Saturday, October 2, 2010

31 Days of Halloween: Altered States

1980's Altered States could be called the most Cronenbergian movie not directed by David Cronenberg.  I'd be surprised if Cronenberg's 80's sci-fi/horror mash-ups (The Fly, Videodrome, Scanners) weren't in some way influenced by Ken Russell's eerie tale of mad science and sensory deprivation.  William Hurt stars in his first feature as Eddie Jessup, a Harvard doctor whose experiments with mind altering substances and dark chambers bring about a mental, physical, evolutionary break-down.  What Altered States lacks in terror it makes up for with uncomfortable atmosphere and thoroughly warped hallucination sequences.  Our temperamental protagonist seems to be drinking the Jodorowsky kool-aid and sinking into a wild netherworld of religious iconography, satanic symbolism, scientific imagery, and sex.  Those sequences alone make Altered States worth a spot on any celebration of the weirdest and most wonderful time of the year.

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