Altered States at a quick glance is an incredibly entertaining sci-fi horror. On a closer examination, it’s really a genius film that is designed to really push the viewers limits in terms of abstract, existential thought.
The movie really takes you in gently and I very much felt a part of Dr. Jessup’s experiment. As things progress we begin to see how Jessup is regressing genetically and my thought process remained in wonder. I was enthralled with how far this experiment could be taken and the film really almost had a sci-fi fantasy psychedelic vibe at that point.
All of the sudden things speed up abruptly and you almost get whiplash trying to catch up to it. It’s a fantastic method of cranking up the thriller aspect and we get to see truly how far they can take this movie. The drug induced scenes are just insane medleys of imagery and special effects. Despite being depictions of a trip, I do not recommend watching this while tripping.
The ending is really beautiful and reassuring while also being mind numbingly dark. It’s a classic Hollywood veil thrown over what’s truly a dystopian revelation.
On a side note, I reviewed Rob Zombie’s Lords of Salem which led me to this after someone said Zombie ripped off the Altered States trip montage scenes. I can say almost for a fact that Zombie was paying direct homage and it would have been successful if he toned down the demons jerking off bright red dildos.
All in all, this movie often skates the line between brilliance and ridiculousness but it works on both fronts. At the very least, I believe you’ll find it entertaining.