This evening we watched the 1980 Ken Russell classic, Altered States, starring an unrecognisably young William Hurt. The sprogs found the film by turns corny but also suspenseful. We oldies rather enjoyed it, despite the corn. Like many of the best stories, the plot (from Paddy Chayeksky’s novel of the same name) is based on truth; in this case, research into sensory deprivation carried out in isolation tanks under the influence of psychotopic drugs. William Hurt’s character, Edward Jessup, is a professor of psychology who theorises about other states of consciousness, submits himself to sensory deprivation and drugs and inadvertently connects with a deeper, primaeval consciousness that involves physical regression (a primitive man, and then primordial consciousness). In the end, his wife saves him from himself, which is dreadfully corny. In the meantime, though, we enjoyed what one critic described as a ‘methodically paced fireworks display, exploding into delirious special-effects sequences at regular intervals, and maintaining an eerie calm the rest of the time.’