Friday, September 30, 2016

Cult Movie Theatre: The Hidden (1988)

MacLachlan as Agent Gallagher.
(Spoiler alert!)
After a man robs a bank in broad daylight, he smiles at the security camera and shoots several people. He then climbs into his stolen Ferrari, cranks up some rock 'n' roll, and evades the police after a high-speed chase. Detective Tom Beck's investigation turns up little useful information. Neighbors describe Jack DeVries, L.A.'s latest notorious criminal, as a "nice, quiet man--a real gentleman."

Fortunately, Beck (Michael Nouri) gets some unexpected help when Seattle FBI agent Lloyd Gallagher (Kyle MacLachlan) turns up and claims he's been pursuing DeVries. There's something odd about Gallagher, who confides to Beck that DeVries killed his partner (which causes the detective to naturally wonder why the FBI left Gallagher on the case). However, there's no denying that Gallagher knows his man--assuming that the criminal really is a man.

Nouri and MacLachlan.
The Hidden is one of the many buddy action films that appeared in the 1980s following the success of 48 HRS. As you may have surmised, the twist here is that one of the cops is an alien and he's pursuing a criminal of his own species. The second twist is that--with an obvious nod to John Carpenter's The Thing--the extraterrestrial criminal uses human bodies as hosts. Its ability to move from one human to another obviously makes tracking it difficult. (Adding to the complexity, the creature can only be killed by a special weapon when traveling between human hosts!)

Claudia Christian as the alien in one of
its many "hosts."
An unexpected sense of humor underlies The Hidden and elevates it from similar sci-fi action fare. The alien criminal has a penchant for guns and sport cars, particularly red Ferraris. It also enjoys grooving to loud rock music, which accounts for the film's lengthy soundtrack featuring songs by groups like The Truth, Hunters & Collectors, and Concrete Blonde (who scored a Top 20 hit with "Joey" in 1990).

However, the success of any "buddy film" depends on the actors playing the buddies. Nouri does a nice job playing the dedicated cop who's still a family man (Beck actually calls his wife when he's late for dinner). MacLachlan channels the offbeat personality that served him well in earlier efforts like Blue Velvet (1987) and later ones such as the 1990-91 Twin Peaks TV series. In fact. it's easy to recognize Special Agent Gallagher as a forerunner to Agent Dale Cooper in Twin Peaks. MacLachlan and Nouri play off each effectively and their dogged pursuit of their adversary keeps The Hidden from becoming too broad.

The Hidden was a modest boxoffice hit, but proved to be a popular video rental. As a result, a so-so sequel, The Hidden II, appeared in 1993. It starred Kate Hodge as Beck's daughter. Horror fans may remember her from the amusing 1990-91 cult TV series She-Wolf of London (aka Love and Curses).


  1. I saw this one on VHS when it first came out and lobbied my sci-fi club for months to get it for our monthly movie night. It was a success when I was finally able to convince them.

    1. I knew nothing about it when I first it...and was very pleasantly surprised.

  2. I haven't seen this. I must have been busy that week. The 80s were my busy time. As a Nouri fan I'll have to check it out. Thanks.

  3. I remember seeing this almost 30 years ago. Kyle MacLachlan plays quirky quite well.

  4. A somewhat "hidden" gem.