movie review blog

The Hidden (1987) Movie Review

The hidden poster.jpg
Law abiding people suddenly become violent criminals. A cop and an FBI agent race for answers in this sci-fi thriller.
— Imdb

Produced by New Line cinema who delivered classic movies like A nightmare on elm street and The lord of the rings trilogy, The Hidden is a mish-mash of different genres echoing films like Invasion of the body snatchers, Star Man and The Terminator.

We open in California where a stranger walks into a bank and coolly opens fire on security guards transporting money. Shown in blurry CCTV camera footage, the figure turns to camera after he has slain his victims peering at us the viewer, an insidious smile grows across his face before he turns the weapon on the CCTV camera obliterating it.

It’s a compelling opening. Turns out the figures name is Jack De fries (Chris Mulkey) and he is being pursued by police for a number of robberies. From here the movie launches into a car chase across town where Jack Defries is pursued by the police. Causing destruction along route, even shamelessly knocking over a wheel chair bound pedestrian all to the tune of 80s rock music. It’s fast paced with a slight tongue in cheek, nihilistic persona. Defries pictured as a cold faced killer, eagerly causing mayhem and destruction.

The chase ends with Defries being cornered by police. They open fire decimating Defries vehicle, sending him skyward in flames. Hideously burned he is transported to hospital.

Enter FBI agent Lloyd Gallagher played by Kyle MacLachlan who is teamed up with the straight-nosed no nonsense cop called Tom Beck played by Michael Nouri, who was supposedly set to play the character of Martin Riggs in Lethal weapon but chose to do this movie instead.

Together they visit the hospital to find that their victim has died. If you haven’t seen the movie before and don’t want to know any spoilers then stop reading now. But its fair to say that its pretty obvious from the get go where the movie goes.

Echoing invasion of the body snatchers the movie turns to SCI-FI/Horror mode as ‘The hidden’ inside Defries body transports itself to another host in the bed across from him. It’s a nicely grotesque sequence as this slug-like parasite enters his next victim through his mouth. Shot in stop animation, this sequence is a practical FX treat. Still highly effective and nicely handled.

With a new body to play with ‘The hidden’ goes on a spree gleefully killing if he needs to taking whatever it fancies from a Ferrari to a ghetto blaster, shamelessly ignorant to niceties of earth. We get the distinct feeling that this creature enters bodies to drain them of whatever life force is left, having to regularly change hosts when the current one becomes redundant.

The movie is very funny at times. There is a recurring Joke involving Gallagher and Alka seltzer that made me chuckle. At times its pitch black and others tongue in cheek. ‘The hidden’ changing into a stripper body gleefully shagging a john to death to take his car. It is rumored that the producers didn’t quite like Claudia Christian’s (who played Brenda the stripper) breast shape choosing to emphasize her ass in the clothing choices for the character. At one point her character wears a very revealing dress designed to show her derrière.

Switching tone easily, it never really becomes boring. Putting aside the fact that it was shot in the 80s which has some of that eras shooting style it still looks quite good. The action is constant more or less from the get go where countless die from bullet wounds. In a riff on the terminator, a lengthy action scene taking place in a police station where ‘the hidden’ riddled with bullets still keeps on going. Also In the musical score, with its pulsing electronic base trying to emulate Brad Fiedel’s iconic Terminator score.

The movie isn’t perfect but it is still worth a watch, even though many movies have been made now which use a similar approach. The police investigation scenes somewhat redundant as well as the occasional shoot out.

The practical effects are nicely handled, the slug-like creature a particular highlight. Not everything fx wise is perfect however, the exception the somewhat dodgy animated laser beam near the end of the movie.

Overall worth checking out. Enjoy!


'Untouchable' Documentary review

Untouchable poster.jpg
A look at the rise and fall of disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein featuring interviews with former colleagues and those who accused him of sexual misconduct.
— imdb

Harvey Weinstein was on top of the world, a celebrated movie producer seemingly at the top of his game in the early 90s. An independent movie darling, willing to make movies others including studios wouldn’t touch. Under the Miramax banner they produced hit after hit , launching more than one movie stars and Directors career. But along with the glitz and glimmer of Hollywood there was a seedy underbelly of abuse and manipulation perpetuated by a sexual predator who wouldn’t take ‘No’ for an answer.

‘Untouchable’ recounts some of these cases, highlighting in detail the ordeals these women had to endure at the hands of ‘Weinstein’. It is difficult to hear, punctuated by pictures of Weinstein smiling for the camera, embracing these women like nothing had happened. The stories are harrowing and disgusting detailing coercion/bullying, assault and sexual assault.

Indeed at one point the Documentary shows the length Harvey went to to discredit these women hiring former a mossad-led agency called ‘Black Cube’ to target them. A low tactic to invalidate their stories with positive publicity shots showing their happiness with him. Air tight NDA agreements that painted them into a corner of complete silence. Coercion and bullying tactics. At the height of his ‘power’ it would take one phone call and that actress would never work again.

It is especially difficult when the industry itself is so cutthroat. To also deal with a megalomaniac who was so persistently predatory that saying no in itself was a difficult task. Even then saying no didn’t mean anything to Weinstein; another challenge to overcome, to conquer. Indeed it would seem, from his very skewed perspective, that these encounters we’re acceptable and condoned because it ‘happens all the time’ in the industry.

