Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Hidden (Jack Sholder, 1987)

A super-sexy and more lithe than usual Claudia Christian wields a Steyr AUG and a Mossberg 500 Bullpup whilst wearing a red thong near the middle portion of the totally kick ass 1980s sci-fi action thriller, The Hidden, a staple on Citytv in the early '90s. (Quirky fun-fact: Before television was ruined by infomercials and reality shows, some channels used to show movies.) Okay, now that I got that out of the way (for me to not mention Claudia Christian, her red thong ensnared butt-crack or the sweet ass guns she fires in this movie straight out of the gate would be tantamount to treason), let me quickly take care of some industrial music-based business. When one of the senator's body guards yells, "Back against the wall now!," I thought: Hmm, that sounds strangely familiar. Where have I heard that line before? Oh, who am I kidding? I knew the line was sampled in the Front Line Assembly track "No Limit," taken from their album "Gashed Senses and Crossfire," the instant I heard it uttered. And to think, my "friends" used to tell me there were no benefits to listening to electro-industrial music.

Show me any horror or action film made during the 1980s and I'll be able to identify which electro-industrial group sampled from it within five seconds of hearing it. Yeah, I know, it's a pretty impressive talent. Though, you have to wonder, if I'm so talented, how is it possible that I haven't gotten laid since Donald Igwebuike was kicking field goals, kick offs and extra points for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? Weird.

Anyway, is this film, directed by Jack Sholder and written Jeff Kouf, a parody of '80s action movies?

In the film's opening chase sequence, a wanted criminal named Jack DeVries (Chris Mulkey), who just robbed a bank and is using a stolen black Ferrari as his getaway car, crashes it through a large pane of glass that was being carried across the street by two men. And get this, moments earlier, he crashes through some construction barriers. And to make the scene even more cliched, the construction workers frantically wave their hands in the air in a futile attempt to stop the out of control luxury sports car.

The fact that the construction workers dodged out of the way at the last minute is definitely cliched. But you'll notice that glass moving guys weren't so lucky. And as anyone who's well-acquainted with the crashing through the pane of glass gag will tell you, the guys (who are usually wearing jumpsuits) don't usually get hurt. Meaning, The Hidden is not ashamed to embrace '80s action movie cliches, but it's not afraid to ridicule them either.

Similar in the way the movie Dead Heat deftly combined the buddy cop movie with a zombie flick, The Hidden is a buddy cop movie crossed with a film about body snatching aliens who dig fast cars, adore trashy women and like to blast Concrete Blonde on their illegally obtained boomboxes.

After the aforementioned Jack DeVries is riddled with bullets and badly burned during a high speed pursuit through the streets of West Hollywood, the slug-like alien that is controlling DeVries decides to use the body of the patient lying in the bed next to him. Only problem being, the body belongs to Jonathan Miller (William Boyett),  a man with some serious gastrointestinal problems.

Since it's obvious "it" loves loud music and fast cars, it only makes sense that his first stop after leaving the hospital be a record store. Stuffing cassettes in his pockets with a reckless abandon, Mr. Miller seems somewhat out of place–you know, with him being a paunchy middle-aged man with serious gastrointestinal problems. Serious gastrointestinal problems or not, it doesn't stop him from beating the creeper-wearing record store clerk to death with his own club.

Meanwhile, back at police headquarters, Det. Tom Beck (Michael Nouri) is finishing up the paperwork for the DeVries case, when an F.B.I. agent named Lloyd Gallagher (Kyle MacLachlan) tells the detective that he's been assigned to help catch Jack DeVries. (Doesn't the F.B.I. know Jack DeVries is lying near death in the hospital?) Apparently not.

When Agent Gallagher rushes over to the hospital, it would seem that he's too late, as all he finds there is a dead Jack Devries. It would also seem that Agent Gallagher knows the thing that caused Jack DeVries go on his crime spree (he was mild-mannered family man two weeks ago) is still on the loose.

Figuring that the creature moved into the body of the patient next to him, Agent Gallagher sets his sights on Jonathan Miller. Of course, Tom Beck can't quite understand why Gallagher wants to track down Mr. Miller (he has no criminal record). In fact, from Tom Beck's perspective, none of this makes any sense.

However, when the bodies start piling up (Mr. Miller kills a few people at a Ferrari dealership), Tom Beck begins to think that Jack DeVries and Jonathan Miller might have been in cahoots. Mind you, he doesn't think they're being controlled by an intergalactic space slug, but he's getting there.

As luck would have it, one of the guys Mr. Miller kills at the Ferrari dealership happens to be a gun runner. And when Mr. Miller (using the address on his business card) goes to his office, he stumbles upon a cache of bullpup firearms.

Unfortunately, Mr. Miller's body is slowly becoming a terrible host. Hopping in his brand new red Ferrari, Mr. Miller heads the Harem Club to look for a new body.

Finally, we have Claudia Christian. Dancing on stage at the Harem Club, Claudia's Brenda Lee Van Buren might not know it yet, but her wondrous body has been selected to be the alien's next host.

Call me crazy, but I thought the outfits worn by Harem Club waitress staff were a tad on the skimpy side. (A tad?!?) Okay, they were whatever the opposite of a tad is. The point being, if I was a man who possessed genitals that were fully-functional, I would be down at the Harem Club ogling lingerie-clad goddesses and ordering Mai Tai's like a bandit every night.

The difference between what the women living on the so-called fringes of society wear on a day-to-day basis and what mainstream ladies are wearing is staggering.

The best example of this style variance can be found between the witness to the record store homicide, a.k.a. "Record Store Girl" (Jill Friedman),  and the woman who tells the alien to fuck off, a.k.a. "Rodeo Drive Girl" (Lenna Robinson).

While the Record Store Girl's ensemble is teeming with quirky flourishes, the Rodeo Drive Girl's outfit exudes nothing but staid conformity.

Just for the record, the Record Store Girl is wearing a white tutu, a black bomber jacket and black tights with white socks, and Rodeo Drive Girl is wearing a white shirt with green pants and a chunky belt.

Getting back to Claudia Christian for a minute: Since her character lives on the fringes of society, her wardrobe reflects this outsider status. Though, I thought the coin slot exposing nature of her dress was a bit much. I mean, it's fine to wear inside the Harem Club. But it isn't something to wear to the corner store. Or maybe I'm just being a prude.

Either way, the film's best moments are when Kyle MacLachlan and Michael Nouri go after Claudia Christian, who fires a Mossberg 500 Bullpup and a Steyr AUG at them during an extended chase sequence; one that culminates on the roof of a mannequin factory.

Speaking of guns, when the alien sets its sights on the body of a U.S. senator, we're treated to some excellent Uzi action. The great thing about the Uzi shoot out is that they're being used properly (in close quarters). And the people firing them, for the most part, employ obstacles as cover (most Uzi users in movies fire them wildly in wide open spaces).

Take special note when a cop, played by Law and Order's Richard Brooks, shows Kyle MacLachlan's character a flamethrower he seized during a recent bust, as it will make a significant second appearance later on in the film.

Oh, and did anyone else tear up at the end? I'm not saying I did or anything like that, I'm just asking a simple question. At any rate, I laughed, I might have cried, I saw Claudia Christian's butt-crack. Four stars. 

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