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Old 10-10-2004, 03:28 PM
 
Scored: 10
Views: 7,070
Default Hidden, The




Reviewer: Styx
Review Date: June 23, 2000

Released by: New Line
Release date: April 18, 2000
MSRP: $24.98
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes | P&S: Yes



An action/science fiction film made in the late 80s, The Hidden, directed by Jack Sholder, is a film very reminiscent to John Carpenter's The Thing and the Invasion of the Body Snatchers films. New Line Cinema has released The Hidden on DVD and it's always a treat to have them release a horror film, since you know the quality has to be good.

The Story

inline Image A seemingly routine day at the bank turns to anarchy as a shotgun wielding maniac kills off innocent bystanders and runs off with bags of money in hand. The police pursue him as he escapes in his car while trying his best to mow down various people and objects that get in his way. The glorious car chase ends when the robber runs into a police blockade and a dozen police officers with shotguns open fire. The robber is finally brought down and miraculously survives the barrage of bullets. He's taken to St. Joseph's Hospital where he's put in intensive care, but his prognosis is poor and he's not expected to make it through the night. Detective Tom Beck (Michael Nouri) is fine with that and feels the robber, Jack Devries, got what he deserved and shouldn't be allowed to live. But there's more at work here then meets the eye.

inline Image Back at the police station, Detective Beck is assigned to an FBI agent Lloyd Gallagher (Kyle MacLachlan), who was tracking down Jack Devries for reasons unknown. Meanwhile at St. Joseph's Hospital Jack Devries mysteriously awakens. It seems Devries was acting as a host to a creature not of this Earth and with its body now dying the creature needs to make a quick exit. It slips into another intensive care patient, Mr. Miller, and escapes from the hospital. Detective Beck and agent Gallagher begin to work together on tracking down Mr. Miller, who's now become a murder suspect after robbing a local record store. Agent Gallagher tells Beck that Miller is linked to Devries and that the two "change" their identities. Beck, who thinks Gallagher is holding back information from him, finds the recent incidents too hard to swallow, but tags along anyway.

inline Image After an intense shootout between agent Gallagher and the current host of the alien it's clear to Beck that supernatural forces are involved. Gallagher finally comes clean with Beck and tells him that he's actually an Alien from another world who's hunting down the creature responsible for the recent acts of violence as well as the murder of his partner, wife and daughter. Beck can't believe Gallagher's story at first but is soon convinced otherwise and together they must thwart this seemingly unkillable fiend.

inline Image The Hidden is one of those great films I've seen by chance. I remember renting it quite a long time ago and became an instant fan. I love films like The Thing and the Body Snatcher films because I like the unsettling tension of not knowing who is really human and who has more about them than meets the eye. This film doesn't play the who's human and who's not game and the film never makes an attempt to conceal who is under control of the alien, but the premise is almost the same. The Hidden was made early on in New Line Cinema's timeline a studio, which was literally made possible from the success of its Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. It's not uncommon to find a lot of gems in New Line's vaults since they were in a position of taking chances with films that other big studios would probably never have considered, and The Hidden may very well be one of them.

The Hidden has a fantastic opening and a totally awesome car chase right at the beginning of the film, which kick-starts the action into high gear. After which the film develops into a cat and mouse game between detective Beck & Galiger and the alien as it assumes the bodies it finds adequate and leaves plenty of dead bodies and wreckage in its wake. The Hidden is heavy on action and it a ccomplishes those scenes very well considering the low budget nature of the film. Director Jack Shoulder is a competent director and although he's no John Woo the action scenes and gunfights are pulled off rather well and stylish. The acting is pretty good for the budget and Kyle MacLachlan and Michael Nouri make a great 'buddy cop' team.

The Hidden is part science fiction, part action film and part buddy cop film and it does all three very well and it's one of the better science fiction films to come out of the late 80s. I highly recommend it.

