Altered States Reviews
Watched this on 23/5/16
Despite some excessive religious crap, Altered States is a sound sci-fi film coming from the otherwise silly list of 80s Hollywood sci-fi. The visual techniques in the final demonstration are simply mind blowing. The film is well paced, tensed and the huminoid scenes are far better than what The Fly could offer.
Ken Russell has always been known for movies out of the ordinary with added shock value, nudity and violence. By looking into the unexplored territory of the brain and how you can expand it with drugs and other means to have mental and physical experiences you simply can´t have otherwise is intriguing. I remember when "Altered States" came out, but I didn´t actually see it until last week, which is strange in many ways. The script was written by Paddy Chayefsky, based on his own novel which in return was partially based on the work of neuroscientist and dolphin researcher John Cunningham Lilly, who invented the isolation tank, and first started taking drugs while "tanking". Russell manages to create eerie and frightening vibes/visuals and with a superb William Hurt in the lead (his breakthrough role) the film has solid grounds. Yet, Russell ends up in some drug infused psycho babble that isn´t really coherent nor clear. The primal state of mind and Jessup´s sudden transformations makes you wonder what the hell is going on as Russell fails to deliver something that makes a bit more sense despite the fact that he is moving around in uncharted territories. I admit that there´s something interesting in "Altered States", but there´s too many things that needs more meat on the bones to satisfy me at least. Trivia: The film's box office failure and Ken Russell's onset behaviour, including a row with Paddy Chayefsky led to the director becoming a virtual pariah in Hollywood.
That being said, this movie was so freaking good. One of my new all time favorites I think. The special effects were seriously incredible, especially for the year it was made, and the imagery blends a schizophrenic and bizarre combination of both religious horror with far out surrealism in the vein of the works of Dali.
This movie is also quite multifaceted, being mainly a psychological horror drama, along with a healthy and well done dosage of monster movie, capped off with surrealist, cosmic mind entropy. Yeah, that's a genre of film, I just laid that shit down, and I'm sure if you watch this movie too would agree with me as to the validity of that description.
Anyways just watch this if you wanna trip out hardcore, no drugs required.