Jack Sholder and Bob Hunt‘s** The Hidden (’87) was easily the greatest and the weightiest New Line exploitation release of the ’80s. Because it had a great undercurrent. On the surface The Hidden (originally titled Hidden) was a lunatic sci-fi horror comedy about a slimey bug alien that takes over a series of human hosts, turning them into greedy heavy-metal freaks with a lust for hot cars, high speeds and ultra-violence.
What The Hidden was really serving, of course, was a greed-decade metaphor that was just as observant in terms of social portraiture as Oliver Stone‘s Wall Street (released the same year and less than two months after The Hidden opened on 10.22.87) or even for that matter Martin Scorsese‘s The Wolf of Wall Street (’13), which audiences loved for its crazy behaviors and excessive indulgences when it came along 26 years later.
Note to Quentin Tarantino and New Beverly Programmers: Wall Street and The Hidden on a double-bill someday…please.
The Hidden‘s idea was that something coarse and greedy and ravenous was spreading across the culture, but that it didn’t come from American family values or from the deregulatory capitalist free-for-all that Ronald Reagan had unleashed or from our own educational teachings or beliefs, but from an alien life form. Which of course let America off the hook…the monster made us do it! A brilliant concept that captured or reflected the current of the mid ’80s (written during the boom years and released only three days after Black Monday of 1987), and yet offered as urban escapism. Because it hid all of its social assessments and reflections inside exploitation tropes (car chases, bank robberies, shoot-outs, corrupt politicians).
This kind of slam-bang action film (“I want the car!”) comes along once in a blue moon, if that. The best horror thrillers are always the ones that try to double-track by “saying” something about the times from which they’ve come. I’m not saying this kind of film isn’t being attempted these days. Maybe they are. Examples?
I just bought an HD copy on Amazon.
** “Bob Hunt” was Jim Kouf‘s screenwriting alter ego. Why he chose to not take credit for The Hidden screenplay is a mystery to me.