It's confession time. I know I picked Ken Russell's 1980 sci-fi mind molester as the inaugural film for Sci-Fi Squad's experimental Movie Club, but the truth is, I'm not entirely sure I'm up to the task of unraveling the intellectual Gordian Knot that is Altered States. I'll certainly give it a shot.

I hope you've actually seen the film by now, but if you haven't, Altered States is the story of a professor and scientist named Eddie Jessup (William Hurt) whose quest to uncover the ultimate truth about the meaning of life fractals out of control when his attempts to transcend his own consciousness (by combining sensory deprivation techniques with unidentified psychotropic drugs) begins manifesting, against all logic, a physical response.

That's just the short form description. Russell's film deals with a number of different issues, but perhaps more prevalent than anything else are the body blows he deals to the nature of the modern scientist and his relationship to his loved ones and peers, himself, and the unknown (both religious and scientific).

Obviously there's a lot to talk about, but for the sake of word count, we'll stick with these three questions:

- What does Altered States have to say about the Modern Scientist?
- If Jessup is an atheist, why does he always dream of religion?
- Okay, seriously, what's up with the visuals?
categories Features, Sci-Fi