The Hidden was directed by a guy known as Jack Sholder, you might know him as the guy who directed A Nightmare on ElmStreet 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985), a very entertaining Nightmare on Elm Street film filled with its fare share of memorable moments, like the famous Krueger quote: “you have the body and I have the brain”. Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge was a very successful horror film, so of course, Sholder was given a second chance to direct a theatrical release and thus, we got The Hidden (1987) which by the way I have to say is an extremely entertaining action sci-fi hybrid, which the director himself categorizes as his best film.
This is the story of an alien race that thrives on sensory input, if it likes something, it takes it, it does it. In the case of this alien, he likes sports cars, girls and heavy metal and he will do anything to get these things. The one problem is that he can’t be caught because he goes around jumping from body to body, so you never know who he will look like. Like Night of the Creeps (1986) or Slither (2006), the creepy crawlies in The Hidden are the kind of slimy critters that will crawl in through your mouth and control your body from within. Thankfully, there’s a “good alien” who has come to stop this greedy sensation glutton, can it be stopped?
Again I am faced with yet another action film from the 80’s that shows me what real action films were like. It has that high violence quotient that you just don’t find in today’s action films; today’s action films? Yeah right, what a joke. There’s no such thing. Sure Furious 6 (2013) is bucket loads of fun, but it all feels either too far fetched, or like a computer animated film with little tangibility to it. You see the cars blow up and it’s great fun, but in the end you know it’s all a lot of computer generated wizardry. Not so with films like The Hidden, where the action happens on camera in all its explosive glory. Speaking of the violence factor in The Hidden, it’s pretty high. The film starts out with this cool as hell chase sequence that involves a red Lamborghini going through town crashing everything in its way and killing pedestrians along the way. I mean, this alien is so vicious that he doesn’t think about it twice before blowing away ten cops to get through, he’ll do it, he doesn’t care. Which of course amusing because rarely do you see a character that solves everything by simply blowing people out of the way without the slightest hint of fore thought or remorse; the alien just does it. I like how the film addresses the issue of instant gratification, how the ‘me’ generation of the 80’s only lived for getting what they wanted as fast as they could get it. These issues are still relevant today, I’d say today’s generation is like that, only amplified a thousand fold.
Though this film is all about slimy aliens that invade our bodies to control us, it doesn’t focus so much on special effects, in fact, we see the alien briefly, only twice in the film. What’s really cool about this movie is the action, which is practically none stop. Expect a lot of Uzi’s and shotguns being fired. Uzi’s were super popular in 80’s action films, these mini machine guns popped up a lot in films like Invasion U.S.A. (1985) and Cobra(1986), and we see a couple of them here. Trust me when I say that a lot of fire arms are fired on this movie! If the alien can get his hands on it, he’ll shoot it. Even bazookas are fired here! This movie is an onslaught of violence! In that sense it reminded me a lot of The Terminator (1984) a film that I feel influenced this one a whole lot. In fact, it has a very similar scene in which the villain enters a police station and starts blowing away police men. The overall structure of The Hidden is almost exactly that of The Terminator. It’s a film about a nearly unstoppable villain with no remorse, no emotion, it will kill without hesitation.
This film is very 80’s, it’s filled with a lot of cliché’s that we used to see a lot in films of this era. For example, there’s a high speed chase sequence and wouldn’t you know it, these two guys are carrying a huge piece of glass across the street? And of course the car has to drive through it and smash it into a million pieces! Since the alien loves heavy metal/rock and roll, we get lots of 80’s rock and roll tunes throughout the entire film; there are a lot of Concrete Blonde tunes on this film. Another thing that marks the era of The Hidden is this cool scene where the alien walks into a music store and starts stealing cassettes because cd’s where not invented yet? The posters on the wall are all of bands from the era (I spotted one for R.E.M.) also, the alien carry’s a boom box on his shoulders! Not to mention the clothes that some of the characters wear…and the cars they drive. This movie oozes eighties! So anyhow’s The Hidden was a moderate success, it made about 10 million bucks on a half that budget, so of course a sequel was made, but with an entirely different creative team. It was directed by a guy called Seth Pinsker, but don’t ask me who he is or what he’s done. He hasn’t directed anything after this, and with only a few short films and television work under his belt, he doesn’t have much of a career as a director. I guess this was as far as he went as a filmmaker.
This is the kind of sequel that starts off exactly where the previous one left off, so it does have a level of continuity to it. There’s a difference between the two films though, first off, while the first was a very 80’s film, this sequel was made in 1993, so it no longer has that 80’s vibe going for it, and you can actually feel the difference. There’s a scene where the alien walks into a nightclub/rave type of deal, and everyone is dressed with the 90’s fashions, which is also cool to revisit, it reminded me of a C and C Music Factory music video or something. Another difference between the first film and the this one is that it focuses a whole lot more on showing us the aliens, only thing is that they don’t look a heck of a lot like the ones we saw in the original film, but we do see a lot of them because this time around the alien doesn’t just want instant gratification, he also wants to procreate.
Sadly, what we get with this sequel is more of the same, almost exact same sequences throughout the whole film. The bad alien needs a car, he steals it! He wants a boom box he takes it! The good alien doesn’t know what it’s like to be human, so the girl shows him; oh man is it just me or is this sequel complete snores ville? It’s the same thing all over again. The thing that sets this sequel apart the most is that instead of playing out like a buddy cop movie like the first one did, it instead decides to go the way of John Carpenter’s Starman (1985) and suddenly turns into a love story between an alien and a human. While watching this movie I also got flashbacks from yet another John Carpenter film, namely, The Thing (1982), cause there’s this sequence that involves a dog, an alien and a bunch of slimy tentacles.
So anyways, what we get here is not a very original sequel, it’s essentially the same movie, only instead of getting lots of guns and violence, we get a love story and less violence. But more aliens. I have to say that it does add a bit more to the story by explaining to us a little more about the aliens and their home world, I liked how they compared the good aliens to angels and the bad aliens to demons and their home world to heaven, but if I had to give you an ultimatum about this movie, it would be that I only recommend it if you’re absolutely freaking bored and have nothing better to watch, or if you want to see a bit more of the same. While the original is a good action sci-fi, the sequel is a straight to video cheap-o cash in, yet still, for a straight to video release, you could do a whole lot worse.
The Hidden (1985): 4 out of 5
The Hidden 2 (1993): 3 out of 5