trip cinema
20 February 2007 | by (Worcester, MA) – See all my reviews

Who'd guess that one of the finest psychedelic films wouldn't be released in the late 60s or early 70s but 1980! "Altered States" ranks up there with "El Topo", "2001", and "Performance" as the finest film about hallucinogenics. Don't expect this to be any mere pretentious trip film geared to appeal primarily to stoners. "Altered States" is an intelligent film that shows more and more depth upon repeated viewings. It may be a head-trip movie, but you don't need to be on drugs to enjoy and appreciate this film.

This is probably Ken Russel's best film. Russel is mostly known for gaudy and over-the-top camp such as "Tommy" and "The Devils". This is one of his most surprising films because for once he keeps his visual excess under control. Its only during the hallucinations that you're reminded this is a Ken Russel film. The effects during these sequences are fantastic and probably the highlight of the entire film. The acting is also first-rate if largely overwhelmed by Russel's direction and the screenplay by Paddy Chayefsky.

The only minor complaint I have is the transformation sequence. When Hurt turns into a gorilla, it goes from being surreal to outright silly. Still, this is a Ken Russel film so I guess he had to include a bit of camp. Its still entertaining and not distracting enough to detract from the film's overall brilliance. (8/10)


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So much potential... snook_ocreed
Why did I just lose 107 minutes of my life?! Silvrhelm
Would you try out the sensory deprivation tank? boognish-6
Blair Brown and Julianne Moore (same DNA) CrowBarSpine
my philsophical question! toms_lair
Forced Hollywood Ending? byzantym
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