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Film / The Hidden

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Tom Beck: Hey, why would he come in here and kill a guy for a lousy hundred bucks and a radio?
Lloyd Gallagher: Because he likes it. He sees something he wants, he steals it. If something gets in his way, he kills it. And right now, he's hiding out in your city.

The Hidden is a 1987 sci-fi/action/horror/buddy cop film directed by Jack Sholder, starring Michael Nouri, Kyle MacLachlan, Clu Gulager, Ed O'Ross, Claudia Christian, Chris Mulkey, William Boyett, and Richard Brooks.

In Los Angeles, a spree killer is finally stopped by the LAPD, only for the dead killer's crime spree to be continued by seemingly unrelated people with no priors. When an FBI agent shows up with surprisingly detailed knowledge about the culprits, it soon becomes clear that the killer can not only switch bodies, it isn't even from Earth...

The film spawned a sequel six years later, with Raphael Sbarge taking over the MacLachlan role.

Danny Trejo has one line in this film. For the 2015 horror/thriller by the Duffer Brothers, see Hidden.

This film provides examples of:

  • Alien Among Us: Lloyd Gallagher, the FBI agent, is actually an alien inhabiting someone's body. He is quite well adapted to life on Earth, but is still awkward and doesn't know how to take an aspirin, for example.
  • Aliens Are Bastards: The evil alien is a thrill-seeking homicidal psychopath who loves to kill and causing mayhem just for his own amusement. Subverted with Gallagher who is actually an honest and noble alien cop.
  • Ax-Crazy: The evil alien is nothing but a sadistic and psychopathic mass murderer who loves to leave dead bodies behind him everyhwere he goes.
  • Bad Is Good and Good Is Bad: When the evil parasite inspects a warehouse storing guns and stolen antiques belonging to some criminal he just murdered, he turns on a record player which proceeds to play a folksy jingle. After listening to it for a few seconds he angrily destroys the record; his evil taste in music apparently doesn't extend beyond death metal.
  • Bait the Dog: The Ferrari salesman and customer seem somewhat justified in their annoyance at the bad alien inspecting the car, and wanting him to leave. Then we see them snorting cocaine and it's revealed the customer is an arms dealer.
  • Bank Robbery: The film opens with the evil parasite robbing a bank, as seen from a black and white security camera. The cops later say that he had robbed another seven banks during his crime spree in that body.
  • Benevolent Boss: The real senator got his assistant to hide, while he remained to face Willis after the last of his bodyguards were killed.
  • Bikini Bar: Brenda the stripper keeps all her naughty bits covered while pole-dancing.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The evil alien is finally destroyed by Gallagher, but officer Thomas Beck is killed in the process. The good alien, having lost his own wife and child to the evil alien before the events of the film, transfers his essence to his partner's dying body to ensure that his partner's family won't be left alone. Beck's daughter accepts him despite her previous reservations.
  • Body Surf: A Puppeteer Parasite-like alien takes over various people in Los Angeles and uses them to commit thrill crimes. He is chased by a member of a different Puppeteer Parasite species who is inhabiting the body of an FBI agent.
  • Brick Joke: "I want... to be President."
  • Buddy Cop Show: The movie features one such couple, with officer Tom Beck being the emotional and down-to-earth one and FBI agent Lloyd Gallagher (really a Puppeteer Parasite inhabiting a human body) being the stoic, logic-minded but awkward one. Interestingly, because Gallagher has a very personal reason to go after the bad guy, he's both The Stoic and the Cowboy Cop of the duo.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: Detective Tom Beck offers his temporary FBI partner Lloyd Gallagher a beer after he invites him for dinner with his wife. Gallagher, who unknown to his partner is actually an alien cop residing in a human host, apparently can't stand the taste and has a hangover from just a few sips.
  • Cassandra Truth: The good alien is more than aware of this and prefers to keep his human partner out of the loop concerning the body-jumping alien parasite they're both pursuing. When he does finally tell him the truth about space aliens after his cover identity is exposed as a fake, he is thrown in a jail cell because his partner thinks he's pulling his leg.
  • Character Tic: Regardless of the host body it is inhabiting, even if that host is a dog, the evil parasite has an creepy habit of smacking its lips. It's also rather fond of the Slasher Smile.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Early on, one policeman shows the two main characters a flamethrower he grabbed from some kids who just happened to carry one in the street. Because it has nothing to do with the scene and disappears just after, it's pretty obvious it will be used against the body-snatcher alien.
