The Hidden (1987) / Sci Fi-Action

MPAA Rated: R for strong violence, gore, sexuality, and language
Running Time: 96 min.

Cast: Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Nouri, Ed O'Ross, Clarence Felder, Clu Gulager, William Boyett, Claudia Christian, Katherine Cannon, Chris Mulkey, Richard Brooks, Larry Cedar, Lin Shaye
Director: Jack Sholder
Screenplay: Jim Kouf
Review published January 4, 2006

One of the better b-movie treats of the 1980s, The Hidden lives up to its name by being a hidden gem on video store shelves.  While not among the seminal classics of its era, like The Terminator and Aliens, this is a film is just as fun, with solid laughs, terrific action, and an interesting storyline to follow.  Looking at it today, it seems almost like a precursor to the smash hit videogame, "Grand Theft Auto III", glorifying the insidious love of fast cars, loose women, hot music, explosive weaponry, and unbridled hedonism.  It may be low in budget, but it's high in fast-paced action, and proved to be influential in its own right in sci fi/horror buddy cop movies for years to come.

Michael Nouri (Flashdance, Carman: The Champion) stars as LAPD detective Tom Beck, who takes down a bank robber gone berserk in one of the bloodiest shootouts in department history.  What Beck doesn't know is that the culprit is actually being controlled by a parasite within his body that loves danger, money, speeding, and good ol' rock-n-roll, and it can't be killed by normal means, and moves from host to host whenever the body it is in is about to expire.  Enter FBI agent Lloyd Gallagher (MacLachlan, Blue Velvet), on assignment from Seattle to help apprehend the perpetrator(s) on a killing spree the likes of which have the LA cops stymied.  Gallagher seems to hold the key as to why normally good people are going bad all of a sudden, but he's not letting on why.

Although illogical in many respects, the action comes at a fever pitch, never letting you have a second to question some of the film's more implausible moments before moving on to the next locale and set of wild circumstances.  This is quite possibly the best work in director Jack Sholder's erratic career, coming right off of an embarrassingly hokey experience with A Nightmare on Elm Street 2; it's hard to reconcile the fact that they were directed by the same man. 

Also impressive is the chemistry of the two leads, with Michael Nouri making for an effective hothead cop, and MacLachlan perfect in his role as the unemotional and mysterious stranger.  their interactions are funny, gutsy, and keep the momentum of the film going, even when it's time for a breather from the high-falutin' action pieces. 

Horror fans will find enough gory moments to keep their attention, sci-fi junkies will love it, and those looking for action will be absolutely ecstatic, as The Hidden is one fun scene after another, with moments of intelligence and thoughtfulness that is rare to find in what should have been just another z-grade knock-off.  Screenwriter Jim Kouf has made quite a career for himself scripting two of the hippest buddy cop films of the 1980s and 1990s in Stakeout and Rush Hour, but The Hidden gets the comedy and thrills mixture better than both.  For a night of great schlock cinema, The Hidden is worth finding.

-- Followed in 1994 by a woefully bad sequel, The Hidden II.

Qwipster's rating:

2006 Vince Leo