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

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Movie Info

Respected scientist and psychology professor Edward Jessup (William Hurt) decides to combine his experiments in sensory deprivation tanks with powerful hallucinogenic drugs, convinced that it may help him unlock different states of consciousness. The experiments are a success at first, but as Jessup continues his work, he begins to experience altered mental and also physical states. As he spends more time in sensory deprivation, his grip on reality begins to slip away.

Cast & Crew

William Hurt
Professor Eddie Jessup
Blair Brown
Emily Jessup
Bob Balaban
Arthur Rosenberg
Charles Haid
Mason Parrish
Thaao Penghlis
Prof. Eduardo Eccheverria
Dori Brenner
Sylvia Rosenberg
Peter Brandon
Alan Hobart
Drew Barrymore
Margaret Jessup
Paddy Chayefsky
Writer (Novel)
Daniel Melnick
Executive Producer
John Corigliano
Original Music
Jordan Cronenweth
Cinematographer
Eric Jenkins
Film Editor
Stuart Baird
Associate Producer
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News & Interviews for Altered States

Critic Reviews for Altered States

All Critics (46) | Top Critics (9) | Fresh (39) | Rotten (7)

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

    August 16, 2014 | Full Review…
  • It's got Russell's trademark eccentricity (read: slight bonkers-ness) all over it, which you may take as a warning or a recommendation.

    August 16, 2014 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • As the proceedings briskly fly, the silliness of the entire endeavor becomes more readily apparent.

    July 23, 2010 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…
  • Direction by Ken Russell has energy to spare, with appropriate match-up of his baroque visual style to special effects intensive material.

    June 6, 2007 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    June 6, 2007 | Full Review…
  • [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.

    June 24, 2006 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Altered States

  • Sep 27, 2015
    Altered States is a fun watch. It is at times crazy, (unintentionally?) silly, melodramatic, and serious. William Hurt makes for an interesting mad scientist. Also, the film features some bits of the horror/grotesque movie magic characteristic of 80s films. Altered States is not a heavy film but it is a fun one.
    Robert B Super Reviewer
  • Mar 01, 2014
    [img]http://images.rottentomatoes.com/images/user/icons/icon14.gif[/img]
    Directors C Super Reviewer
  • Apr 12, 2012
    A brilliantly well executed sci-fi drama, reminiscent of Cronenberg's most memorable works with the added value of some of the most striking effects/audio sequences I recall seeing in any movie. LSD trip can't be too far from this. Also, the story is the classic one of a scientist exploring what he shouldn't with daring consequences. Nothing on the dramas presented (problems with the colleagues tired of warning him, lost loves/family, etc.) but everything is so confident on it's execution and acting, it's hard not to care for what happens to these people. I feel it gets a bit lost towards the end on some of the most memorable sequences which don't add anything particulary relevant, but what you have is still class.
    Francisco G Super Reviewer
  • Feb 25, 2012
    There is one absolutely ridiculous and cheesy sequence involving a poorly made-up caveman, but otherwise Altered States is a fairly engaging visual spectacle with a handful of mesmerizing psychedelic hallucination scenes. Worth seeing for the intense special effects sequences.
    Joey S Super Reviewer

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