The Hidden/The Hidden II (1987/1994)
By: Mr Intolerance on September 19, 2010  | 
DVD
[dvd]Metropolitan | Region 2, PAL | 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced) | English DD 5.1 | 93 minutes[/dvd] (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Jack Sholder; Seth Pinsker
Starring: Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Nouri, Claudia Christian, Clarence Felder, Clu Gulager, Ed O'Ross; Raphael Sbarge, Kate Hodge, Jovin Mantanaro, Christopher Murphy, Michael Weldon
Screenplay: Bob Hunt; Seth Pinsker
Country: USA
External Links
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A film that starts with a car-chase at high speed, with the perp who's just robbed a bank with a fair degree of violence escaping in a black Ferrari to the tune of bad 80s hair metal is always going to get your attention. Especially when the perp is a bad guy from Twin Peaks, and he comes to a very messy shotgun-toting-end.

Part buddy-film, part science-fiction, part-horror, The Hidden mines a pretty rich vein of body-horror, showing us that traditional fear of something from outside invading your body, taking it over and doing bad things with it.

Detective Beck (Michael Nouri) is a bitter man. I would be too, if I'd been in Flashdance. And he's one who's hotly sought after in terms of people wanting to work with him, given he seems to be the flagship of the Homicide department, but he eventually ends up with oddball (I don't mean like Jerry Lewis, just somehow…different) FBI agent Lloyd Gallagher (Kyle MacLachlan – soon to repise the role of oddball FBI agent Dale Cooper in Twin Peaks, on both the large and small screens). Jack de Vries, the metalhead klepto shot to bits that morning, is not your average perp, in that he spews a rancid alien parasite into another patients' mouth not long after his arrival, which tends to a) rapidly precipitate his demise, and b) prolong the life of the other casualty he's sharing a room with. For a while, anyway.

Aliens apparently have good taste in music. When it's not metal, it's Concrete Blonde, and you can't complain about that. But the general public do, sad Shemps that they are, when our new parasite host body goes to a café, and then we encounter alien weirdness, in the form of devotion to fast cars and all the wonderfulness that goes with them, however injurious it is to our new perp's health. He's not a well boy, and it looks like our interstellar visitor may have crapped out when choosing himself a ride.

So then, these aliens' distinctive features: they're anti-social, they like fast cars and loud music, try to unsuccessfully ape adult behaviours, can't drink booze for shit and will eat anything not actually nailed down. Argh! Look out, we're being invaded by teenaged boys! Apart from that, they have greater than human strength, and can continue functioning well past the limit of human endurance. Basically, the body has to be destroyed before they get terribly concerned, and then, given the presence of any organic being close enough – bingo! They have a new host again, and so they continue to exist. The host, of course, is as dead as a dodo, regardless of how much damage they've suffered.

There's a sub-plot developing to do with a Senator who's running for President which gathers momentum as the film progresses, signposted early in the film when we hear Beck's chief being told that Beck has been assigned as security for the Senator. The alien also seems to have a keen interest in this Senator, suspiciously enough.

Gallagher lets a few personal details slip that get Beck's radar working; he's started to wise up to the fact his temporary Federal partner may not be what he seems. Mind you, there were some pretty fucking obvious clues right from the start; I'd like to think that detectives are all a little sharper than this in real life.

The alien moves on into a much more interesting shape, and the director cues in a nice visual gag to coincide with the soundtrack – think of that Hunters & Collectors song "The Slab" (it's on the soundtrack; most of the songs on it seem to be from bands on the I.R.S. label in the States; they had a pretty good roster back in the day), and think of that song's most famous line, and the gag goes with that.

Anyway, time for car-chase (I'm a sucker for a car chase – this one is by no means a stand-out example of the genre, but definitely has its heart in the right place), then a pursuit on foot through a mannequin factory (and anyone who's played the Xbox 360 game Condemned knows how scary they can be), The tension is definitely rising, kids!

That wraps up the synopsis, because the last act has some surprises in store I ain't going to ruin for you, and revs the film up from a modest 55mph to a rip-roaring 150. This is an entertaining romp all the way through, but those last couple of reels really get the adrenaline going. The soundtrack changes from a predominantly indie pop one to an oddly menacing irregular percussive track, and the tone of the film shifts pretty noticeably with it into something much darker. And in one scene, there's a blink and you'll miss it appearance by Danny Trejo – keep those eyes open pop-pickers!

You could re-name this film "It Came From The 80s" and I think it'd be pretty appropriate; this is very much a product of its time (no bad thing) and it would sit alongside a copy of Future Cop in your collection quite well as that film's older, more intelligent brother. Or maybe see it as a little like an urbanised low budget version of Carpenter's The Thing. The analogy isn't a hundred percent accurate, but at the same time it isn't a million miles away. Sci-fi horror was at a premium back in the day, and this is one of the rewards.

Kyle MacLachan's hair in this film is a thing of wonder. It doesn't move, ever. This is some scary shit right there. It looks the same from a range of different angles. It's like it's looking at you wherever you are, like the eyes in a creepy painting in a haunted house…

The Hidden 2

I can't even imagine why somebody thought the original film needed a sequel, apart from for the bucks, of course. I mean, everything seemed pretty wrapped up to me at the end of the first one – move on and do something new.

