Friday, September 18, 2009

80's Trash of the Week: The Hidden




The Hidden had to have influenced Rockstar Games to create Grand Theft Auto. The movie opens with a model citizen shooting up a bank, hopping into a Ferrari and leading the cops on a destructive chase across Los Angeles that ends with him smashing through a roadblock only to be gunned down and set on fire by his own exploding car. Then in the hospital, he gets a new life and wakes up with no guns, and sets out to wreak more havoc. In another body of course...
Grizzled L.A. cop Tom Beck (soap opera vet Michael Nouri) pumps the final bullets into the maniac, and follows to the hospital later. But the Feds- represented by a Porsche-driving Kyle MacLachlan as the oddly quiet Agent Lloyd Gallagher- step in, and while Beck at first bristles at this intrusion, he learns to like his partner's unorthodox style, and habit of driving a Porsche at high speeds through L.A. We find out what "the hidden" is almost immediately, as our mortally wounded bad guy grabs the patient in the bed next to him and pukes up a squealing black space slug into his mouth. Ew.
I came upon this lost gem through Dreamin Demon and while I may snicker at the comparisons to The Terminator (full review), this is one surprisingly good B movie that outshines many of the bigger flicks of its era. You've got to hand it to William Boyett- veteran of trash such as Space Raiders- for equaling Vincent D'Onofrio's turn in Men in Black at portraying an alien using a human body like a cheap Halloween costume. He really looks like he's controlled by a space slug in his abdomen. And the best part about this slug is that it loves Ferraris, guns, strippers and booze.
Like a long episode of Outer Limits, they have to keep chasing down the host creature but can't manage to kill the Hidden creature within before it can find another body. The most memorable scene is probably after it invades one of the strippers from a nightclub, and she whips out a streetsweeper shotgun to pepper the cop cars with buckshot. I remember seeing that in the trailer, and several times on HBO before I got to see this movie. And while the acting is relatively hilarious, and the direction by Jack "Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Homoerotic College Years" Sholder is uninspired, The Hidden has many charms that make it fun to watch. Kyle MacLachlan brings a bemused aloofness to his role as alien hunter, and even movies like Crank don't rise to the level of a good run of mayhem in Vice City that this managed 22 years ago. Written by Jim Kouf- who'd pen The Boogens, Stakeout, and Rush Hour- it clunks along but has an interesting premise of alien possession and never takes itself too seriously.
Claudia Christian was a real hottie in this one, and got to have some fun as well. The alien is amused by her body and before Kristiana Loken's Terminator-X inflated its chest, it realized the power of the human boobies.
"When a flamethrower appears in the first act, it must go off by the second act." -Anton Chekhov.

All 68 entries in our ongoing series of 80's Trash of the Week are here.

Beers Required to Enjoy: 1
Could it be remade today? It needs to be.
Quotability Rating: Low
Cheese Factor: High. Arcturian goat cheese
High Points: MacLachlan, shootouts and chases, FIRE!
Low Point: Slow
Gratuitous Boobies: Claudia Christian in hot clothes.


5 comments:

J.D. said...

I love this film for many of the reasons you stated above. For some strange reason Kyle MacLachlan's character, and how he plays him, feels like the missing link (or reel?) between his characters in BLUE VELVET and TWIN PEAKS. The give and take between him and Michael Nouri's character is well-played with MacLachlan's odd behavior always getting on Nouri's nerves.

And you're right, for sheer giddy mayhem and destruction, CRANK 2 has a lot to learn from a fun film like this one.

Excellent review! Makes me wanna watch this film again.

Caitlin said...

The flamethrower comment ... well played. And I must see this movie. I must!

Andy said...

I had the issue of Fangoria with a feature on this one, but I never did get around to watching it. I think I had been burned one too many times by their habit of raving about how totally awesome every movie they wrote about was.

Tommy Salami said...

Yeah Andy, they were the Ain't it Cool News of the '80s, weren't they?

This one's note as good as Pin... but it's still quite a bit of fun.

Reminds me. Gotta review Pin :)

FilmFather said...

The Hidden's a great "junk food" sci-fi flick -- I still remember how happily suprised I was by it. That car chase at the beginning can still stand up against anything being churned out by Hollywood today.

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