6.9/10
26,398
134 user 84 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)
Reviews
Popularity
4,287 ( 338)

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 5 nominations. See more awards »
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
Echeverria
Miguel Godreau ...
Dori Brenner ...
Peter Brandon ...
Hobart
Charles White-Eagle ...
The Brujo
...
Margaret Jessup
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

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  »

Edit

Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$174,650, 28 December 1980, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$19,853,892
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

| (MegaSound encoding)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The film's themes and meaning has oft been debated with many interpretations being put forward such that it's the Orpheus and Eurydice myth; that it's the Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde yarn; that it's really the story Mary and Jesus. The film's writer Paddy Chayefsky once revealed in an interview that "Altered States" was actually really a love story. See more »

Goofs

During the party scene right before Eddie arrives, Arthur is getting ice from the bathtub and the toilet seat is up. But a moment later in the next scene, the toilet seat is down. See more »

Quotes

Emily Jessup: [crying] He doesn't love me. He never loved me. I was never real to him. Nothing in the human experience is real to him.
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 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.


72 of 105 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?
Review this title | See all 134 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page