The Hidden (1987)
The Hidden (1987)

Genre: Sci-Fi Thriller Running Time: 1 hr. 36 min.

Release Date: October 30th, 1987 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Jack Sholder Actors: Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Nouri, Claudia Christian, Clarence Felder, Clu Gulager, Ed O’Ross, Richard Brooks, Katherine Cannon, Lin Shaye

 


 

A

vicious, smiling murderer robs a Wells Fargo bank with a shotgun before fleeing in his black sports car. Turning up the rock music apparently inspires some reckless but effective evasive maneuvers and enables him to careen through a park – though he fails to avoid an elderly man in a wheelchair blocking his path. A heavily armed police roadblock causes the flight to end in a fiery explosion, with the culprit Jack DeVries (Chris Mulkey) stuck in a coma in intensive care, with severe burns. As a rampaging serial killer – responsible for the deaths of 12 people, 6 robberies, 23 injuries, and numerous carjackings, among other crimes – Jack seems to deserve his miserable fate.

When FBI Agent Lloyd Gallagher (Kyle MacLachlan) arrives in Los Angeles from Seattle, he seeks out star detective Sergeant Thomas Beck (Michael Nouri) for information on stockbroker DeVries. Despite the fact that DeVries isn’t supposed to make it through the night, Lloyd hurries over to the hospital, knowledgeable on the man’s suspicious activities and the likelihood of a startling recovery. Sure enough, the burn victim awakens long enough to transfer a massive insectoid alien directly into Johnathan P. Miller’s (William Boyett) mouth. It’s soon evident that the slimy black creature changes human hosts frequently and uses the flimsy bodies to take whatever it likes (mainly Porsches and Ferraris) and kills anyone in its path.

Right off the bat, the alien slug is revealed and, though the overall mystery disappears, it’s an impressively revolting sequence. Unexplainably capable of stretching oral orifices beyond normal dimensions, the monstrosity gruesomely tunnels out of and back into unwitting victims – including Harem Room stripper Brenda Lee Van Buren (Claudia Christian). Unfortunately, despite the initial special effects proving the film’s capabilities, the thing doesn’t make another appearance until the very end (where the plot incidentally mirrors David Cronenberg’s “Scanners” in unworldly salvation). What could have been a consistently and amusingly gruesome alien invader epic instead relies primarily on action and suspense. And indeed, “The Hidden” features great action sequences, tense chases (one of the best involves a hunt for a shapely blonde hiding in a mannequin warehouse), bloody shootouts (with a high body count), and even political thrills.

Gallagher is the hotshot young agent who doesn’t seem to have or need social skills, while Beck is the tougher, more experienced detective, in way over his head and receiving too much jurisdictional red tape and vague answers to be anything more than a guide. But their repartee and partnership is above average, not like a good cop/bad cop pairing or a loose cannon playing against an uptight stickler for the rules, but rather a reasoning (and disbelieving) veteran lawman teamed with an extraterrestrial investigator. “The Hidden” likely influenced the chemistry between Agents Jay and Kay in 1997’s “Men in Black.” Surprisingly, the performances are incredibly convincing, especially considering that the explanations all involve extraterrestrial parasites and alien weapons. Everyone treats the outlandish situations with a level of seriousness not often found in low-budget, sci-fi monster movies.

– Mike Massie

  • 8/10