If that statement wasn’t shocking enough by itself it is the condoning of these actions by others in the industry who turned a blind eye that are truly abhorrent. Commerce taking precedent over humanity, decency and morality. In this regard it took Disney 12 years to part ways with Weinstein, taking his prized possession ‘Miramax’ in the deal in 2005. It is in this area that the documentary felt a little light, marginally highlighting those who we’re complicit in keeping this abuse quiet for so long while making boat loads of money in the process. Disney seemed to provide shelter for his actions, an unlimited check book and the power for him to be ‘untouchable’.

It is worth noting that only after Disney parted ways with Weinstein did any of these allegations get to see the light of day even then it wasn’t an easy task. Ronan Farrow breaking an explosive story in ‘The New Yorker in 2017 which included a recording of a ‘sting’ operation by New York police headed by Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez where Weinstein is recorded in their second encounter - the first he allegedly touched her breasts - in this he is trying to coerce her to watch him take a shower in his hotel room.

What’s highlighted is the deep shame that these women felt that somehow they were complicit in these actions and the stigma of being branded a survivor and the ‘machine’ at work to keep them silent forever. It is worth noting that the use of an NDA to hide sexual assault is disturbing to say the least. That those in power can use this mechanism to keep abuse away from the public eye is staggering. In the end I can see a more comprehensive documentary being made on this subject which goes behind the scenes exposing the lies.

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Cobra (1986) movie review

‘Cobra’ poster, 1986

‘Cobra’ poster, 1986

A tough-on-crime street cop must protect the only surviving witness to a strange murderous cult with far reaching plans.
— imdb

In 1980s Sylvester Stallone was arguably the biggest star in Hollywood at the time. After a string of box office successes he appeared to have the Midas touch. Signed to originally star in the Beverly Hills cop movie, Stallone utilising a clause in his contract rewrote the screenplay making it more action orientated and changing the main character’s last name to Cobretti. Stallone would later leave the project after Paramount Pictures balked at the increase in budget from Stallone’s rewrite.

Based loosely upon Paula Gosling’s Novel ‘A running Duck’ Stallone wrote ‘Cobra’ about a nihilistic cop who will do anything to take down the bad guys. Directed by George P. Cosmatos, who collaborated with Stallone on ‘Rambo first blood part two’. It is worth noting here that it is rumoured that Stallone ghost directed ‘Cobra’ and ‘Rambo first blood part two’. It would later emerge that ‘Cosmatos’ next picture ‘Tombstone’ was ghost directed by Kurt Russel. Cosmatos being known as a guy who could be used for these services Kurt Russel would later say (about Tombstone) ‘I’d go to George’s room, give him the shot list for the next day, that was the deal. While you’re alive George, I won’t say a goddamn thing.’

‘Cobra’ was green lit with a budget of twenty five million dollars. Produced by Golan and Globus who in the 80s and 90s would shoot out lots of low budget B-movies with varying degrees of success.

Cobra setting is a seedy nihilistic Los Angeles where a ‘new world order’ biker gang is terrorising the general public. The ‘night slasher’, a sadistic serial killer trawls the streets in search of his next quarry. When we join the movie he is about to murder his sixteenth victim, mutilating her body using a razor sharp knife. Cue ‘Cobra’ a tough detective heading the ‘Zombie squad’, an extreme splinter group of the LAPD who shoot first and ask questions later, is tasked with finding and eliminating the ‘night slasher’.

When Ingrid played by Brigitte Nielsen is brutally attacked on her way home from a fashion shoot she comes under the protective watch of ‘Cobra’. That is essentially the movie plot wise.

Viewed now over thirty years later, Cobra is extremely dated. Filled with cheesy one-liners and choppy editing. It is, however, fast paced coming in at a lean 87 minutes. There is a great performance by Brian Thompson who plays the ‘night slasher’. He is a sadistic and menacing presence. The attack on ‘Ingrid’ in an LA hospital a particular highlight.

The original cut of the movie was rumored to be two hours ten minutes long featuring lots of bloody violence. Cut down to a more reasonable 90 minutes and the MPAA insisted that more cuts happen to secure a coveted ‘R’ rating and not the proposed ‘X’ rating. It is definitely a movie that suffers badly from being overly edited. Scenes are haphazardly put together with a lot of sudden cuts when anything violent appears on screen. Continuity errors are frequent and puzzling. Coherency sabotaged for run-time and the misguided belief that being an hour and a half will ensure more cinema viewings.

Some of the action scenes were interesting but again they suffer from poor editing decisions, haphazardly chopping away at any potential coherency and tension. Which is a shame as it could have been another type of ‘Mad max’. You can easily see that movie as being an inspiration for the finale and the subsequent biker gang chase.

In the end it becomes rinse and repeat with biker gangs dying theatrical deaths in very similar ways. ‘Cobra’ using his ‘Jeti-Mati’ automatic weapon slicing down one gang member after the next. I would argue that a cut with more of the violence intact would have made for a better viewing experience. As it stands the movie is part slasher movie part action movie with a tiny bit of romance tacked on to it.

Stallone for the most part revels in this persona delivering a cool, cold performance. It is clearly his movie, front and centre like Dirty Harry. Every other character is thrown into the background, which given some of the poor dialogue isn’t necessarily a bad idea. It’s a shame Warner Brothers didn’t accept the b-Grade aesthetics and embrace more of the violent, sleazy elements.

Still, for a movie which garnered six Razzie awards it did quite well taking in an estimated $160 million at the box office. For a while a sequel was planned but this was abandoned. Stallone recently hinted at a reemergence so maybe an older ‘Cobra’ may eventually hits the screens in future.

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