The Hidden

THE HIDDEN. 1987

Director: Jack Sholder

THE HIDDEN II: THE SPAWNING. 1994

Director: Seth Pinsker

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl



In The Hidden, an alien police officer has tracked an extraterrestrial criminal to Earth. The space-cop has taken up residence in Kyle MacLachlan's body. Because the space-cop needs access to law enforcement tools on earth, the body he has selected works for the FBI. He teams up with an earth cop who at first does not suspect his new partner is not entirely of this earth.

Also because he is a moral alien, he reanimates an already dead FBI agent, then has to cope with certain difficulties in sustaining the corpse long enough to capture the demonic extraterrestrial, who has no similar qualms about inhabiting a series of human bodies after first killing them, & using up human after human like cheap shirts.

The space cop suffers migraine headaches as a side-effect of residing in a body no one knows is dead. There are wonderful bits of humor as the space cop adapts to his situation on earth, & violent black humor as the space criminal adapts to maximum exploitation of earthlings. But it's also a film with a real sense of awe, & when we see the actual physical natures of the two bodysnatching aliens, they're pretty shocking visual contrasts symbolizing their moral contrasts.

The film's intelligence does not mean it skimps on the oh-so-enjoyable exploitation aspect, as the evil alien's general taste for gore & rock 'n' roll keeps the exploitation level amped up. To a large extent, the good alien provides the film with cause for intelligence, & the evil alien provides the cinematic excuses for ultra violence. Both aliens seem to have had a predilection toward inhabiting male bodies. But when the evil alien gets into a stripper's body, when it first experiences what it means to be an earth female, the story goes-for-broke in horrific sexuality gone totally psycho.

MacLachlan's fine, restrained performance has an eerie melancholic sweetness about it. His perfect casting along with an excellent script make this, quite simply, a superior science fiction story very well made. That it's not a more widely known & appreciated film is a little bewildering as on its merits it may well deserve to be regarded a classic of B horror/science fiction.

The Hidden IIThe Hidden II attempts to reduplicate the same sweety-pie kind of hero that was played by Kyle MacLachlan in the tremendously good original, though it isn't Kyle so the character doesn't work as well.

It is amazing how much of the original they use in the opening "catch-you-up-to-date" scenes, which must run a full 15 minutes & gives us enough of Kyle that he practically functions as a co-star, & edits in about three minutes of new material that justifies the sequel.

Once they're done with the recycled footage, the acting takes a dramatic dive in quality for the rest of the film. It's not terrible as cheapo sci-fi-horror goes, but it's trivial & unconvincing when compared to the original.

The evil alien killed in the first movie turns out to have been female, & left eggs behind. The good alien, pretty much stranded on earth attempting to live a human life indefinitely, must take up the chase anew when the eggs start hatching.

When in the original the good alien takes on the idenity of an FBI agent & teams up with a policeman, it becomes a fairly rational crime-caper with psychopath-from-outer-space. It really seemed the space-cop worked it out beforehand & proceded rationally to capture the space-criminal. But in the sequel the good alien is not nearly as smart though in theory he's the same entity in a new body.

He teams up with a gorgeous chick just so there's a babe on-screen & they have meaningful conversations like "You wait here" "No way, I'm coming" as prelude to each encounter with the Evil Aliens.

There's no reason to believe the gorgeous chick wouldn't be killed first time out the door & the alien has about as much logical likelihood of tracking the alien spawn as would Wallace Cleaver -- except he accidentally does get the job done even not knowing diddly about squat that goes on on the earth.

Our space-cop is also a complete klutz who keeps dropping his weapon without which he's a helpless dweeb. Still, one gets the impression the author/director loved the original film & wanted to do justice to it with an apropos sequel; it's just that the author was a talentless boob who failed at his intention.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl



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