If there was one thing that would throw me for a loop when I was a kid watching either the silver or small screen, it was something about crossing paths with someone that was a “some-THING.” The thought of seeing a humanoid left me scared to walk down our dark hallway at night after seeing IN SEARCH OF. In a related way, I had an equal fear of the sub-human. This is where the KEN RUSSELL-directed ALTERED STATES comes in. The mixed-genera flick received a humble blip at the 1980 box office, but ads showed that you were in for a wallop on the senses. I was 10 when it came out, and would not be allowed to see it. Good thing, since the T.V. advertising was thoughtful enough to save viewers from the shots I’m talking about here: The lead character in his famously-horrifying deformed condition. (If you know the movie, WILLIAM HURT becomes a deformed screaming blob-o-human due to a regression to a de-volved state of humanoid existence. Are things brought into clarity upon seeing the film? No… It’s a KEN RUSSELL film, folks.)
The fact is, I DID run smack into the trauma-rific scenes of this movie in surprise-attack fashion. California people here may remember an ‘80s Bay Area television show called EVENING MAGAZINE. This was one of those trite local fares covering stories about neat local places to eat, hike, and explore, and was good for getting you between dinner and CHiPs on a school night. Sounds great right? Well, there was one EVENING MAGAZINE reporter that needed his head examined.
Clearly having seen the movie, this particular reporter’s dainty segment on a little-known isolation tank location in San Francisco described that, for a fee, you can be deprived of senses and improve meditation. So what does he decide to splice into this human-interest piece? A SUB-human life-form writhing like a banshee and slamming his deformed appendages into walls – yes, the climax of R-rated ALTERED STATES!
A cold sweat hit all the grannies in the Bay Area, and me, simultaneously.
Yeah sure, the movie, like his segment, features isolation chambers – so obviously the thing to do is show the movie’s KEN RUSSELL-horror-hallucination-freak-out and shock everybody during prime time! I guess it was meant as a timely pop culture in-joke, but WTF?
I’ll never understand why I had to get that dose of heart trauma at that age by a things-to-do segment.
If I could find that reporter today, I’d get medieval on his a$$!