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Altered States

Altered States

1980
Drama
Sci-fi
1h 42m
A Harvard scientist conducts experiments on himself with a hallucinatory drug and an isolation chamber that may be causing him to regress genetically. (imdb)
Your probable score
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Altered States

1980
Drama
Sci-fi
1h 42m
Your probable score
Avg Percentile 51.83% from 1369 total ratings

Ratings & Reviews

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Rated 31 Oct 2018
68
55th
May be the first movie I've seen with a were-anderthal. The "may be" part of that sentence is worrying.
Rated 04 Feb 2011
53
17th
The Fly fo the simian audience...I hated it, but I must admit that the mexican mountain tripping and the primordial soup scenes are quite innovative; hence a rating above 50. But, man, it was really unnerving to watch it as a scientist; not only all the scientists are madly stereotypical but also they act in the utmost possible ridiculous manner! It was so full of pretentious mumbo jumbo that I think I have a permanent frown now.
Rated 03 Jun 2017
45
34th
A scientist meets a great woman, but his obsessive if not grandiose quest for knowledge leads to physiological and psychological changes that threaten to destroy the relationship: in short, a blueprint for THE FLY, but here the surrealism's far wilder and the ending far weaker. Despite what one may be inclined to think, how credit or blame should be apportioned between writer and director remains rather unclear: apparently Chayefsky's contract stipulated that the script could not be altered.
Rated 16 Nov 2007
60
32nd
Tries to be both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and 2001: A Space Odyssey, and in trying, the film fails to reach either goal.
Rated 12 May 2012
55
44th
I found a lot to like about Altered States, and that rather highlights my disappointment. Hurt is wonderful, there are some very neat hallucination and psychedelic sequences, and the dialogue is respectable at first even when conjuring scientific lingo. The first half is foreboding and fascinating. Then it gets a bit ridiculous, loses credibility and ends on a really cheap "romantic" note.
Rated 06 Nov 2012
42
21st
I was lead to believe this would be a "Holy Mountain-esque bizarre imagery/bad acid trip" type of deal. Imagine my disappointment when William Hurt becomes a primate and runs around a city. Still, there is some interesting and thought provoking stuff in here and the Religion hallucination sequence is something I'll never forget.
Rated 24 Sep 2009
66
44th
The first part is a decent metaphysical pscychodrama, the next part is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and the rest is, well, the end of Akira. While the first and last parts work together, the middle one does not, and the film feels disjointed. I want to know what the filmmakers thought while filming the zoo scene, which is one of the shittiest scenes in a decent film, ever.
Rated 29 Sep 2008
30
17th
The author Paddy Chayevsky had his name removed from the credits after seeing it. nuff said
Rated 28 Jan 2007
80
84th
Balls to the wall acid trip flick about a scientist dabbling with expansion of the conscious mind by experimenting with psychedelic drugs and sensory deprivation. The last half hour is a total mindfuck as reality falls apart and William Hurt morphs into a giant ape creature.
Rated 10 Mar 2013
88
88th
I don't know many semi-blockbuster films that deal so primarily with psychedelic substances (not to mention portray hallucinatory experiences with little cliche and brash originality) -- even when the film gets silly and groovy with very cool '80s visual effects, it doesn't quite lose track. Although the ending is a bit lost on me and not everything quite comes together ultimately, this is still an accomplished sci-fi treat that combines the seriousness and fun of the genre so well.
Rated 12 Jul 2008
55
24th
Unintentionally hilarious in parts.
Rated 28 Sep 2015
60
39th
Psychedelic search for meaning in a life which is dominated by positive sciences' empirical data. I think it's important that this movie was made in 1980 when the search for a metaphysical truth or salvation of 70's was defeated by the coming forces of neoliberalism. Even though the experimental hallucination scenes and the overall tone is interesting the plot is so dull and one-dimensional that it ends up being a boring fantasy.
Rated 14 Mar 2010
46
28th
Intentional or not this plays out like an idiotic and overlong justification to get really God damn high. Maybe in the post-1970's when the concept of the psychonaut still had a glimpse of scientific credibility this might have been interesting but nowadays the thought of someone getting so high they are able to physically change their physical being is simply laughable to me. No, you're not in a new state of consciousness, you're staring at a wall. Still, it's got some cool imagery.
Rated 23 Oct 2009
60
65th
Gets overblown minute by minute but at least visually a rarity.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
33
3rd
Very ridiculous. Hard to believe it was written by the same guy who did Network. Well, there were some good lines, but Blair Brown is no Faye Dunaway (and William Hurt is no Peter Finch). Terrible attempts to copy the 2001 visuals.
