I have a special taste for weird film that gives a lot of hallucinations, surrealism etc. This film is one of them. But, apart from the elements, this is not a perfect picture. It lacks totality and looses pace towards the end. You can give it a try to see how they pulled out some visual effects during early 80's.
TL;DR I know, Trust me I know that is movie is not the best in its genre. But hear me out, I absolutely loved the sometimes silly, sometimes imaginatively haunting story this movie revolves around. And if you can keep an open mind to watch the movie without comparing it to anything else since the movie is mostly a self contained story I do believe it will make for an entertaining one time watch.
This is not really a defining movie nor is it something wholly original. And 'Overly Convoluted' is a justified issue, especially considering some of the primordial plot points in the latter half of the story arc. The writers could definitely have done something better with the plot points that revolve around the side effects from constant tests our protagonist puts himself through, and at times feels like a lost opportunity because of the campy route that is chosen. Trying my best not to spoil anything.
Still the film has gorgeous cinematography, some very striking imagery, decent acting, amazing sound work, sometimes excellent and sometimes choppy editing; all this adds up to the film losing out on a higher spot for the subject matter it is tackling.
A 'Must Watch At Least Once' recommendation from me.
The film is in fine shape as long as it revels in its own craziness, making no claims on the viewer's reason. But when it asks you to believe that what you're watching may really be happening, and to wonder what it means, it is asking far too much.
Altered States can be accused of many things, but never of harboring a new idea. Because the script's lessons have been drowned in fruity religious imagery, Altered States is at most an accomplished horror film, the kind of stomach-churning movie to which people like David Cronenberg aspire. [23 Jan 1981]
Essentially a big-budget, modern-day version of a 1960s acid-trip film, ALTERED STATES was helmed by flamboyant, talented, but frequently self-indulgent director Ken Russell, who takes a confusing Paddy Chayefsky story and wraps it in a pretty package, but fails to bring any clarity to the silly affair.
Wild, weird and impossible to get through without thinking about if/how many times Joe Rogan's watched it, Ken Russell's "Altered States" hurls the classic "mad scientist" horror formula down the rabbit hole of psychedelic drugs, churning it all together with some truly impressive visual effects, evocative imagery and appropriately frenetic editing. There's another genre element in play here that I won't spoil, but once you realize the filmmakers at hand are serious about its implementation, it makes for quite the provocative development. It's not a profoundly satisfying watch on the whole, with the film's ending leaving more questions (and not the right ones) than answers, but I'd definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a whacky, trippy, less character-focused stimulation of the senses.
Russell's "Altered States" brings to light some very interesting sci-fi topics in man's evolution and limits of mental sanity. It's just too bad that he laboriously smears these ideas through a heavy molasses of religious intentions and final statements. The result is a sci-fi that takes itself too seriously under special effects that are anything but serious.