The score for the second film over the title credits seems to be upping the horror element – it's a very horror-centric sounding score. This is also known as over-playing your hand. What about lulling the audience into a false sense of security? The caption, "Based on characters by Bob Hunt" did not sit well with me either – don't ruin characters I like from the original film by making them make arses out of themselves! It cheapens the original!

Oh well…We start off the movie with something that I can't tell you about because it would be a massive spoiler for the first film, suffice it to say that we now know that we are fifteen years after the events of the first film. The director then does the inexcusable – I've never forgiven Wes Craven for doing it in the original sequel to The Hills Have Eyes – he uses substantial amounts of footage from the original film. This is uncool. The spoiler aside, most of the opening ten minutes of this film are edited footage from the last twenty or so from The Hidden. This is so un-cool I can't even begin to tell you.

A really dodgy plot-device is then used to let us know that the alien parasite is still alive and well and living in LA. This is not starting out well, people. Although I did kind of dig the special effects, even if they were a little....shall we say 'reminiscent' of Carpenter's The Thing.

The director seems to be pretty openly asking the question, "What's more scary than an alien parasite?" The answer appears to be: "LOTS of alien parasites!!!" I think we can all see where this is going.

And so it's skip 15 years to the present (which is now of course the past) and those pesky alien critters are at it again. They've been holed up in an abandoned warehouse, which is about to be used for an underground rave. Those they infect suddenly seem much more capable of human interaction than in the original flick, although they still have the same weaknesses for fast cars, loud music and otherwise gorging themselves at the trough of plenty. Also, we see Detective Beck (obviously played by a different actor) indulging in a little bit of a reflective moment.

He heads off to check out a crime scene which is similar to the modus operandi from the original film, but things don't quite go to plan. However, his little girl Julia, just a bub in the first film, is all grown up now (and how!), and seems to be taking up dad's old hobby of hunting insectoid alien vermin, although she's a little disbelieving of it at first, herself, but is convinced to do so by a mysterious stranger, whose function in this film appears to be to play the Kyle MacLachlan character here.

Time to go bust up a rave! Personally, I think both characters deserve the Congressional Medal of Honour for doing so, alien parasites or no, but taste is a personal thing, I guess. Personally, I think that the desire to attend a rave should incur the penalty of having a large and vicious alien parasite inserted in you, and not in the oral fashion shown in these films, if you take my meaning. Mind you, watching people dance like they think they're good at it is always a laugh.

We get a few setbacks, and then the story progresses in an infinitely tedious form, as it has from the beginning. Y'know, watching this film after the first one, it really does show you the difference in what directorial vision brings to a movie, and this one has none.

Oh, what a surprise, a climax devoid of any tension. The word, "Meh" springs to mind.

On sober reflection, if this wasn't a straight-to-video release, I'll eat my boots. The script is truly terrible, and the acting? I could train chimps to do better work. Actually, that'd be a film I'd watch, kind of like if Lancelot Link did a sci-fi/horror film. That gives me an idea… Anyone know where I can get old of an acting chimp?
Video
Absofuckinglutely beautiful. Insanely good transfers, with both features presented in their original 1.85:1 aspect ratios and 16:9 enhanced.
Audio
Also excellent. It's interesting that the director of the first film didn't rate the score originally, because to me it's one of the things which stands out about it.
Extra Features
The sequel – how's that for a fucking extra?! You fucking beauty! Two movies about alien mind control parasite craziness in the one package? Thank you, I'll have one of those. Stick that up your arse, all you cheapskate motherfuckers who think that things like "Interactive menus" and "Scene selection" rate as special features – and it wasn't even written on the packaging, that was the really cool surprise about it, I just opened the disc and ta-daa! A shame it wasn't any good. You also get a director commentary with Jack Sholder and Tim Hunter, some very interesting interviews with Jack Sholder and Michael Nouri who are quite candid about their frequent disagreements on set, also about the chase scene at the beginning, and with Sholder about the score, and another with Sholder about his career briefly and the film as a whole. They aren't terribly long, but they are interesting for fans of the film There are some trailers for Re-Animator, Critters, Dawn of the Dead (re-make), and the original theatrical of The Hidden. There are filmographies for Michael Nouri, Kyle MacLachlan and Jack Sholder (I might remind you, this is a French disc – some of it you'll be able to work out, other stuff, well Iguess it depends how fluent you are). Oh, and very nice embossed slip-case packaging, too.

There are no extras on The Hidden 2 disc. C'est la vie.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
For the completist, this cannot be beat. Somebody with a real love of these films did this, this was definitely no jobsworth trying to clear their desk of work. I enjoyed this a great deal, being as the first film came out when I was definitely the target audience - it hit the mark, let me tell you, and still does today. If you haven't seen The Hidden and what I've written piques your interest, I recommend you rectify the situation immediately - you won't be disappointed. If you're already a fan of the film, I can't imagine a better package existing out there.

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