Rated 11 Nov 2009
40
71st
The traditional mad scientist dressed up in new clothes, or rather, divested of his clothes and floating naked in an isolation tank. That's just for starters. It's quite nice the way the metaphysical odyssey of this so-called "Faust freak" keeps expanding into new territory, moving through a Dr. Leary psychedelic phase to a Dr. Jekyll metamorphic phase (clever use of a video screen, at one point, to effect the transformation), and well beyond that, to terra incognita and very much infirma.
Rated 01 Sep 2014
73
38th
That final trip sequence is up there with 2001, but god that ape man stuff is just stupid, ain't it.
Rated 06 Mar 2018
90
75th
The unconscious protruding into the reality in the form of a momentary high speed mutation. Cronenberg and Lynch are not far, but the film commits a mortal sin at one point putting on screen, in all its fakeness, nothing less that a character from the Planet of Apes. The change is so abrupt that if you were watching it on tv, you would think someone accidentally sat on the remote control. It then repents and becomes great again offering the incredibly surreal scene in the tank room.
Rated 19 Nov 2018
70
58th
There is plenty going on here, and I'm not sure how much of it I fully understood; I really enjoyed it, but may be at a loss to fully explain why. Some wild visuals, dated-looking but effective nonetheless, and moments of body-horror intersect some oddly interesting dramatic scenes. The cast handles the material well, even if many moments stretch credibility somewhat. I think you'd have to be in the mood (or wasted) to truly appreciate this, but it is well worth a look.
Rated 25 Oct 2010
62
29th
The steamy Hurt/Brown relationship delivers all the emotional impact of reading the ingredients off a Maalox package. Besides that, Ken Russell really needs to update his stock crucifixion cd's(see also "Lair of the White Worm"). Finally, according to the "science" at work here, our human genetic-coding can be traced back to a land of Stay Puff marshmallow human/hybrids. Sigh.
Rated 11 Apr 2011
81
64th
Definitely a strange film, but the visual style is fantastic and despite the craziness it is a pretty straightforward exploration of identity with an offbeat romance.
Rated 31 Aug 2010
70
31st
The trip sequences are pretty crazy, but as a whole the film plays much too straight, failing to really say anything about human consciousness.
Rated 23 Apr 2018
40
15th
Visually not bad but as a story it's basically the opposite of what I like in cinema.
Rated 18 Nov 2007
40
16th
Badly dated today, this film was probably already slightly dated by the time it came out, as it was a reflection on the drug culture that had actually flourished several years to a decade earlier. Still, it made an impression when it arrived and even as a kid I recall there being two camps of people; those who had and hadn't seen this film. Worth seeing for film buffs and cultural historians, but probably not a good selection for the masses anymore.
Rated 15 Jul 2012
87
87th
A great trip
Rated 03 Jun 2011
80
70th
Despite the structure of the story is a bit odd this really has it's moments of true fucking awesomeness. Especially towards the end.
Rated 03 Dec 2009
67
35th
Cool concept, but the execution is uneven. The trip sequences are actually pretty well done, a bit funny sometimes, but still intriguing. The physical transformation scenes feel cheesy and forced. The personal drama between Hurt and his wife is similarly bland and unconvincing. It's definitely an interesting watch, but at times it feels dated.
Rated 01 Nov 2020
90
85th
An absolute banger of a movie. The hallucination sequences are legitimately amazing stuff. The actual slasher/monster sequences are incredibly corny but a really fun turn from the nightmarish first half. Really weird movie that has to be seen at night with the sound up.
Rated 26 Jun 2008
70
49th
I don't understand why Ken Russell would go to great pains to rush through dialogue by one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. It's campy enough to recommend.
Rated 11 Nov 2007
70
33rd
The screenplay makes this almost good. Paddy Chayefsky was brilliant and you can tell what he wanted this film to be. He based the screenplay on his novel, and, due to his theater background, had full control. Ken Russell could not change any of the lines. Instead, he directed them strangely and added very weird over the top visuals. In some cases they're effective, but overall, I say see Network or The Hospital. Or read the novel. (Apparently Chayefsky wrote a scathing multi-page letter to Ken
Rated 22 Sep 2010
67
57th
Bizarre sci-fi/horror film. I think I need to re-watch it as I remember it becoming increasingly erratic.
