Altered States (1980) - Rotten Tomatoes

Altered States (1980)



Critic Consensus: Extraordinarily daring for a Hollywood film, Altered States attacks the viewer with its inventive, aggressive mix of muddled sound effects and visual pyrotechnics.

Altered States Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

William Hurt plays an all-too-dedicated scientist, who ignores his friends and family in his single-minded pursuit of his goal: to discover, for good and all, mankind's true role in the Scheme of Things. To this end, Hurt submits himself to a series of mind-expanding experiments. The last of these "succeeds" to the extent that Hurt is devolved into an apelike monster. Paddy Chayefsky was so enraged at the liberties taken by director Ken Russell with his novel Altered States that the author had his name removed from the credits and replaced with his frequent alias "Sidney Aaron." Chayefsky was not the only person to defect from Altered States; another casualty was special effects wizard John Dykstra.more
Rating: R (nudity, sex, violence, language)
Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery & Suspense, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By: Paddy Chayefsky, Sidney Aaron
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jun 1, 2004
Warner Home Video


William Hurt
as Eddie Jessup
Blair Brown
as Emily Jessup
Bob Balaban
as Arthur Rosenberg
Charles Haid
as Mason Parrish
Miguel Godreau
as Primal Man
Dori Brenner
as Sylvia Rosenberg
Drew Barrymore
as Margaret Jessup
Megan Jeffers
as Grace Jessup
Jack Murdock
as Hector Orteco
Evan Richards
as Young Rosenberg
Hap Lawrence
as Endocrinology Fellow
John Walter Davis
as Medical Technician
Cynthia Burr
as Parrish's Girl
Susan Bredhoff
as Eccheverria's Girl
John Larroquette
as X-Ray Technician
George Gaynes
as Dr. Wissenschaft
Ora Rubinstein
as Young Medical Studen...
Thaao Penghlis
as Echeverria
Paul Larsson
as Charlie Thomas
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Altered States

Critic Reviews for Altered States

All Critics (42) | Top Critics (6)

It opens at fever pitch and then starts soaring -- into genetic fantasy, into a precognitive dream of delirium and delight.

Full Review… | August 16, 2014
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Direction by Ken Russell has energy to spare, with appropriate match-up of his baroque visual style to special effects intensive material.

Full Review… | June 6, 2007
Top Critic

There isn't a lucid moment in it (and much of the dialogue is rendered unintelligible by Russell's subversive direction), but it has dash, style, and good looks, as well as the funniest curtain line since Some Like It Hot.

Full Review… | June 6, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

[Director] Russell's noisily grandiose swipe at psychedelia embellishes what is no more than the cosily familiar story of the obsessive Scientist Who Goes Too Far and Unwittingly Unleashes, etc.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

I was overwhelmed, I was caught up in its headlong energy.

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Dependably -- even exhilaratingly -- bizarre. Its strangeness, which borders cheerfully on the ridiculous, is its most enjoyable feature.

Full Review… | August 30, 2004
New York Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Altered States



Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

The 80s produced a lot of cheesy films. This was one of them. Well, the first half's pretty entertaining. Then, suddenly, "No one takes me seriously!" *turns into ape* Then, everything devolves into sheer stupidity and melodrama. But again, the hallucinations, dialogue, and everything in the beginning are entertaining up until that point. Then, I wonder if I'm watching the precursor to The Lawnmower Man.

Daniel J DeMersseman

Super Reviewer

I was a little overwhelmed with all the scientific mumbo-jumbo at first but once I got an idea of what was going on I found this to be a very interesting and surprisingly creepy experience. It's quite Cronenberg-esque and reminded me of "The Fly" in some ways. Great performance too by William Hurt in his debut and Dick Smith worked his grotesque magic with the special make-up effects. Give this one a watch!

Lee ?

Super Reviewer

Altered States Quotes

– Submitted by Victor M (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Victor M (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Victor M (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Victor M (2 years ago)

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