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!