Altered States (1980)

Ken Russell directs William Hurt, Blair Brown and Bob Balaban in this sci-fi headfuck where a committed scientist spends decades of his life in isolation tanks and on psychotropics exploring the far reaches of his mind and shifting his own evolutionary process.

The trip montages are ludicrous yet dazzling rollercoasters of surreality. Everything else is a bit dull and dry or worse yet camp. The film descends into a ropey precursor for Cronenberg’s The Fly. It might have got there first but it certainly doesn’t break the same ground effectively. Blair Brown catches the eye in a thankless role.


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