Rated 14 Feb 2015
72
56th
Vigorous sensory experience with very interesting ideas although it treads along the knife edge of ludicrousness (manages to get away with it cause of the overall pulpy flavour). The emotional side really failed to engage me but other than that it's a full on cinematic assault and the trip sequences are really good.
Rated 29 May 2008
83
83rd
Original, and pretty damn unnerving. William Hurt was pretty good, but the plot is the best part here.
Rated 23 Jan 2014
50
16th
It came down to either Altered States or Vertigo for tonight's movie, and Altered States won. There has never been a worse decision.
Rated 19 Mar 2017
62
26th
Altered States begins with too much philosophical BS IMO, the middle picks up steam with the trips and experiments, and it ends unsatisfactorily. There's some nice shots here and I tend to like William Hurt, but most of this is nothing more than middling. The science isn't very smart either.
Rated 11 Sep 2007
60
19th
One seriously fucked up film. I had read the book before seeing the movie, and wonder if director had ever read the book. Completely different feel. I believe this would only make sense while high.
Rated 20 Feb 2015
76
54th
Jesus! Every single one of those scientists was annoying as hell! They talked all this nonsense (well, more or less) and shouted and ran and just drove me nuts! But this was a pretty good ride, like Cronenberg on shrooms.
Rated 10 Dec 2010
58
12th
The first act is good, and there are some great psychedelic sequences, but this just gets more and more hysterical by the minute. Everyone except for Hurt overacts to the point of irritation. It wants to be the 2001 of drugs; it is not.
Rated 16 Jul 2014
70
51st
I went into this cold and was not on board with the turn to horror. Russell, however, believes in the material every step of the way; despite its flaws, it's hard not to be taken in right until what feels like a premature ending. All the psychedelic effects sequences are knockouts, and the story, while not especially deep or cerebral, aspires to be more than just an excuse to showcase them. The cast do a good job rendering the script's appealing angst. It's a trippy film for the devoutly sober.
Rated 24 Oct 2021
65
45th
The most interesting aspect of this for me was the dynamic between Eddie & Emily, how it explores the way we can hopelessly devote ourselves to someone who will never love us back in quite the same way, but it's easier to just live with that pain than try to fill the void with someone else. I really felt for Emily, & wished she was a more consistent presence. The story beyond that went a bit over my head to be honest, but there's enough fun stuff like the zoo scene to make for a decent watch.
Rated 10 Oct 2008
68
36th
Tries to be both horror and psychedelic and kinda fails in both areas although there are some nice, trippy scenes.
Rated 29 Sep 2017
78
61st
While perhaps disjointed at times, this film is an interesting look into the human mind. It makes the viewer think about things that are larger than themselves and Ken Russell achieves this all through religion-inspired symbolic imagery. All of this is only enhanced by William Hurt's gripping performance, bringing a new life to the already riveting film.
Rated 20 Feb 2018
70
58th
This kind of incessant abstraction and pontificating would normally piss me off, but it doesn't feel like lazy exposition at all. It lends a frenetic energy and agitation to the whole film (despite most of the 'action' centring around sensory deprivation tanks). Some of the VFX hasn't aged well (obvious comparisons to 2001: A Space Odyssey), but it's still great.
Rated 22 Jun 2009
75
63rd
I keep changing the score on this movie to make it higher and higher because my memory of it is gets significantly shuffled around between the concept, expectation, and actual experience of watching its execution.
Rated 05 Jun 2012
6
19th
The science is a load of sketchy babble at best, but Russell's crazy dream sequences and grotesquerie make it worth seeing.
Rated 17 Jul 2013
60
68th
It's hard to imagine Warner Brothers releasing a film like this today. Sort of like a mixture of Cronenberg's The Fly (which made some years later and seems to draw influences from here) and Kubrick's 2001 with religious symbolism and mushrooms thrown into the mix. Russell's editing style jumps quickly from time and space to another which keeps things interesting but also undermines scenes towards the end as things seem to progress too quickly. Hurt does a fine job.
Rated 21 Oct 2020
40
15th
Neil DeGrasse Tyson-core science gibberish dialogue is unbearable, and good lord did this have a lot of that. The actual hallucination scenes look pretty great though.
Rated 20 May 2020
80
56th
I can't really explain what i just experienced but I was kinda transformed too.
Rated 28 Jul 2009
84
50th
Very entertaining, but perhaps a little too much goofy excess.
Rated 16 May 2010
62
29th
Jacob's Ladder without the edge and madness.
Rated 29 Mar 2014
63
17th
It started off so interesting..
