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Altered States [Blu-ray]

4.1 out of 5 stars 231 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Altered States (BD)

Academy Award-winner and Golden Globe-nominee William Hurt ("Syriana," "The Village"), Emmy and Golden Globe-nominee Blair Brown ("Dogville," "Space Cowboys"), Emmy-nominee and Golden Globe-winner Drew Barrymore ("Charlie's Angels," "50 First Dates") and Emmy-nominee Charles Haid (TV's "Third Watch," "Hill Street Blues") star in this terror spectacle by visual wizard Ken Russell about a research scientist whose experiments unlock the horrors of his mind. Written by Academy Award-winner Paddy Chayefsky ("Network").



It's easy to understand why the late, great screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky removed his name from the credits of Altered States and substituted the pseudonym Sidney Aaron. After all, Chayefsky was a revered dramatist whose original source novel was intended as a serious exploration of altered consciousness, inspired by the immersion-tank experiments of Dr. John Lilly in the 1970s. In the hands of maverick director Ken Russell, however, Altered States became a full-on sensory assault, using symbolic imagery and mind- blowing special effects to depict one man's physical and hallucinatory journey through the entire history of human evolution. It's a brazenly silly film redeemed by its intellectual ambition--a dazzling extravaganza that's in love with science and scientists, and eagerly willing to dive off the precipice of rationality to explore uncharted regions of mind, body, and spirit. William Hurt made his bold film debut as the psycho-physiologist who plays guinea pig to his own experiments; Blair Brown plays his equally brilliant wife, whose devotion is just strong enough to bring him back from the most altered state imaginable. From the eternal channels of sense memory to the restorative power of a loving embrace, this movie rocks you to the birth of the universe and back again. And while it's clearly not the story that Chayefsky wanted on the screen, the directorial audacity of Ken Russell makes it one heck of a memorable trip. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: William Hurt, Blair Brown, Bob Balaban, Charles Haid, Dori Brenner
  • Directors: Ken Russell
  • Writers: Sidney Aaron
  • Producers: Howard Gottfried, Daniel Melnick
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: July 10, 2012
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (231 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B007NQCKL6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,208 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By S. H. Towsley on December 23, 2000
Format: DVD
A sci-fi favorite of mine, this Academy Award winning film had fallen into obscurity on the video shelves, but is now back with all its original impact in a sharp, well-colored remaster with a brilliant digital 5.1 rendering of the Oscar-winning soundtrack. Ken Russell directs one of his more accessible films (compared to, say, THE DEVILS) based on the novel by Paddy Chayefsky, who, in a move remeniscent of Stephen King on THE SHINING, had his name taken off this movie because he didn't like the director's interpretation of his subject matter.
The film boasts a high-quality cast of young actors from William Hurt in his major film debut to John LaRocquette in the small role of an X-ray technician. Whoever cast this knew whom to select from the period's roster of young talent. Charles Haid, frankly, has never been more impressive as the fast-talking and brilliant skeptic and Bob Balaban is outstanding and self-assured in the role of the supportive friend who forgives Hurt his eccentricities but worries that he may be going crazy. Blair Brown is sexy and appealing and frequently nude as Hurt's just-as-brainy wife anthropologist, and one of the most interesting aspects of this movie is the dialog between these two intellects from the moment they first begin their sizzling sexual liason through their matter-of-fact decision to marry, then divorce, then finally redeem their relationship -- while nearly losing Hurt's character to his high-risk experiments.
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Format: DVD
This movie is one of the great movies ever made. The visual and auditory effects are amazing. John Corigliano's score to this movie brings out many of the ideas set forth here.
HOWEVER, the transfer to DVD nearly ruined it for me. The quality of the picture was fine, but they neglected to sync the sound with the picture. Sound effects and talking are at times about one-half of one second off. This I find inexcusable.
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Format: DVD
"Altered States" written by the gifted Paddy Chayevsky and utilizing the unique directorial talents of Ken Russell is a staggering piece of film making. Russell's use of incredible psychedelic graphic imagery is unparalleled in cinematic history.

William Hurt is his inaugural starring role portrays Eddie Jessup a brilliant Harvard research physiologist who is conducting unprecedented experiments using himself as a guinea pig. Hurt had been introduced to mushroom based hallucinogenic drugs by a tribe of primitive Indians in Mexico courtesy of an expedition with a university colleague. Using these drugs in combination with sensory deprivation in an isolation tank he records astonishing findings much to the disbelief of his colleagues including his wife Emily, a physical anthropologist played by Blair Brown.

Hurt apparently undergoes a genetic reconfiguration and morphs into an altered state of primitive consciousness to become a simian ape man. In one segment of the film, he startlingly emerges from his isolation tank as this ape-man and goes running wild through the bowels of a Boston hospital, out onto the street and winds up in the zoo. He climbs into an enclosure kills a sheep and then devours it. He is subsequently discovered by the police, having transformed back to his human form, in the cage lying next to a bloody carcass.

Wife Brown, endocrinologist friend Dr. Mason Parrish played by Charles Haid and partner in the experiment Arthur Rosenberg played by Bob Balaban are stunned but allow him to redo his experiment under their supervision. The ensuing segment of the film depicting the creation of life, while preposterous, rivals only the graphic effects of Kubrick's phenomenal "2001".

Not having seen this one of a kind film for 25 years, it still had the same stupefying effect as it did when I experienced it the first time.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
If there is such a thing as genetic memory, than all the phases of human evolution must lie somewhere in our genetic code. What if there was a way we could tap into that stream of information through consciousness? What would we see? What would we learn? Professor Eddie Jessup (William Hurt in his debut role) is intrigued by the data being produced by the use of isolation tanks to induce altered states of consciousness, and decides to undergo the experience himself. What he discovers at first is the ability to relive with total clarity experiences of his childhood. As he continues these experiments, his visions become more acute and filled with religious illusions. Years go by and Jessup has become sedated with the trappings of academia, leaving him unfulfilled and longing for the good old days of experimentation and wonder. He visits a tribe of Mexican Indians that use a hallucinatory drug to evokes a common experience in all users and has the trip of his life! What might he learn inside an isolation tank while being under the influence of this drug? Would he be able to peel away the layers of evolutionary time back to early man and beyond? Perhaps even back to the first thought? His scientific curiosity will not let him resist this challenge. With Ken Russell's visuals and the incredible musical effects of John Corigliano, this film can be absolutely exhilarating.
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