The Hidden (1987)
By: Paul Ryan on June 29, 2009  | 
Reel (Australia) Region: 4, PAL. 1.85:1 (16x9 Enhanced). English DD 5.1, English DD 2.0. English (SDH) Subtitles. 93 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Jack Sholder
Starring: Michael Nouri, Kyle MacLachlan, Claudia Christian, Ed O'Ross.
Screenplay: Bob Hunt
Country: USA
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A mild-mannered, hitherto-law-abiding stockbroker (Chris Mulkey) has suddenly gone on a spree of robberies and killings. Following a frantic pursuit through the streets of L.A., the cops appear to have brought him down. Whilst in hospital, the dying stockbroker spews a black, slug-like creature into the mouth of a fellow patient, who subsequently gets up, leaves, and starts picking up where the other guy left off. Investigating the curious mess, Detective Tom Beck (Michael Nouri) reluctantly finds himself partnered with FBI agent Lloyd Gallagher (Kyle MacLachlan), who has come to L.A. from Seattle (well, maybe…) to assist with the investigation. The decidedly eccentric Gallagher clearly knows far more than he's letting on as the pair pursue the case. But nothing can prepare Beck for the true nature of what he's been chasing: a malevolent alien parasite that is taking over human bodies and using them to commit murder and mayhem…

One of the great b-movies of the 1980s, The Hidden is a lightning paced, winningly tongue-in-cheek action film. Directed by the underrated Jack Sholder (Nightmare on Elm Street 2), this boasts a clever script (co-written by Jim Kouf, of Stakeout, Rush Hour and TVs Angel) which is full of great characterization and amusing dialogue. The conceit of everyday people turning into unlikely lawbreakers is handled with wit and imagination, exemplified by a sequence involving a possessed stripper (Babylon 5's Claudia Christian, in a deadpan comic performance). Michael Nouri is excellent as the veteran homicide cop, but the film belongs to Kyle MacLachlan, who gives a performance of real thoughtfulness and texture, whilst delivering some great moments of physical humour. With lots of familiar character actors in supporting roles (Ed O'Ross, Lin Shaye, Richard Brooks), even the minor characters are well drawn.

Oh, and look fast for Machete himself, Danny Trejo, who has one line near the end.
A tad flickery and speckled at times, this is an otherwise pleasing anamorphic transfer. The image is sharp and clear throughout, if a little faded.
Audio comes in both 2.0 and 5.1 tracks, and both are very impressive, with good use of the surrounds.
Extra Features
Audio Commentary: Jack Sholder, accompanied by fellow filmmaker Tim Hunter (River's Edge) provides an engrossing commentary. Sholder doesn't mince words when it comes to critiquing certain effects and performances, but does so in a honest and fair manner. He's still very proud of MacLachlan and Nouri's performances (despite not getting along with the latter), and discusses the mechanics of the shoot in intricate - but never boring – detail. Hunter and Sholder also explore underlying themes of humanism throughout the script, making this a commentary of unexpected depth.

Special Effects Test Footage: Breakdowns of key effects scenes, accompanied by commentary by Sholder. This also includes an earlier, more elaborate version of the final showdown with the symbiote, and it is not hard to see why it was cut… The footage is in variable condition, but its a worthwhile look at how they did this stuff back in the pre-CGI 80s.

Theatrical Trailer: A fuzzy, NTSC-converted trailer that positively oozes 1980s. Drum-machine heavy, ultra-cheesy (far more so than the actual film) and featuring narration by one of those guys who narrated most of the trailers of the era.
The Verdict
Spirited, funny and action-packed, The Hidden has aged well in the 22 years since its original release. Reel's DVD has some good special features for a budget release, and the video and audio are a-ok.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score

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