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1980 Movie Reviews – Altered States

by Sean P. Aune | December 25, 2020December 25, 2020 10:30 am EST

Welcome to an exciting year-long project here at The Nerdy. 1980 was an exciting year for films giving us a lot of films that would go on to be beloved favorites and cult classics. It was also the start to a major shift in cultural and societal norms, and some of those still reverberate to this day.


We’re going to pick and choose which movies we hit, but right now the list stands at nearly three dozen.

Yes, we’re insane, but 1980 was that great of a year for film.

The articles will come out – in most cases – on the same day the films hit theaters in 1980 so that it is their true 40th anniversaries. All films are also watched again for the purposes of these reviews and are not being done from memory. In some cases, it truly will be the first time we’ve seen them.

This time around it’s Dec. 25, 1980, and we’re off to see Altered States!

Quick side note: Since we launched this series this year, we’ve discovered that Vintage Video Podcast is doing the exact same project with two differences: First, it’s audio (naturally), and second, they are doing every major film. We’ve listened to a couple of episodes and it’s fun checking off their thoughts against my own. Check them out over at Vintage Video Podcast.

1980 Movie Project - Altered States - 01

Altered States

You know what says Christmas? A movie about an egotistical scientist who takes so many drugs that he reverts to protoplasam from the dawn of time.

Altered States is one of those movies I’ve always meant to get to, and have just never had the time to get to it. And now that I have finally seen it, it may make me regret this entire 1980 project.

Dr. Edward “Eddie” Jessup (William Hurt) is a psychopathologist working on studying schizophrenia. Well, he tells us that multiple times, but it really seems to be all about how many drugs he can take to reach other states of consciousness.

See, he keeps saying this is all about schizophrenia, but once Eddie heads to Mexico to partake in a ritual that will allow him to make contact with the past, this movie just goes wildly off the rails. We got more and more prolonged hallucinogenic sequences of nonsensical visuals, but we also get to enjoy watching him devolve.

Yes, it’s true, you take enough drugs you begin to physically devolve. Who knew?

Perhaps even more perplexing in this movie was how Eddie continually got his friends to go along with his insanity. “EDDIE! YOU’RE MAD! I WON’T BE A PART OF THIS!… Oh, okay, let me take his vitals and get him set up with an X-ray.” Everyone in this movie chewed the scenery like it was their last meal, but not a one of them could get it to make a lick of sense.

What a way to end our year of reviews: With a laborious trek of a film.

The 1980 movie reviews, have come to a close, but we will return on Jan. 14, 2021 with the kickoff of our 1981 movie reviews! Check back in for reviews of Scream and Scanners!

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Sean P. Aune

Sean Aune has been a pop culture aficionado since before there was even a term for pop culture. From the time his father brought home Amazing