Altered States

1980 sci-fi drug trip

Rating: 15/20

Plot: Researchers experiment with Mexican hallucinogenics and isolation tanks in order to de-evolve into rampaging ape men.

Bob Balaban!

More psychosexual shenanigans from Ken Russell, a dude not afraid to indulge. Here, he goes full trip, alluding to Coca Cola and linking sex with God ("What are you thinking about?" "God. Jesus. Crucifixion." might be the worst pillow talk of all time!). Both visuals and sound team up for a mind scramble, warping senses and making hallucinogenic drugs and isolation chambers seem horrifying and wonderful. Monkey man parkour--dig that ape transformation and William Hurt laughing at his monkey feet!--attracted the dumb guy in me while the psychological/philosophical mumbo-jumbo baffled. There's a story, but to me, it's secondary. The avant-garde-for-the-mainstream trip sequences--that's where it's at. A flashy psychedelic parade! I can't imagine watching this movie on actual hallucinogenics would be recommended. If Larry still read my blog, he could let us know.

My favorite scene isn't a trip though. It's where Hurt, in his de-evolved monkey-man state, frightens a janitor. That, or lovers turning to statues turning to dust, a terrific and poignant use of special effects to tell the true story of everlasting romantic love.

John Corigliano did the really cool score.

Hi, there!

I believe that thing is mentioned in the Bible, Donald Trump's favorite book. 

Did I mentioned Bob Balaban is in this movie? He plays the 7-eyed ram thing. 


Larsty said...

need to see this again. fantasia is the only movie I enjoyed on hallucinogens.

cory said...

This was the first in a run of good to great William Hurt movies in the 80's. For some reason he has done almost nothing significant in the nearly 30 years since. This film is all about mood. The plot is goofy, and the science is laughable, but it is still weirdly involving and kind of cool. I wonder if a movie like this could ever be made today? Maybe if superheroes got involved. A 16, mostly for nostalgia's sake.

Shane said...

Surprised you'd like this, Cory. In what context did you see it? (I'm guessing not on hallucinogens. . .)

cory said...

I don't think I was under ant sort of influence, but let's just say that I was in an experimental phase at the time. Hurt was the appeal. He totally sells this material (along with some really trippy effects). His acting was original an electric in most of those 80's movies. Then he just seems to have lost it...or his shtick wore out its welcome. Many actors go on a streak, and then once it's over, never are as good, again. O'Toole, Costner, and Hoffman come to mind.