Rated 23 Oct 2021
59
61st
Frustrating because I was ready to embrace this as a cult favorite based on the first 2/3rds, but as others have said when it gets to the point of a little furry primate running around snarling at stray dogs (and then some Tron-style computer graphics thrown in at random) it hits a wall. Also the emotional core of the film rests on the relationship between Hurt and Brown, which I didn't buy evolving into true love by the end. Still worth watching for the visuals, even if it's a 2001 imitation.
Rated 17 Jul 2017
85
59th
Viewed July 16, 2017.
Rated 22 Nov 2012
66
47th
An interesting original story that over-extends a bit, but is a fun watch
Rated 25 Jan 2012
43
34th
A bunch of chatter boxes! It did not work as a love story, it did not work as a sci-fi flick. There was also some fantasy elements, but even as the acid trip it was lame. It blew my mind some thirty years ago, but now it's just shattered images. And Drew Barrymore's got even some lines. When there was no trip on the directing was solid, and I liked the semi-morfed William Hurt.
Rated 18 Apr 2018
2
10th
Nah
Rated 03 May 2010
54
19th
Kind of trash, but I would say you can watch it if lack anything better to do at the moment.
Rated 04 Mar 2021
43
73rd
A wild film that hits particularly close to home for me. Some point out that Hurt and his wife don't have much chemistry. I would argue that this film is successfully showing the dynamic between an obsessive, somewhat inhuman scientist (similar to Cronenberg's work) and the non-material world. As a science grad, I'm always happy to see a movie that has a proper understanding of the pitfalls of a materialist, scientific mindset. Altered States is a great example.
Rated 11 Mar 2012
80
42nd
Weird but a lot of fun, with an over-the-top performance from Hurt.
Rated 26 Oct 2007
50
29th
Entertaining.
Rated 29 Jun 2013
41
17th
Intelligent script, probably a bit science heavy at times for the casual movie-goer. It's easy to assume this film is riding the back of 60/70's drug culture & attempted to add some form of legitimacy to the existential cliché surrounding the recreational use of psychoactives. Not sure the film knew what it was implying about the tribes folk that had been drinking that stuff for years. Which brings me to how awful & extended the ape sequence was. Overall, probably a better read than a movie.
Rated 31 Jan 2021
82
66th
EEG from the 80s, sensory deprivation tanks, psychedelic drugs and a cartoonish depiction of academic life. If you work in neuroscience, you have to watch this movie.
Rated 19 Feb 2024
85
94th
Gloriously deranged, schlocky psychedelia.
Rated 27 Mar 2009
82
29th
saw it too long ago to get into any specifics, however, it was a wild ride for sure and i have no qualms about giving it a hearty thumbs up!
Rated 15 Aug 2007
65
26th
Too many 'shrooms, man. but William Hurt excels, as usual.
Rated 30 Mar 2007
90
86th
Groovy weirdness from Ken Russell
Rated 01 Aug 2022
79
81st
An imaginative and campy piece of moviemaking. Except for Haid (SO annoying as the doctor/skeptic), the cast is good. William Hurt is at his most beautiful, getting through, (relatively) unscathed, practically undeliverable lines--Paddy Chayefsky should NEVER be allowed to write dialogue. Pauline Kael: "Russell uses a lot of tricks to spare you the misery of hearing the words declaimed straight, but no matter how hopped up the delivery is, you can't help feeling that you're in a lecture hall."
Rated 06 Oct 2022
75
65th
Ilikethephilosophicalwritingandhispersonalconnection+nativedrugs+drugintank-thinksregressedtoancienthumanlol+x-raysagreelol+morphs+heliketurnshermoltenlol-hugsherout-canfinallysaylovesher+woahididntnoticedrewbarrymorelol
Rated 03 Aug 2010
55
37th
Interesting, sure. Enjoyable? Not so much.
Rated 09 Oct 2008
87
58th
Pretty wild flick with two great performances from William Hurt and Blair Brown. Gets a bit silly in the last act.
Rated 09 Jul 2012
15
16th
What a piece of crap.
Rated 28 Dec 2010
70
40th
Without having had one myself, I would imagine that this is what it's like to have a bad drug trip. Interesting concept and a quite frightening movie at times.
Rated 20 Mar 2024
75
66th
Packs a ton of fun, trippy visuals with exceptional editing. Lots of interesting and compelling ideas and a good sense of intrigue throughout the first 2/3, but the third act started to lose me a little once the big "reveal" was out of the way. It seemed to take the least interesting of all the potential ways the story could have gone and ended up feeling like an elevated version of a cheesy B-movie for a little while, but then the climax and denouement were strong and won me back over
Rated 26 Sep 2008
72
39th
One helluva tripped out sequence does not save this movie's general mediocrity.
