- Cult Classic: Bonkers as it is, it's one of Ken Russell's best films and its very weirdness is part of what it makes it so effective.
- Designated Hero: Eddie's not the easiest person to like.
- Just Here for Godzilla: The trippy hallucination sequences may be the big selling point for most viewers. Well, that and the Fanservice, depending on the type of viewer.
- Memetic Mutation: The final sequence with William Hurt banging on the walls of a hallway, fighting the transformation. Even A Ha referenced it in "Take On Me".
- Nightmare Fuel:
- The absolutely hellish hallucinations. Damned souls writhing in Hell, thousands of crucifixion victims suspended over splashing lava, and dividing cells are among the hallucinatory images.
- The trailer uses them to full effect. One of them has one extremely terrifying delivery of its lines: "The most terrifying experiment ever done...IS OUT OF CONTROL."
- Special Effects Failure:
- The hallucinatory sequences (of which there are many) are brilliant, but an actor in a fur suit (actually stunt actor Miguel Godreau, not William Hurt) just doesn't scream Australopithecus, especially considering that Stanley Kubrick made more convincing Ape-like human ancestors with late-sixties special effects in 2001. Kubrick probably had more money to work with though: Ken Russell's "primitive hominid" character looks like something out of a 1930's serial.
- Actually, some of the hallucinations look like what they are: drops of paint exploding on Petri dishes. Bran Ferren replaced John Dykstra after the latter quit the film, one of the many things that went wrong.
- Spiritual Predecessor: The film's mix of macabre surrealism, Fanservice and hellish hallucination imagery makes some filmgoers feel that this film was written and directed by Clive Barker of Hellraiser, Nightbreed, Candyman (which was more Stanley Kubrick-like then Russell-like) and Lord of Illusions. Paddy Chayefsky's book which the film was based can also been viewed as Barker-like as well, as Barker is also a horror novelist aside from being a director.
- They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: The intellectual one up to about 40 minutes, with philosophical questions about life and religion depicted with fantastic hallucination sequences, up until he starts literally turning into a gorilla from tripping in an isolation tank.
YMMV / Altered States