Monday, November 5, 2007

The Hidden 2 (1994)

Remember that movie from 1987 called The Hidden? This is a sequel to that one, not to the 2005 Michael Haneke film Hidden (Cache). That would be pretty strange if this were a sequel to that one, because this movie predates it by eleven years. Also, Haneke should probably sue because this one could be accused of seriously fucking up the continuity of his terrific film. It's french, but still terrific. Anyway, it's not a sequel to a film about horrifying voyeurism. Instead, it's a sequel to a film about space slugs that go in through your mouth and control your mind, so I guess this discussion is rendered moot.

Warning!! The paragraph directly below spoils The Hidden (1987). I'm assuming most of you have seen it because, well, it's pretty great and I can't imagine not having seen it. If you haven't, rent it now, then read on.

The Hidden is a borderline great film. Directed by Jack Sholder (Freddy's Revenge) , it stars Kyle Maclachlan (Dune) as a dectective from outer space tracking a space slug that takes over a human host, robs banks, jacks cars, listens to 1980s guitar rock, and ingests lots of drugs. The slug uses up it's human host and then moves on to a new one. Michael Nouri (Go Bots: War of the Rock Lords) costarring as earth detective Thomas Beck is also on the case. At first he thinks Maclachlan is crazy, but eventually he comes around. For the terrific finale, the slug has inhabited a presidential candidate and since these slugs have little personality, his speech consists of him repeating "I want to be President" and the idiots eat it up. Finally, he gets blowtorched by Maclachlan and the slug is zapped with a special phaser. See, the catch is, earth weapons are useless against the slugs apparently. We need an alien phaser that is callibrated to their frequency. Conveniently, the phaser is also useless against humans, so if the slug happens to jump on your shoulder your friend doesn't have to aim too carefully when shooting it off. During the finale, Beck was shot twice in the gut by the slug (based on the number of cops shot in the chest, kevlar was clearly not in vogue back in the 80s) but "saved" by Maclachlan in the hospital, at the cost of his own life. Also, a dog stole away from the crime scene with a part of the space slug. Oh, and B movie staple Clu Gulager has fun in a minor role. The end.

End Warning.

This is a pretty lazy fucking movie. I'm now referring to The Hidden 2. First of all, if you've seen the first one, you can skip the first fifteen minutes of this one because it's pretty much just a greatest hits montage of the final 30 minutes of the original. I suspect they did this so they could convince fans that Maclachlan and Nouri were in this too. No, instead we get Raphael Sbarge (Carnosaur) and Kate Hodge (Leatherface). So, with a runtime of 90 minutes, the meat of this particular story is just 75 minutes. In addition, they didn't even bother to give the main character, played by Sbarge, a name. They just called him Maclachlan because he's basically the sequel to Kyle Machlachlan's character in the first one. Maclachlan had a name in the original though. Lloyd Gallagher. To avoid confusion, I will, from now on, refer to Kyle Mclachlan as Mclachlan 1 and Rafael Sbarge as Mclachlan 2.

The movie, after the lame greatest hits intro, opens fifteen years after the original. The slugs have spawned from that dog I mentioned and have bided their time hibernating in some abandoned steel factory. Well, what are abandoned steel factories known for? I'll give you a hint. Mid 1990s. Yup, you guessed it. Raves. A few clowns are scouting out the location and immediately fall in love with it. They even plan to dub the party, "bad to the max". One of the scouts lingers behind and gets space slugged, hence the tagline "part alien. part human. And it's back for seconds".

Next, we are reintroduced to Tom Beck, who I was disappointed to learn is not really Tom Beck, nor is he Michael Nouri, who priced himself out of this picture. Tom Beck is really Maclachlan 1. So, Maclachlan 1 didn't really sacrifice himself to save Beck at the end of the first one. Instead, he just stole his body. This revelation kinda sucks. Maybe I missed something. Maybe Beck and Maclachlan 1 just occupied the same body. Anyway, Beck/Maclachlan is now played by Michael Welden (Under Siege). Apparently, there's a catch to these aliens inhabiting bodies. They rapidly age. If Maclachlan 1 was a douche, like those slugs, he could just jump into another body, but that would mean sacrificing yet another life rendering him almost as evil as those slugs. So, Beck/Maclachlan looks to be about 70 even though he's only 49. It's really not much of a distraction though because Beck/Maclachlan is only in this for a few minutes.

