Altered States-attachment0

Altered States

Movie Information

The Thursday Horror Picture Show will screen Altered States on Thursday, Jan. 5, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina Asheville, and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.
Genre: Sci-Fi Horror
Director: Ken Russell
Starring: William Hurt, Blair Brown, Bob Balaban, Charles Haid
Rated: R

It all started in 1979, when director Arthur Penn walked off Altered States (1980) for reasons that were never fully revealed. It didn’t immediately transpire that British filmmaker Ken Russell would take over the production. In fact, the producers went through 25 other choices before offering the film to Russell—which Russell considered apt since 27 was his lucky number. It’s not surprising he was so low down on their list. After the double whammy of Lisztomania (1975) and Valentino (1977)—especially the latter because it was so expensive—Russell was considered virtually unbankable. The filming soon proved anything but smooth, as Russell and screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky (on whose novel the script was based) clashed on nearly every aspect of shooting. This continued until the producers, fed up with Chayefsky’s demands, finally sided with Russell, prompting Chayefsky to have his name taken off the screenplay and to go back to New York. In the end, Altered States became an interesting dovetailing of two very different sensibilities in that it contained all of Chayefsky’s story and dialogue, while being pure Russell in terms of style and scope. It also became on of the best sci-fi horror pictures of the modern era. Its story of a scientist (William Hurt) trying to de-evolve himself to the beginning of time was intense, thematically dense, visually mind-blowing and occasionally terrifying.

For more on Altered States go to:


About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

2 thoughts on “Altered States

  1. Steven Adam Renkovish

    Love this film. My second favorite Ken Russell film. I only wish that I could find a copy of Lisztomania somewhere. Oh, well.

  2. Ken Hanke

    Well, the AFS is screening it on Jan. 31.

    What surprised me was that we were packed for Altered States — and we showed it a little over a year ago.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.