Night #22: The Hidden (1987)

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(Yes that’s a foreign poster, but look how awesome it is)

A flame-thrower man, can you believe it? Patrol picked this up off some homeboy on the street.”

Directed By: Jack Sholder

As noted, the 80s were arguably the worst decade for cinema. This could be because nothing was ever going to top the 70s, when artists had free reign (And studios learned what that entailed). With the advent of the blockbuster in the previous decade, the studios took hold and pulled a tight leash over anyone who had dare been touting their artistic ambition just a few years previously. Francis Ford Coppola for example had gone from The Godfather to One From The Heart in just a couple of years.

So while conventional wisdom is that the 80s were largely pretty terrible, it was the decade that mid to low budget movies could still flourish, and something like The Hidden could be made.

I think you’d be hard pressed to find a better opening scene anywhere. In it, we watch grainy security footage as a man robs a bank, then when he heads outside to his sports car he cranks out some luscious 80s metal and leads the police on a high-speed pursuit, managing to take the time to swerve right into a man on a wheelchair. It eventually ends in a Vanishing Point-esque shootout and while the man should be dead he manages to make it to the hospital where he he stretches his jaw wide and a catfish shaped creature crawls out of it and into another man’s mouth.

See, told you it was a great opening.

We meet Detective Beck, your prototypical 80s cop lead in a movie like this. Good looking, swaggering, but a family man too so you know he’s sensitive. Quickly enough he’s pared up with Lloyd Gallagher from the FBI who reveals he’s been hunting the same man. Though…something is off about Lloyd, not least of all because he’s played by Kyle MacLachlan tapping into that weirdness before he’d use it a couple of years later in Twin Peaks.

Anyway, it turns out our villain is an alien who likes taking over new bodies and causing mayhem while listening to the finest metal and punk that the 80s had to offer. Well that and shooting people. Oh and driving fast cars. They also take over the body of a stripper and her body double at one point, oh and hilariously a dog.

Technically more Sci-Fi than it is Horror, The Hidden is a blast, and sadly underseen. Ask most people, even those who claim the 80s were the best because that’s when Gremlins and The Goonies came out, and chances are they’ve never heard of it. That’s a damn shame too because they certainly don’t make movies like this anymore. It’s just straight ahead no nonsense propulsion, with brief moments for some sombreness before moving on again. It’s efficient, and if there’s one thing I’ve really appreciated in the times I’ve been doing this it’s that people knew when to trim the fat from a story. I don’t know when we decided that everything should be pushing two hours but here we are, somehow allowing them to get away with making Pirates Of The Caribbean almost three hours long.

Basically what I’m saying is watch The Hidden. It shouldn’t be too hard to get a hold of and it’s a perfect weekend movie. And it deserves to be seen.

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