Rated 02 Mar 2009
71
73rd
This wacked-out variation of the Chayefsky novel (he requested his screenplay credit be supplanted with the fictitious "Sidney Aaron") plays like a remake of the '50s chiller _Monster on the Campus_ on LSD. Dick Smith's incredible makeup and Russell's fancy visuals help redeem cold performances and an over-reliance on verbose, pseudo-scientific dialogue. Look for "Night Court"'s John Larroquette.
Rated 04 Feb 2019
4
70th
A bizarre blend of Tarkovsky, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Fly, and Hellraiser. Chayefsky's mumbo-jumbo is given enough attention to take seriously, but undercut just the right amount by the arthouse fuckery to give it an appropriately entertaining freaky camp edge. I only wish it hadn't sold out the ending for something so mushy and soft.
Rated 20 Jun 2012
65
22nd
Interesting film, but I think somewhat dated both thematically and in execution
Rated 22 Jul 2010
70
7th
interesting story, however it appeared to be a surreal sci fi story, but near the end it turned into a generic horror film, it was entertaining but it wasn't that great
Rated 12 Aug 2010
20
2nd
Bored me to tears although Hurt did a decent job. Can't really recommend it.
Rated 16 Aug 2012
27
10th
Pretty stupid most of the time, shit actually but there's some cool hallucination scenes but some of it is awfully dated. I was expecting more of a meditative mindfuck through drug experimentation but got something more of a romantic drama fucked up by some phenomenologically created gorilla.
Rated 24 Oct 2015
100
0th
"This is actual film history, not bullshit theories about Camp by schoolteachers." http://illusionpodcast.blogspot.com/2015/04/episode-54-paddy-chayefskys-dilemma.html
Rated 17 Feb 2007
60
62nd
Great film.
Rated 09 Aug 2013
54
42nd
it manages to tell the doctor's story somewhat faithfully, but all the other characters are merely plot devices, and the plot itself is overblown and dated. overacted and also, if you're out to scar people, it's funny that you can't show boobs or dicks
Rated 23 Jun 2012
75
55th
74.750
Rated 17 Nov 2011
40
35th
Chayefsky disowned this, so yeah...
Rated 09 Jul 2007
3
61st
Some of the dialogue sounds really unnatural. Still a lot of cool looking stuff to keep me interested. The scene at the zoo still cracks me up.
Rated 12 Sep 2023
90
87th
Russell of course delivers a full array of wild, hallucinatory visuals, but it's ultimately not a drug film ... or a film that needs you to believe even a word about drugs and isolation tanks allowing one to tap into some kind of ridiculous universal consciousness. I think it's a masterpiece and would not have been one in the hands of someone who slavishly delivered the screenplay on film.
Rated 21 Jun 2008
82
81st
Delightfully off-kilter Russell fare. Loud, pretentious and engaging. If you feel like some sci-fi while a swarthy slave feeds you grapes, then this is what you're looking for.
Rated 02 Oct 2013
60
38th
worth it for all the surreal imagery and hurt's performance is good. the rest is drab.
Rated 08 Apr 2016
6
10th
Freaky trippy movie. Didn't have much to say and didnt make much sense when it did. Probably good to watch while high.
Rated 27 Sep 2012
33
22nd
I'm sure it would be good if you're tripping, but I wasn't
Rated 04 Dec 2008
58
13th
The ending is just plain moronic. The first half is alright, but there's one distinct moment, and you'll know it when you see it, where the film just goes way too overboard. The acting is also a bit too over the top to the point where all of the characters annoyed me.
Rated 14 Mar 2024
85
85th
Mindbending and original, Altered States feels like an unpredictable fever dream. Great editing, sound, and visuals. Feels a bit like Cronenberg, but is very much its own thing.
Rated 28 Dec 2008
89
92nd
One of the best sci-fi movies.
Rated 04 Jul 2014
50
67th
Once again, Russell's boldness and enthusiasm had a warm intelligence that drew me in right from the start-- actually, I thought a lot of this was fucking great-- but this time he just could not pull this off, with a shit ending.. I guess -biologically devolved- William Hurt running around naked was kind of funny, at least...
Rated 16 Sep 2007
75
79th
eerie and effective with a strong turn by Hurt.

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