Instant Classic

Paramount Theatre's Summer 2000 Series


D: Ken Russell; with William Hurt, Blair Brown, Charles Haid, Bob Balaban, Drew Barrymore. (R, 102 min.) Although it's hard to believe now, there once was a time when no one under 17 was admitted into films rated R. In 1975, for example, the campaign I waged to get my father to take me to Jaws was like the 100 Years War -- long and protracted, but decisive. We loved it. Five years later, still a few tree rings short of the cut-off, I was too preteen to ask my dad to take me to Altered States and fulfill his obligations as "(unless accompanied by a) parent or guardian," so I made do reading Paddy Chaefsky's religion vs. science debunker about a mad professor who mixes hallucinogens and isolation tanks and de-evolutionizes himself back into, and then past, the Stone Age. Bonzo Goes Subatomic. When Ken Russell's sci-fidelic freakout appeared on fledgling cable channel HBO a few years later, it seemed appropriate that my one-time movie theatre manager father and I watched it together. Chaefsky disowned his screenplay, but we loved it -- the outrageous premise and over-the-top execution. The cast, featuring Hurt in his film debut, was great. Almost 20 years later, an expensive bronze-flake poster of Altered States hangs in my living room. When a houseguest found it aglow early one morning, I grinned like a proud parent, recalling our tiny TV room and two faces glowing with shared love. (7/17-18)

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More by Raoul Hernandez
Review: Haunter’s <i>Discarnate Ails</i>
Review: Haunter’s Discarnate Ails
A three-song behemoth from Central Texas death metal unit debut on Profound Lore

May 20, 2022

William Basinski Proves a Rock Star of Experimental Sound
William Basinski Proves a Rock Star of Experimental Sound
Texan auditory stud beguiles Elysium prior to lunar eclipse

May 16, 2022

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle