Altered States


When your trademarks are acid-flashbacks, graphic sexual imagery and a disturbing Christ fetish, it's easy to be misunderstood. Lucky, then, that '70s enfant terrible Ken Russell found a script that included all three - with added monkeys. Based on Paddy Chayefsky's adaptation of his own novel, 1980's Altered States - perhaps Russell's most cohesive film - gets a DVD release. Get the bongs on standby.

William Hurt plays scientist Eddie Jessup, plagued by visions of Christ, whose sensory deprivation experiments begin to regress him to beyond birth. Throw in a Mexican psychedelic and things start to go caveman-shaped...

It's by turns pseudo-analytical head-twister and skull-pounding monster romp, including glorious whip-crack dialogue ("I feel like I'm being lampooned by a raging monk in the act of receiving God!"). Gripes? No extras and the ending is as plausible as Jesus signing Bibles at Waterstones, but the (head) trip still makes it worthwhile.


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