INFLUENCE: Altered States

Starting this week, I’m going to be doing a regular series of posts about the various things that have served as influences in the creation of Other Sleep, however big or small. I always love seeing what inspires my favorite artists and writers, and hopefully these posts will help add a tad bit more depth to the comic itself.


Altered States is a film from 1980, directed by Ken Russell, and if I remember correctly, it was William Hurt’s debut film. I remember my first encounter with it…I was 16 I guess, in the 11th grade, and I saw the DVD, which has the very same image on its cover as the poster, on a shelf at CVS pharmacy. The image was burned into my head. Some time later, after Christmas, I was in Wal Mart with some friends, and I gave our friend who had just turned 17 (and who drove us there) some money to buy it for me out of the five dollar bin, as well as a copy of Ghost in the Shell.

It was some time before I finally watched it, and it took me a couple days to watch it too. This was due in part to how utterly INSANE it was, but also due to the fact that I only watched it when my parents weren’t home.

My brain was blown away. The imagery from the hallucinations were burned into my retina. I was changed…

…Now that I’m older, I find it really hard to watch this movie because, let’s be honest, it hasn’t aged well at all, and even my younger self knew it wasn’t a GREAT movie, but it was still fascinating all the same. When I first started writing Other Sleep, I decided to pop it in for the first time in a few years as research, and about an hour into it I stopped. Those green screen effects weren’t terribly good to begin with, but man…

Still, this is the backbone of Other Sleep, the weird hallucinations, a protagonist who behaves erratically, and the movie introduced me to the concept of the isolation tank. The novel that the movie was based off of was heavily inspired by the work of John C. Lilly, who I seem to remember also hearing about around the same time in an episode of Serial Experiments Lain…

Anyways, it’s worth checking out maybe once. If you can get past how dated the effects are and how dumb the plot gets (evolutionary regression!!), it’s still an interesting film and even if I can’t bring myself to watch it anymore, I still owe a debt to it for planting the first seeds of this comic into my head.


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