Directed by Jack Sholder. US. 1987. R. 96 minutes. Warner. 35mm.
Fri., January 8, 2016
“Made by New Line at a time when the studio was known primarily for its early John Waters comedies and the “Nightmare On Elm Street” series, 1987’s “The Hidden” is a crackerjack low-budget science-fiction thriller that has attracted a richly deserved cult following. The story of a benevolent body-shifting alien (Kyle MacLachlan, whose otherworldly blankness is employed effectively) who travels to Earth to hunt down an evil body-hopping alien with the help of a tough human detective (Michael Nouri), “The Hidden” is a textbook example of how a B-movie can transcend its origins and budgetary constraints through craft, imagination, and all-around resourcefulness. Shifting genres almost as often as its villain changes bodies, it’s at once an enormously effective thriller, a smart exercise in science fiction, an exciting action movie, and a kinetic dark comedy. Screenwriter Jim Kouf’s script isn’t overwhelmingly original, but it does what good B-movies do: It builds on and synthesizes its obvious influences (“Invasion Of The Body Snatchers,” “The Terminator,” “Alien”) into an entertaining, fast-moving, cohesive whole. With the benefit of hindsight, “The Hidden’s” villainous extraterrestrial chameleon emerges as the ultimate ’80s consumer run amok: a being of pure desire with a taste for the finer things (it makes a point of stealing only expensive sports cars) that lives for the moment and doesn’t care about the consequences of its actions. …”The Hidden” is the sort of modest genre film that today would probably go direct-to-video. That’s a shame, …[because it’s] refreshing and worthwhile.” (Nathan Rabin, The A.V. Club)