O.H.M.A.D. 4: The Hidden (1987)

thehidden

This is one of my favorite movies from when I was a kid.  When I saw it for sale at a used DVD store  a couple months ago, I instantly snapped it up.  It didn’t strike me until I started watching it, that unlike a lot of movies I liked as a kid that this one still actually holds up and there was never a doubt in my mind that it wouldn’t.  Twenty-six years after it’s release, the movie still rocks!  The film is a low-budget action/sci-fi flick (yes, I’m playing fast and loose with my criteria for O.H.M.A.D) which is about a cop named Tom Beck (Micheal Nouri, Flashdance, Touched By An Angel) who is trying to wrap his head around a string of cases of normal people turning into vicious criminals.  He is aided in his quest by enigmatic F.B.I. agent Lloyd Gallagher (Kyle MacLachlan, Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet) who tries to convince him of the truth — all of the recent psychopathic activity is actually an evil entity from another planet!

the-hiddenThe film starts off with the credit sequence playing over bank security camera recording normal activity.  A man in a trench coat suddenly comes into the frame, though he is hardly noticeable in the normalcy of the events.  Every one is going about their daily transactions as normal until the man in the trench coat pulls out a shot gun and opens fire into the crowd.  From this point until about the forty-five minute mark the film is running on pure adrenaline.  The evil alien lives his life like he is a character in Grand Theft Auto video game.   One of the funniest moments of his carnage involves him going into a record store with his recently acquired body of an old man who was on his latest triple by-pass surgery and beating the store clerk to death with a baton after the clerk caught him stealing cassette tapes.   The evil alien’s antics really up the entertainment value of the film.   As his pursuers get closer to him, he changes bodies to escape.  The film starts out as fun watching him because he chooses accountant types to joyride in, but his choices start to become increasingly edgy as the conflict between him and the protagonists increase.  The moment he takes over a stripper (Claudia Christian, Babylon 5, Maniac Cop 2)  is one of the funniest choices, and Christian is an awesome actress who nails the part as a heartless sexy killing machine.  The action escalates as the duo races to stop the evil from taking over the body of a senator and eventually becoming President of the United States!

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The Hidden 1A review blurb by Siskel and Ebert says “A cross between Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Terminator“.  That’s about a good of way summing it up as any.  It’s a tightly focused story that includes quite a few kick ass action scenes and car chases that are done in that 80’s action style that has yet to be duplicated.  All of the actors do a really good job, especially Nouri and MacLachlan who play off each other well.  As it turns out, Gallagher is not just an F.B.I. agent, but he is also a body hopping alien as well, who is hunting after the evil one after it killed his wife and daughter.  MacLachlan plays his character with a sense of zen and sadness.  It’s almost as if the evil alien represents the ego, and the good one represents the spirit.  The evil alien, robs, steals, and kills at will, taking what it wants by force.  The good alien is kind, gentle (to a point), and genuinely nourishing towards those he comes into contact with.  MacLachlan was a great choice for this role at this point in his career.

Pretty much everyone in this film has a long line of character acting under their belt, and quite a few of them are genre vets. Clu Gallagher (The Virginian, Return of the Living Dead, Feast I-III, Piranha 3DD) starts as Lt. Ed Flynn.   Richard Brooks, who played as Jubal Early on the cult hit Firefly and Henry McNeil in the vastly under-rated show Good vs. Evil plays a minor character named Sanchez.   In a blink and you’ll  miss him getting blown away cameo, you can briefly spot Danny Trejo.   And horror heroine Lin Shaye (Nightmare on Elm St., Insidious 1 & 2) has a brief role as the senators wife.

Director Jack Sholder redeems himself by making this film after having previously helmed A Nightmare on Elm St. 2.  Looking back over his film career, The Hidden is easily his best work, though I will freely admit I had a lot of fun with Wishmaster 2 and believe he has earned his place in Valhalla by giving us a teasingly topless shot of X-Men cutie Jubilee being examined by Emma frost in the TV film Generation X.

The_Hidden_(1987)[1]I am very glad this film was made in the 80’s due to the practical fx used for the evil alien.  It’s a gnarly looking six foot long spider-slug thing that drips out of the hosts mouth, furry legs first, then oily black body next.  In this day and age they would have used terrible CGI fx that would take me out of the movie.  Let’s face it:  as much as we love From Dusk Till Dawn, the CGI is horrible, even by 1996 standards. The FX for the creature were done by non-other than Keven Yagher, whom Sholder worked with on Nightmare 2.

There is a sequel to that came out in the early 90’s but it was released to terrible reviews, and I never bothered watching it.  Though the originals ending leaves room a bit for a sequel, however, it’s not necessary.  The original is pitch-perfect and stands on it’s own without need of franchising.

All in all, I have really enjoyed this little bit of nostalgia from my childhood and hope it brings back some fond memories for you guys, or at least makes you curious to check it out, as it is a film well worth watching.

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