Altered States
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In this 1980 sci-fi horror film, William Hurt plays Eddie Jessup, a scientist obsessed with discovering mankind's true role in the universe. To this end, he submits himself to a series of mind-expanding experiments. By enclosing himself in a sensory-deprivation chamber and taking hallucinogenic drugs, Jessup hopes to explore different levels of human consciousness, but instead is devolved into an apelike monster. Director Ken Russell helmed Altered States from a script by Paddy Chayefsky, who adapted his own novel of the same name. Unhappy with the finished product, Chayefsky had his name… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Direction by Ken Russell has energy to spare, with appropriate match-up of his baroque visual style to special effects intensive material."
‑ Variety Staff, Variety
"I was overwhelmed, I was caught up in its headlong energy."
‑ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"The film's too aggressively enjoyable to be completely dismissed, though the ending is risible -- I preferred it when this finale was later reconfigured and reused in a-ha's music video for "Take On Me.""
‑ Matt Brunson, Creative Loafing
"Visually dazzling loopy drug film."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"Though deviating from Paddy Chayefsky's script (and novel), the reliably flamboyant Ken Russell made a spooky but engaging psycho-horror film about experimentation with human consciousness that deservedly received Oscar nods for sound and music."
‑ Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com
"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."
‑ Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"Dependably -- even exhilaratingly -- bizarre. Its strangeness, which borders cheerfully on the ridiculous, is its most enjoyable feature."
‑ Janet Maslin, New York Times
"Think of it as an extravagant and exhilarating, if over-the-top, piece of filmmaking that's silly, to be sure, but engrossing at the same time."
‑ John J. Puccio, Movie Metropolis
"[Director Russell] fails to bring any clarity to the silly affair."
‑ , TV Guide's Movie Guide
‑ Jon Niccum, Lawrence Journal-World
"[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."
‑ Geoff Andrew, Time Out
"Dynamite stylistic flourishes approximate the experience of taking mescaline with the Mad Hatter."
‑ Simon Miraudo, Quickflix
"As the proceedings briskly fly, the silliness of the entire endeavor becomes more readily apparent."
‑ Nick Schager, Lessons of Darkness
"William Hurt at his weirdest"
‑ Lori Hoffman, Atlantic City Weekly
"Very intense, very inner self, very self absorbed."
‑ Steve Crum, Kansas City Kansan
More reviews for Altered States on Rotten Tomatoes