Plot: A strange crime wave has hit Los Angeles, as violent crimes are being committed in large numbers, but not by the usual criminal element. The citizens behind these crimes seem to be normal, quiet folks with no criminal record, but the horrific nature of their actions make that tough to believe. Detective Beck (Michael Nouri) is baffled by the random nature of the crime sprees, but he is even more confused when FBI Agent Gallagher (Kyle MacLachlan) arrives to assist in the cases. Gallagher seems to have insight on the crimes, but is cryptic and as such, Beck feels like an outsider in his own cases and keeps his guard up. As a pattern seems to emerge between these seemingly random, unrelated cases, a dark, horrific potential surfaces. What is causing these ordinary people to turn to violent crime and is it just coincidence, or is there some kind of darker presence at work?
Entertainment Value: The Hidden has fast cars, hard rock, and a murderous alien, all you could ask from an 80s sci/fi thriller. The narrative here is solid, if a little no frills, but the movie compensates with copious amounts of action and alien carnage, not to mention two terrific leads. The movie loads up on car chases and shoot outs, with more impressive set pieces than you might expect, given the film’s modest resources. A fast start gets us in the middle of the action, then the movie rarely slows down after, so The Hidden is quite a brisk, fun ride. I love the opening chase, especially how it ends, but this movie has effective action scenes throughout. But it also doesn’t ignore the sci/fi side of the coin, with some eerie, often gross body transfers and a capable sci/fi narrative that is simple, but well handled. Kyle MacLachlan and Michael Nouri lead the cast and turn in terrific performances, especially MacLachlan, who is quite unsettling at times. But the cast is deeper than just the leads, with Clu Gulager, Danny Trejo, Claudia Christian, Lin Shaye, Ed O’Brien, and others in supporting roles. So from effective action to a deep, impressive cast to a fun sci/fi narrative, The Hidden hits all the right notes and earns a high recommendation.
No nakedness, but we do have Claudia Christian in a wild shoot out, wearing only her stripper attire. On the blood side, we have a wealth of splashy gun shots, as well as some alien based creepiness. The alien creature is slime coated messiness, so seeing it slip from one person’s mouth to another is quite gross. I loved the visual effects used to bring the alien elements to life, especially when one of the tentacles poked out of a guy’s arm, sick stuff. So not a haven of gore and bloodshed, but a good amount of squibs and some fun alien goopiness. The action scenes are well crafted, with fun chases and some simple, but effective shoot outs. These set pieces seem a little basic now, but are so much more dynamic than the green screen, CGI nonsense that passes for action scenes these days, so win for The Hidden. The dialogue is fine and mostly well written, but the focus is more on the action and atmosphere than in depth narrative. A few humorous lines are here, as well as some fun cop talk, but not a lot of memorable, quotable lines. But when you have MacLachlan wielding a flamethrower, talk is cheap, right? On the craziness side, the alien elements score a point, while the wild chases and shoot outs rack up another, but this one never gets too over the top.
Overall Insanity: 2/10