Rotten Tomatoes

Movies / TV

    Celebrity

      No Results Found

      View All
      Movies Tv shows Shop News Showtimes

      Altered States

      R Released Dec 25, 1980 1 hr. 43 min. Sci-Fi List
      86% 49 Reviews Tomatometer 71% 10,000+ Ratings Audience Score Respected scientist and psychology professor Edward Jessup (William Hurt) decides to combine his experiments in sensory deprivation tanks with powerful hallucinogenic drugs, convinced that it may help him unlock different states of consciousness. The experiments are a success at first, but as Jessup continues his work, he begins to experience altered mental and also physical states. As he spends more time in sensory deprivation, his grip on reality begins to slip away. Read More Read Less Watch on Fandango at Home Premiered May 01 Buy Now

      Where to Watch

      Altered States

      Fandango at Home Prime Video Apple TV

      Rent Altered States on Fandango at Home, Prime Video, Apple TV, or buy it on Fandango at Home, Prime Video, Apple TV.

      Altered States

      What to Know

      Critics Consensus

      Extraordinarily daring for a Hollywood film, Altered States attacks the viewer with its inventive, aggressive mix of muddled sound effects and visual pyrotechnics.

      Read Critics Reviews

      Audience Reviews

      View All (892) audience reviews
      KB B This was one of my favorite sci-fi flicks in the 80's due to a great plot and groundbreaking special fx. It's definitely worth the watch. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 02/01/24 Full Review elana k I went along on the trip and didn't regret it. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 04/27/23 Full Review Taylor L William Hurt explains to his wife how they have to break up so he can immerse himself in his work and be fulfilled as a scientist. Then the next time we see him at home he's banging grad students. I can only assume it's part of his research methodology. It's Ken Russell, so you know this movie is going to be a trip; Altered States is basically the opening scene of 2001: A Space Odyssey but seen through a psychedelic, transhumanist lens. Hurt's Eddie Jessup is a socially-limited academic experimenting with sensory deprivations and hallucinations, diving deeper into mental anguish to experience earlier stages of evolution and consciousness, eventually managing to experience the earliest stages of life itself. Intense psychedelia, visions of intensely lurid color and formative chemical reactions; the kind of self-reflection that destroys concepts of identity and transcends our notions of reality. And also, one time it turns him into a literal caveman and he runs around the city before eating a goat in the zoo. It's very creative and unlike most science fiction films of its era. Russell is well-known for his innovative and dense style, and uses it to great effect here, but I'm also not really blown away by anything that the film has to say thematically; exposure to unknown states of being basically just ends up turning Hurt's character into an early-2000s emo boy with his talk of "a darkness growing within me, even now." There's a strange combination of heady sci-fi and body horror combined with an almost Woody Allen-esque stream of academic, slightly comedic dialogue. It's certainly an interesting and unusual combination, but it feels just as often that the characters are just flapping their lips hoping they'll arrive at some meaning as it does that there was intent behind the events on the screen. I don't know why, but Hurt has always acted as if his face were made of stone, he keeps a neutral expression constantly even when there's fear or levity in his voice. As a result, he ended up cast in a lot of emotionally drained roles that earned him substantial acclaim, but it's hard to remember a time where he cracks a grin on camera. (3/5) Rated 3 out of 5 stars 10/29/22 Full Review william k Audacious sci-fi horror film deliciously goes way over the top with wildly imaginative, bizarre and exciting psychedelic scenes that seem to emulate a hallucinogenic trip; William Hurt's overheated performance fully fits the bill. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review Tony S I'll be honest, reading about the production of this movie was far more interesting, than actually watching it. Chayefsky's insistence on following his dialogue to a tee and Russell's clear distain for said dialogue, as he makes actors mumble scientific mumbo jumbo, or just act drunk while saying it. Makes way more sense in retrospective. This butting of heads, in my opinion did not hinder the movie. Because actors actually manage to make it seem natural and as Russell claims, everything characters said was straight from the script with zero revisions. So, somehow in the pursuit to make "80's mad scientist does an oopsie" we get a really misguided Chayefsky's externalist body horror. That is very competently shot, even if some hallucinations scene just don't hold up. And a great soundtrack. This movie also has a reputation of that "dmt Hollywood picture", which it isn't. But people who gobbled that stuff in college won't really take anything else from it anyway. In reality, this movie desperately yells its theme at you. That it is pointless to look for meaning of our existence and that soul searching won't lead to anything but an harmful obsession, no matter how many drugs you take. And in the end life is about, wouldn't you guess: Love and Family. And that's what it means to be human. And if I made fun of Interstellar for a Hathaway's corny and sappy power of love, that transcends time and space. I can't good faith not do the same for the ending of this film and not look like a hypocrite in my of eyes. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 02/10/22 Full Review Sameir A I have a special taste for weird film that gives a lot of hallucinations, surrealism etc. This film is one of them. But, apart from the elements, this is not a perfect picture. It lacks totality and looses pace towards the end. You can give it a try to see how they pulled out some visual effects during early 80's. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 12/04/21 Full Review Read all reviews Post a rating

      Cast & Crew

      Critics Reviews

      View All (49) Critics Reviews
      Richard Corliss TIME Magazine It opens at fever pitch and then starts soaring -- into genetic fantasy, into a precognitive dream of delirium and delight. Aug 16, 2014 Full Review Ian Nathan Empire Magazine It's got Russell's trademark eccentricity (read: slight bonkers-ness) all over it, which you may take as a warning or a recommendation. Rated: 3/5 Aug 16, 2014 Full Review Nick Schager Lessons of Darkness As the proceedings briskly fly, the silliness of the entire endeavor becomes more readily apparent. Rated: C+ Jul 23, 2010 Full Review David Nusair Reel Film Reviews ...a slow-moving yet predominantly compelling drama... Rated: 3/4 Mar 28, 2024 Full Review John Brosnan Starburst Altered States is a total cinematic experience that aims to work directly on the emotions but at the same time... it doesn't insult the intelligence while doing so. Jul 27, 2022 Full Review Jim Laczkowski Voices & Visions Altered States ignites some kind of fire that keeps the collective unconscious warm and the capacity for personal human inquiry ablaze. It's one of the best films that questions why we're here. Nov 4, 2021 Full Review Read all reviews

      Movie Info

      Synopsis Respected scientist and psychology professor Edward Jessup (William Hurt) decides to combine his experiments in sensory deprivation tanks with powerful hallucinogenic drugs, convinced that it may help him unlock different states of consciousness. The experiments are a success at first, but as Jessup continues his work, he begins to experience altered mental and also physical states. As he spends more time in sensory deprivation, his grip on reality begins to slip away.
      Director
      Ken Russell
      Executive Producer
      Daniel Melnick
      Screenwriter
      Paddy Chayefsky
      Distributor
      Warner Bros. Pictures
      Production Co
      Warner Bros.
      Rating
      R
      Genre
      Sci-Fi
      Original Language
      English
      Release Date (Theaters)
      Dec 25, 1980, Wide
      Release Date (Streaming)
      May 1, 2008
      Sound Mix
      Surround, Dolby
      Most Popular at Home Now