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Altered States (1980)

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2:04 | Trailer
A Harvard scientist conducts experiments on himself with a hallucinatory drug and an isolation chamber that may be causing him to regress genetically.

Director:

Ken Russell

Writers:

Paddy Chayefsky (written for the screen by) (as Sidney Aaron), Paddy Chayefsky (novel)
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Popularity
4,697 ( 419)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
William Hurt ... Eddie Jessup
Blair Brown ... Emily Jessup
Bob Balaban ... Arthur Rosenberg
Charles Haid ... Mason Parrish
Thaao Penghlis ... Eccheverria
Miguel Godreau Miguel Godreau ... Primal Man
Dori Brenner Dori Brenner ... Sylvia Rosenberg
Peter Brandon Peter Brandon ... Hobart
Charles White-Eagle ... The Brujo
Drew Barrymore ... Margaret Jessup
Megan Jeffers Megan Jeffers ... Grace Jessup
Jack Murdock Jack Murdock ... Hector Orteco
Francis X. McCarthy ... Obispo (as Frank McCarthy)
Deborah Baltzell Deborah Baltzell ... Schizophrenic Patient
Evan Richards ... 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:

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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

25 December 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Estados alterados See more »

Filming Locations:

Sierra Madre Occidental, Mexico See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$174,650, 28 December 1980

Gross USA:

$19,853,892

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$19,853,892
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo | 70 mm 6-Track (MegaSound encoding)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Some footage of "hell" in the hallucinations is from Dante's Inferno (1935), taken from a dream sequence. See more »

Goofs

Emily is shown as being very pale in her early scenes. All of her scenes take place in either New York or Boston. However, when she returns to Eddie, her skin tone is exactly the same as it was in the first half of the movie; she is supposed to have been in Africa for several months studying wild primates, but nowhere is she seen to have either a tan or sunburns. 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: ...
See more »

Alternate Versions

ABC edited 7 minutes from this film for its 1983 network television premiere. See more »

Connections

Features Luma Nocturna (1974) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

 
Surreal and intelligent sci-fi.
26 May 2008 | by TermlnatriXSee 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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