Science-Fiction Thriller Reveals Some 'Hidden' Talents

"The Hidden" is one of those very good, moderately budgeted and marketed pictures that very few people got to see during its rather brief release.

In this sci-fi thriller, a police detective (Michael Nouri) tries to understand why a few normal, seemingly unrelated people go bananas. They develop a craving for mega-decibel hard-rock music, stealing and driving hazardously. They also have a tendency to kill anyone who makes even the slightest objection to their behavior. And these almost superhuman individuals are not easily stopped.

As luck would have it, an FBI agent (Kyle MacLachlan) with an intense interest in these same types of people and events arrives in town. The local folk, typically, are uncooperative. He's told to bug off. Yet he persists.

This FBI guy seems to have an odd understanding of the events; the reason why becomes clearer once he confesses that he's really an alien law enforcement officer tracking a nasty alien convict. The convict, he thinks, may somehow be behind all the strange goings on in town.

Aside from the overall production quality, there are three keys to this film being such great fun: the terrific premise, the special effects and a very good story that is not only clever but has a real emotional center and gives the film its heart. The typically detached MacLachlan is perfectly cast as the FBI alien. Nouri and co-stars Clu Gulager and Ed O'Ross each lend strong performances.

As with "Alien," the alien is so well done as a special effect that there is no doubt in your mind that it's possibly out there somewhere. It's too bad that this film, which was only in theaters for a couple of weeks back in 1984, was not given more time to build an audience. Just taken as an action film, it's better than most. For science fiction, it's outstanding.

"The Hidden" (1984), directed by Jack Sholder. 98 minutes. Rated R. New Line Cinema.

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