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Altered States

Year: 1980
Studio: Warner Bros
Director: Ken Russell
Writer: Sidney Aaron/Paddy Chayefsky
Cast: William Hurt, Charles Haid, Thaao Penghlis, Drew Barrymore, Bob Balaban

More of a drug trip than a movie, full of the sort of images you'd expect to see in the altered states depicted in the film from float tanks, native tribal hashish medicines and long periods of unconsciousness.

A scientist (Hurt) is experimenting – we're never sure what or why, except the title seems to suggest it's to achieve a new consciousness. He turns into all sorts of spectacular beasts for no apparent reason, including regressing to a Neanderthal in the film's most bizarre sequence.

Psycho/sexual/socio/physiological hijinks become more frequent and less explicable, but for some reason it's an enjoyable cult movie anyway. A standout is the conversation about the nature of human and animal consciousness over wine drunk straight from the bottle.

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