Image Quality

inline Image New Line Cinema presents The Hidden letterboxed at 1.85:1 in an excellent 16x9 enhanced transfer. This is a fine transfer from the folks at New Line but there are some problems worth noting. The transfer is very sharp and detailed with great definition and color resolution. The transfer is also nice and clear with only a small amount of grain showing up in a few scenes mostly dimly lit interiors. The print used for the transfer was in excellent shape with hardly any signs of nicks, scratches or speckling. Colors looked great and flesh tones appeared warm and natural. Blacks were also solid and dead on with great shadow detail. The transfer, however, seems somewhat unstable and subtly shakes up and down throughout the entire film. It's not a big problem, but it could become a distraction if you pay attention to it.

Overall this is a good job done by New Line and Laser Pacific, who as always provide a very smooth and film-like image thanks to top notch authoring.

Sound

For this DVD release of The Hidden, New Line has done a new Dolby Digital 5.1 track and the results are pretty good. Though bass is a little wanting at times and dialogue sounded thin the soundstage was fairly active with good support from the rear speakers and good directional effects. I have to be honest, I'm not to keen on the film's score, but it sounds fairly good here. Also included is the film's original mono soundtrack.

Supplemental Material

inline Image Here's where I'm a bit disappointed in this New Line Cinema release. A more comprehensive Special Edition of The Hidden was released on laserdisc in January of 1996 by Lumivision. It seems for this DVD release New Line decided to dump some of those supplements in favor of tagging on a Pan & Scan transfer. Anyone who's read some of my reviews knows my stance on Pan & Scan. Of course I don't mind studios putting Pan & Scan transfers in addition to widescreen ones, but when this comes at a cost of extras it becomes very irritating. Thus is the case with The Hidden - the laserdisc supplements - such as scenes from the director's shooting script, original screenplay (including the original ending) and a few others - have gotten the ax and all that remains is the Jack Sholder/Tim Hunter commentary, the theatrical trailer and the special effects production footage.

inline Image The audio commentary with Director Jack Sholder and Tim Hunter is fairly good. Sholder talks about the original opening of the film and how the idea was abandoned and replaced with the opening that exists in The Hidden now. Jack Sholder also talks a lot about the scenes, including the excellent car chase that opens the film as well as the effects shots and how they were filmed. Jack Sholder also goes over the actors and their characters including Kyle MacLachlan and his portrayal of Gallagher. Overall the commentary is pretty good with only a few gaps here and there.

The special effects production footage is pretty cool and feature shots of the unused alien creature. There are also animation tests for Loyd's weapon as well as tests of the transfer between Loyd and Beck. In addition to those, there are some other creature effects of various alien models against a blue screen. The footage also features commentary with director Jack Sholder and Tim Hunter. This DVD also features the film's theatrical trailer, which is 16x9 enhanced and looks quite good. Finally there are three "Easter Egg" trailers located in Kyle Maclachlan and Jack Sholder's filmographies. The trailers are for Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me, One Night Stand and Nightmare on Elm Street 2 respectively.

Final Thoughts

I have to say I'm disappointed with this release from New Line Cinema. Their decision to bump off the extras that were present on the laserdisc version in favor of providing a shitty pan & scan transfer is disturbing. I don't like that...not one bit. New Line needs to realize when they market these cult films their audience want to see them in their original ratio not s ome hack job abomination and that the extra two hours worth of data should've been used for added value. New Line does provide great picture and sound, but I'm afraid most people with the laserdisc version are going to shun this release, and it shouldn't be so.

Rating

Image Quality B+
Sound B+
Supplements B+

Technical Info.
  • Running Time - 1 hour 38 minutes
  • Color
  • Rated R
  • 1 Disc
  • 21 Chapter Stops
  • English Dolby Digital 5.1
  • English Dolby Digital Mono
Supplements
  • Audio Commentary with Director Jack Sholder and Tim Hunter
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Special Effects Production Footage
  • "Easter Egg" Trailers
Other Pictures

 

 

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