It has been a frustrating week with the girlfriend, not because of any relationship strife, but because she was going out of town for the weekend. Now when this happens she typically likes to spend as much of her free time with me as she can, following me around, attempting to nestle into any open crevice on my body when I sit down, and unquestionably attempting to sabotage any of my efforts to sit down and write this column.
At this point I should also note that I have a cat named Kali. Kali and I are fast approaching our 11 year anniversary. In the past few weeks I have also worked an unusual amount of hours beyond my normal standard, resulting in my temporary absence from Kali’s daily routine. Those of you cat owners out there will know what I mean when I say she makes it perfectly clear that my recent behavior is totally unacceptable.
It really isn’t much of a fair fight, as the two of them know perfectly well how to manipulate me. Anna is typically the first wave, coming over to my computer to ask me questions or to feign interest in whatever review I am currently writing. She’ll hang on me or attempt to sit on my lap, or if she is really feeling blatant, lightly touching me on my arms or neck knowing full well I will lash out at her. Only to then feign contempt for my jerkish behavior. She will then proceed to the next room and attempt to hold a conversation with me through our wall, knowing full well I have my headphones on and can scarcely comprehend a word she is saying. And when she finally grows tired of this game she will finally settle in to play Super Mario Galaxy, content that she has received enough attention and weakened my defenses for the next wave attacks.
But this was not a typical day, as the seeds had been sown hours earlier, by my conniving cat. That morning was like most any other morning. I woke to my cat Parker firmly nestled between my legs, quite determined to immobilize me for all eternity if necessary. But it was not to be, and as I gently wrestled myself out of bed, I once again began my day with an audibly haughty rebuke from him. Soon after I headed down to the basement bathroom to partake of my morning regiment. But on this day, the females in my life are annoying the crap out of me so I can’t write day, Kali decided to follow me on my bitter journey of awakening.
Her behavior started of innocently enough. Kali followed me down the stairs, cooing the whole way. Her excitement initially was endearing, chattering away at me as she excitedly attempted to tell me of her escapades the previous evening. Chasing her felt mouse, her delicious new food, and her successful attempts at bullying poor Parker out of her favorite chair were just a smattering of what she wanted to tell me about as I prepared to enter the shower.
Kali picked up the rather disturbing habit of watching me shower when she was just a wee kitten; this would be years before I realized she was a would-be world conqueror. The behavior started out harmless enough, she would cry so much when I locked her out that I eventually came to the conclusion that if she wanted in the bathroom that badly what harm could it possibly cause. Then she started peaking through the curtain to, what I innocently assume, innocently ascertain what I was doing. Sure, if I was a cat who hated water I might wonder what would posses someone to choose to stand under a stream of water. But I like to think I’d get over the curiosity of the act at some point within the next 11 years, yet that either never occurred to Kali, or she simply enjoyed creeping the hell out of me. But on this day, the day the cats taunted me and the women annoyed me day, Kali revealed a new game she had added to her arsenal.
The hairs were standing up on my neck, which considering I was currently standing underneath an onrush of water was quite a feat. As I peeled back the curtain and peered into the room everything appeared normal. Kali was sitting in the center of the room, innocently questioning my watery decision. Ignoring her silent rebuke I went back about my business, but a few moments later I knew something strange was going on. So once again I peeled back the curtain and peered into the room, and once again Kali was innocently sitting in the room watching the shower. Only this time she had moved a few feet closer. Unsure if I was really witnessing this odd sight I shut the curtain and waited another minute and once again surveyed the room, and sure enough, Kali was now only a foot or two away from the shower. Wondering just how this game would play out I once again shut the curtain and waited a few moments before opening it again for the final time. But this time, she was gone. My curiosity piqued I began to scan the room to see where she might have run off too. But just moments later I finally saw her … peering just around the corner of the shower … watching me in that aggressively condescending way that means I’m harboring an alien parasite that wants to kill you and steal your car. I knew this to be true because on this day, the day the cats and girlfriend turned into alien drug mules day, I watched The Hidden.
For those of you that do not know, The Hidden was a relatively low budget independent sci-fi film made in 1987 starring Michael Nouri (Flashdance) and Kyle MacLachlan (Blue Velvet) as detectives trying to track down a vicious serial killer, who unbeknownst to Det. Tom Beck (Nouri) is a body hopping alien parasite who has acquired a taste for Ferrari’s and jarringly loud music. FBI investigator Lloyd Gallagher (MacLachlan) doesn’t helps matters, as he is holding back information from Beck that would prove vital to the case.
For me The Hidden has always been one of those movies that beckoned me to rent it. Alien parasites and Kyle MacLachlan are a pretty potent one-two punch, yet for whatever reason (Too quirky, too 80′s, too much Michael Nouri etc.) I never got around to renting it. As the years passed by The Hidden slowly drifted apart from my memory, never to be viewed, until now. While The Hidden was a moderately successful B-movie, with a noticeable quirky sense of humor, and a great performance by up and comer MacLachlan, it developed enough of a cult following that it even spawned a sequel. But I still couldn’t shake the notion, as I popped the movie in to my DVD player, that this could be an absolute train wreck of a movie as time rarely is kind to sci-fi films.
Lucky for me The Hidden sprints out of the starting gate with a great opening scene involving the killer (Chris Mulkey) robbing a bank and indiscriminately shooting everyone in sight, as the killing spree is captured on a security camera. Upon completion of his carnage, Jack DeVries (Mulkey) casually walks towards the camera, grins a devilish smile, and destroys it all while the opening credits roll. It’s a great opening sequence, and the film doesn’t wait a moment longer to up the thrills even more.
Following the robbery The Hidden immediately segues into a chase sequence through the city streets. While the case includes plenty of typical conventions (plate of glass being carried across the street only to be inexplicably smashed by the oncoming cars) it includes plenty of other typically unseen bits of horror, including wheelchair bound man being run over by DeVries as he attempts to evade the police. And even when the chase is concluded, the fun doesn’t stop, as DeVries attempts to flee on foot the police offer up a glorious bullet sprayed blood splattering finality to the sequence. In less then 10 minutes The Hidden had made it clear that it was not only aiming for something different then your typical sci-fi action film, but that it was squarely hitting its mark.
But the true reason to watch The Hidden is for Kyle MacLachlan’s performance. Playing an FBI agent who clearly is uncomfortable in his own skin, MacLachlan absolutely carries the film with the subtle humor his characters inevitably conveys. When you later learn that he is also hunting this killer because it killed his family and his former partner, MacLachan deftly shifts to a surreal bent of someone dealing with emotions that they have never experienced or possibly understand. Agent Lloyd Gallagher is an unlikely meaty role in what would typically be rather blasé fair, and it is a testament to MacLachlan’s performance and Jack Sholder’s (A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge) direction that they so capably render it on screen.
The Hidden is a tough movie to describe, as it is neither a horror film, a sci-fi film, nor a comedy, yet it deftly applies all three labels when they are required to further the story. And where many films can fall on their face attempting to incorporate so many differently elements into their story The Hidden is one of those rare films that becomes a better experience because it is so much more then it would initially appear to be. And while time can often ruin an effects laden film, The Hidden concentrates on a less is more approach. Using special effects as a highlight rather then as the substance, creating effects that are highly effective when finally used but by no means distracting to the film itself, and thereby lessening the chance that the film will appear dated or cheesy because of the special effects. But since the film also blatantly attempts to at times appear cheesy, the film surprisingly holds up incredibly well even 20 years later.