This film is a rare find. I have not seen it on the typical movie cable stations, it sometimes pops up on PBS and very rarely cut to pieces on network TV.
It is a dark, difficult to follow tale of a researcher that begins to use an isolation tank and then combines this with a peyote-like substance he received from Native-Mexican shaman.
The direction is a bit dated to the late sixties or early seventies although the film was released in 1980. The use of psychedelic special effects is a bit over used but does add to the overall mood of the story.
The researcher is played by a very young William Hurt (his second film and first staring role). His portrayal is a bit flat at times but overall worth the watch.
Playing his wife is Blair Brown, far more seasoned in her performance as the long suffering wife and co-worker.
The ancillary parts are well cast. Charles Haid as the physician and best friend of Hurt's character is the lifeline of sanity to both the characters and the viewers. Look for a very young Drew Barrymore as the daughter and John Larroquette as an X-ray technician.
Directed by the very prolific Ken Russell, this is one of his better-known films.
The story is by Paddy Chayefsky who demanded to have his name removed from the credits. He wrote the original novel by had the name Sidney Aaron on the credit.
It's a wild ride for the serious movie lover.
The DVD is up to standards.
The Dolby 5.1 soundtrack is remixed from the original Dolby used in the theaters so it falls short of the expectations most have for this format.
The visuals are transferred from an original print with almost no compression artifacts.
The extras include several trailers and a "making of" featurette.
The aspect ratio is only 1:1.85 but the story more than fills the screen.
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