Altered States

January 28, 2012 4 Min Read

Review by: Al Barnes

Plot: What’s it about?

Do we walk a fine line between the civilized and our primordial selves where a push in the wrong direction can return us to man’s savage beginnings? Eddie Jessup (William Hurt) thinks so and is obsessed with finding a way to walk through that door. After returning from Mexico with a powerful hallucinogen, Dr. Jessup begins a journey to the past he believes man still has locked in his brain. Eddie’s wife, (Blair Brown) a fellow scientist moves from intrigue to terror as she sees her husband’s transformation to something not of this world. Unable to stop him, Jessup’s wife and colleague…played by Bob Balaban (Close Encounters of the Third Kind) have no choice but to help Eddie survive…if possible. If you’re ready for a visual ride into Eddie’s private hell and experience our most basic instinct to survive…press play and hold on.

William Hurt’s first film appearance here is by no means the beginning of his acting career…magna cum laude from Tufts, three years at Julliard, critically acclaimed appearances on stage and it goes on from there. Hurt is convincing as the driven researcher willing to forsake his family and friends to prove his theories. So many movies of this type, even the well done ones are based on the same premise, vampires, aliens and creatures of all kinds but the originality of this story…yes I know there is a creature in this one too…allows you to use your mind and visual senses. Its 19 years later and Altered States still packs a good punch.

Video: How does it look?

Enhanced Widescreen and Standard versions made the transfer to DVD with the looks of the original. Good visual effects…especially for 19 years ago…come through quite well.

Audio: How does it sound?

Re-mastered in 5.1 the soundtrack was disappointing at times, especially when the dialogue comes through the center channel with a very harsh sound. Most of the score and effects do well in the Digital format but after hearing Silverado’s digital re-mastering…check the review…it was a major let down. In its original release Altered States was nominated for Academy Awards for best sound and best score. It didn’t win with me either.

Supplements: What are the extras?

I have to back step a bit from my previous statement that the “Reel Recommendations” on all DVD’s are a waste…O.K. I was wrong, there I said it. There are some on this DVD that you can play the trailer for the film. Some even activate the Digital Mode on my receiver but only the center channel has sound…and poor quality at that. The trailer for Contact though is done in full 5.1 and all channels are heard from. Cast bios cover some interesting history, Blair Brown and Charles Haid…Merv Griffin’s cousin…both made their first (significant) movie appearance in The Choir Boys, a disaster of a movie but one of the better books I have read.

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