Sunday, March 21, 2010

Altered States (1980)

"Altered States" is a modern version of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde".  I had heard a lot about it over the years, but I never saw it.  Finally the time has come.

So the film is mostly one big drug trip.  William Hurt plays a College Professor who is experimenting and testing drugs.  After Hurt travels to Mexico in search of an unusual drug made by Indians, he experiences the most amazing trip of his life.  We get to see the hallucinations Hurt is experiencing and they are extremely well made.  I was especially impressed with the unusual editing style.  Inside these drug trips, we see many crazy things.  The most memorable one for me was when his wife appears in the desert and they fall asleep looking at each other.  It is as if time passes over centuries.  Sand is blowing over them until their bodies are covered up for eternity.  It was strange and surreal.  

Eventually this drug starts to physically change William Hurt into a sort of caveman primate.  He is becoming his original self.  The make-up was very well done and there were some thrilling scenes of his primate self, especially inside a zoo.  

The most amazing use of make-up in the film is when Hurt's body starts to convulse and expand.  It is unclear whether this change is happening in his mind or in reality.  I figure it was really happening for the simple fact that he eventually becomes that big monkey.  This was the beginning of the change.

The ending of the film didn't really make sense to me...  I'm not quite sure what happened.  It has something to do with Hurt becoming his original organism self, but then he touches his wife and she starts glowing...  It's strange...

A lot of drug films have come out over the years and this is one of the better ones.  "Altered States" does have maybe one or two too many drug trips, but overall it is a solid story with great special effects and surreal experiences.

B  I recommend it.

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