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Altered States (1980)

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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
4,902 ( 635)
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:

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

The picture was originally in development at the Columbia Pictures studio but when the budget blew-out to US $15 million it went into turnaround, the picture in the end being made at Warner Brothers. See more »

Goofs

When Eddie is in the isolation tank and Arthur monitors him, a printer periodically produces Eddie's EEG in a paper strip that grows every second, with a characteristic noise repeating. When the shot changes, the noise is still heard; thus, when the printer is seen again, the strip should have grown a lot. However, the strip is approximately the same length. See more »

Quotes

Eddie Jessup: [Discussing his father's death, and its impact on his thinking] I haven't told anyone this in ten years. I'm telling you now because I think you have a right to know what kind of a nut you might be getting mixed up with here.
Emily Jessup: Arthur was right. You are a fascinating bastard.
[kisses him]
See more »

Alternate Versions

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

Connections

Referenced in Saturday Night Live: Bill Murray/Delbert McClinton (1981) 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

 
One of Ken Russell's best films
11 October 1998 | by fred-83See all my reviews

This is one of Ken Russell's best films. He manages to balance plot and wild visuals as never before. The acting is also first rate. I watched it again recently I think it still holds up surprisingly well compared to many modern sci-fi movies. The plot is intriguing, I keep thinking that there might be some truth to the concepts presented, and the fact is that our own brains are still largely unexplored territory. A special mention to the extraordinary music written by John Corigliano, and for which he was nominated for an Academy Award. It dares to be loud and violent, and complements the visuals extremely well. This is a wild, original movie unlike any other.


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