So, I guess when you subtract the intro plot involving Beck/Mclachlan, the real story is only about 65-70 minutes. The "real" story focuses on Beck's daughter, Juliet, who has followed in her father's footsteps and become a cop, though you'd never know from watching this film. Sbarge, as I mentioned earlier, is Mclachlan 2, the alien cop sent to finish off the slugs. See, word is they've beens spawning and are primed to take over the world. I'm not sure how that's possible. When these things mature and find a host (that would be us) all they seem to want to do is steal nice cars and listen to shitty guitar rock. Also, they eat shitty food and kill people. The idea is for Juliet and Mclachlan 2 to kill the space slugs before they're able to mature and infect people. I can think of worse ways to kill 60 minutes (if you fast forward through the rehash of part one) such as poking rusty nails into your genitals. That would kinda suck.

The acting across the board in this one is god terrible. Sbarge spends his screentime mimicking Kyle Mclaclan and, I suppose, in that regard he does a fine job. He's given a couple of amusing scenes; one where he tries to use chopsticks, and the other involving a toothbrush. Apparently, they don't have chinese food where he's from. He describes his world as "energy. light. no physical body. real, but not solid. live in spirit, but not body." Yes, that's exactly how it was written. Hodges comes across even worse, filling in for Michael Nouri. One minor improvement over the original is that Juliet and Mclachlan 2 get to engage in the carnal act, although there are some serious repercussions for Mclachlan 2 the next morning. Still, I'm glad we didn't have a scene where Nouri and Kyle Mclachlan go at it. That would just be confusing. In the original, it took a while before Nouri was convinced that Mclachlan 1 was an alien. In this one, Mclachlan 2 immediately leaves his body to prove his point to Juliet. All that character development we had to sit through in part 1 was a complete waste of time these filmmakers wisely thought. Let's get to it.

The acting in the minor roles is even worse. Thankfully, there are very few minor roles, and most of them consist of slug victims. At one point, an infected raver yells to Mclachlan 2"You couldn't hurt me if you tried!" It caused me to wonder a) if the slugs are developmentally challenged OR b) if my brother wrote the script when he was nine.

Speaking of the script, there are several plot points that caused me to wonder if the filmmakers were even working from a script or if they were just making it up as they went along. For example, when I learned that space slugs, after fully maturing, need to return to the steel factory to kill all of their non-mature siblings. It's pretty convenient that Mclachlan 2 would know this particular trait, so that he and Juliet can conveniently meet him/it there for the final act. Another thing I learned is that Mclachlan 2 and these Slugs, or "Hiddens", evolved from the same species. One now trails slime wherever it goes and is evil. The others, the Mclachlans, became spirits I guess. They both have the ability to invade host bodies. Confusingly, Mclachlan 2 has sex in this. I was under the impression that sex was evil. I think Mclachlan 2 tries to justify it by calling sex "love". We've all been there. Am I right?

This is a terrible picture, so I'll just mildly recommend it. The director, Seth Pinsker (several episodes of Eight is Enough) and his crew did very little right. The best directed scenes came at the beginning, but those were filmed by Sholder. There is one effect I liked, when a guy's chest splits open and the slug emerges. They almost won me over with this one because they employed stop motion. The movie does manage to provide us with a terrific ending, the ONE genuinely creepy moment, but then that's undercut because it's not really the ending and there's one more appallingly bad scene to go. So, these guys, these fucking lazy, unimaginative fucks, steal the best parts of The Hidden for their opening. Then they film maybe 60 or so minutes of actual story, a truly SHITTY story mind you, and somehow manage to include a shocking finish (I'm sure they blindly stumbled into that one) and THEN decide to get "ambitious" and tack on another ending?? An ending, which ruins the one good moment in this piece of shit? Here's a hint. It involves waking up.

Do yourself a favor. Check out The Hidden. If you've seen films like Fallen, Slither, or Hero of the Federation, then you've already felt its influence. The Hidden 2, on the other hand, can go away and fucking hide. Let me know if you want to borrow it.

6 comments:

Elmo said...

That bath robe might be "hiding" something alright, but she's also got shit all over her face. Kind of a tip-off. And yes, trailers for previous films edited into sequels is insane. The only time it worked for me was in Friday the 13th part seven, where I rented six and found it to be a great movie through and through.

brian said...

Am I crazy if I say that Friday the 13th Part VI is my favorite friday? And, it's not even really close.

Elmo said...

It's got levels of humor the others don't bother with, and the pacing is not to be trifled with.

Beepy said...

Another fine review but I'm missing the picture. I feel cheated.

brian said...

Check again Beepy. The image hasn't gone anywhere.

Anonymous said...

Why is it ravers always get into trouble with monsters and killers? When will they learn? Kirker you need to go back and post the trailers for these movies. We need a little taste of their awfulness.
-Dan-