John's Horror Banana-nanza Episode Fourteen: Altered States

Now that's a Halloween mask!
Now that's a Halloween mask!

So while stumbling around near Halloween in my favorite used DVD store, I came across this film, of which I'd never heard of before. It showed a picture of a man with wires attached to his face, and said something about an experiment going on in a basement. I thought, "Hmm...a rip-off of 'The Fly' ?"

Not quite.

This movie, directed by Ken Russell, who also did The Who's "Tommy", starts off with the lead character Edward, played by William Hurt, in an isolation tank. He's tripping out, trying to find the meaning of life. He believes it's buried somewhere in his brain, and hey, it's the 70's/80's, so the best way to explore the brain? Drugs.

Yeah. That'll do it.

During a party in which a bunch of pot-smoking professors are hanging out showing off their doctorates, Edward meets Emily. She says she was told he was shy. He sure doesn't act like it, because a couple minutes later they're having sex. However, it doesn't quite go as planned, as Edward's brain is unstable as ever. He sees religious images while having sex, eating sandwiches, peeing...probably while going to church too, but I mean...

At any rate, things don't seem to be working between the two of them, and they plan on divorcing after they both take extended trips to pursue their crafts. Hers being animals in Africa, his being drugs. South American drugs.

So a tribe living in Mexico allows him to join in a mushroom ceremony, where he kills a lizard and can't remember doing so. He takes the drug home with him and takes it while going into the deprivation tank again, but this time, he emerges with something very, very wrong with his neck.

As time progresses, physical devolution sets in. Is it really happening?

I think I've told you enough, but I was thoroughly surprised with this movie. It is full of crazy effects, mind blowing ideas, and more importantly, heart. There's a lot of effort put into this film, and it reaped in rewards with a nomination for both the Oscars and Academy Awards. I promise you, you won't see too many movies like this one, mixing effects, plot, and romance. And yeah...it's a bit shocking as well. I highly recommend it

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