Altered States | 1980
There seems to have been no love lost between scriptwriter Paddy Chayevsky (who took his name off the film) and director Ken Russell in this story of obsessed scientist Eddie Jessup (William Hurt) using a mix of hallucinogenic drugs and sensory deprivation to investigate primal states of consciousness.
The faculty where Jessup conducts his first tentative experiments is New York’s Columbia University, between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway, West 114th and West 120th Streets up towards Mornington Heights. Popular with wacko paranormal investigators, a few years later it spawned the trio of Ghostbusters, and even later
Jessup and his wife Emily (Blair Brown) relocate to Boston, where they live at 108 Myrtle Street, at Grove Street in the Beacon Hill. He continues his experiments at Harvard Medical School, Shattuck Street.
The desire to find his original self takes Jessup to Mexico to take part in an Indian ritual. The bizarre rock formations are for real – the Fantasy Island set at Burbank which the studio wanted to use was too Disneyfied for Russell).
The vertical towers are the Valley of the Monks (Valle de Monjes, a rather toned-down version of its earlier, more colourful, name, Valley of Erect Penises) at Creel in Copper Canyon in the northeast corner of Chihuahua state. He wakes from the psychedelic dream, having killed a lizard, at nearby – and equally descriptive – Valley of the Mushrooms.
He returns via Boston’s Logan International Airport.
The scenes with Jessup regressing further to some kind of primal blob were filmed at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, 506 South Grand Avenue, on Pershing Square, downtown Los Angeles, another Ghostbusters location, previously featured in dozens of films, including The Fabulous Baker Boys, Splash!, The Bodyguard, Beverly Hills Cop, Daredevil and Speed.