While the modern world enjoys Kyle MacLachlan in his current turn as Dale Cooper in “Twin Peaks,” I decided to celebrate his cult status with the classic The Hidden.
Recommended to me by several film friends earlier this year, Jack Sholder’s taut action-horror film features MacLachlan as young FBI agent Lloyd Gallagher on the hunt for an alien parasite that can and needs to move between hosts to survive. Gallagher is partnered with Michael Nouri’s Tom Beck, a seasoned LAPD homicide detective.
This was MacLachlan’s third turn following his roles in Dune and the wild cult-classic Blue Velvet. Here, he relies more on his ability to emote rather than speak, carrying a certain amount of stoicism throughout the majority of film. Nouri’s Beck, a family man, is very much the voice of the duo, echoing the audience’s sentiments of mistrust, concern and intrigue. Nouri’s performance was nominated for a Best Actor Saturn Award and he won in the same category at Sitges.
Jack Sholder, who had just directed A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 was an appropriate choice here. His style is open and head-on, going for mostly wider shots. Under the pen name of Bob Hunt, Jim Kouf’s (Money Monster) script does an excellent job of building a rich history of each character, layering in the mystery and intrigue. Kouf disassociated himself from the project when New Line refused to allow him to direct the film. Sholder stepped in to re-work some of the script moving it from a purely action film to an action-horror hybrid.
Many of the characters are on screen for a short while only to have their personalities altered when the parasite consumes their bodies. Kouf’s script and Sholder’s direction make for an effective transition in each supporting character. Of the supporting characters, William Boyett’s Jonathan Miller, who’s imposing presence was the most fun to watch. The always scintillating Claudia Christian is a tease here. She may be on screen for only a few minutes, but they were a blast. A young Richard Brooks, who would go on to play the assistant D.A. in early seasons of “Law and Order” gives a very convincing performance. I had to rewind a certain sequence twice to catch Danny Trejo’s cameo.
The most surprising turn in the entire movie is Ed O’Ross’s Detective Cliff Willis. Mr. O’Ross is normally known for playing “rough n’ tumble” characters and here his imposing nature works for both approaches. His character’s fate is revealed if you’ve seen the one-sheet poster, but that’s the charm of the story: you never know who will be consumed next.
Taking advantage of the Halloween weekend, New Line opened The Hidden in 1,045 screens on October 30, 1987, taking in $2.5 million its first weekend. It would remain in the Top 10 the following weekend, before falling off eventually taking in $9.7 million domestically. Though it did not run very long in theaters, it’s resurgence on home video and television has certainly elevated the film to cult-classic status.
Running a tight 96 minutes, Jack Sholder’s The Hidden holds up after all these years. The themes it explores are still as relevant as ever and Michael Nouri and Kyle MacLachlan leave a lasting impression.