  • Creepy Good: Gallagher acts as The Spock and speaks with a Creepy Monotone similar to the alien parasite Big Bad, but is an alien cop out to arrest the alien criminal causing homicidal havoc. Beck's daughter senses this when they're introduced, seeming unnerved that he appears somewhat unwordly which saddens him.
  • Dark Action Girl: Brenda the stripper, due to the alien pulling a Body Surf on her and attacking the two detectives with an Steyr assault rifle.
  • Death of Personality: Gallagher reveals to Beck that anyone the alien possesses is subject to this.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Both Gallagher and the evil alien are essentially doing this every time they possess a new body.
  • Decoy Protagonist: At first, it appears Tom Beck is the police detective protagonist, while FBI agent Lloyd Gallagher is by his side as the intellectual outsider partner guiding him on how to apprehend his latest perp, however, gradually and ultimately Gallagher is the true protagonist, while Beck is fatally wounded just before the main alien antagonist is destroyed once and for all. Beck would succumb to his wounds, leaving Gallagher to Body Surf into the former so his family would not have to be alone.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: When the alien is pulled over by the cops while wearing a stripper's body, it uses its "assets" to make them drop their guard before opening fire on them.
  • The Dog Is an Alien: A parasitic alien creature hides in other beings and uses them. It temporarily uses a dog, but (as in the original "Who Goes There?") it wants to be a man, not a dog.
  • Don't Come A-Knockin': An unusual example in that the sleazy guy's car is rocking enthusiastically while he has sex with Brenda the stripper—and continues to rock as he starts screaming in pain. Then Brenda (possessed by the alien) throws the corpse out of the car and takes off.
  • Energy Being: What species Gallagher really is: a luminescent ball of white light inside the body of an FBI agent. This contrasts with the hideous fleshy species that the evil alien is.
  • Evil Is Petty: The alien criminal is basically, if not an Ax-Crazy Serial Killer, a small-time crook who loves to commit robberies For the Evulz. However, when it targets Senator Holt, it upgrades its agenda and decides to turn from a petty thief to a terrorist to embark on becoming President Evil.
  • Evil Old Folks: The alien inhabiting Jonathan Miller fulfills this. According to the doctor that treated him, the original Miller was actually a sweet old man who wouldn't harm a fly.
  • Foil: Lloyd and the parasite seem to be the same species. However, while the parasite cares only for its own pleasure, Lloyd is selfless.
  • Evil Is Visceral: The evil alien is a hideous slug-being that resembles a mosquito larva which kills the person in order to possess their body, contrasting with the almost angelic Energy Being that Gallagher's race is which apparently only possesses someone once they have passed on naturally.
  • Grand Theft Me: An alien slug takes over the bodies of humans as unsuspecting prey and treats it like a joyride. It just wants to listen to death metal, drive expensive cars, rob banks, and blow things up. For fun.
  • Hidden Depths: Beck shows a softer side to his personality while at home with his family.
  • Hitler Cam: Shows the alien's second host as it beats a record store owner to death.
  • Impersonating an Officer: The good alien parasite poses as an FBI officer so it can enlist the help of local human law enforcement to hunt down the evil alien parasite who killed his partner. Admittedly it's a Space Cop in its own right, but pretty far outside of its normal jurisdiction.
  • Improbable Age: When Gallagher first shows up at the police station and tells everyone he's FBI, the cops joke that the FBI must be hiring straight out of high schools. MacLachlan was about 28 when this movie was made.
  • It's Personal: Lloyd Gallagher has been hunting the evil alien parasite ever since it killed his partner and his wife and daughter on the planet Altair, so he's a lot more reckless than the human officer he's paired up with. When his human partner is gunned down, he becomes even closer and ruthless.
  • Jerkass: The parasite isn't just some evil alien, but a hilariously petty, hedonistic dick. When the alien isn't murdering people, it's playing heavy metal very loudly on a boom box or loudly passing gas in a diner.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: The LAPD officers are immediately resistant to Gallagher's presence, which is not helped by his extreme secrecy over what, exactly, is going on. Even as Beck starts to gradually warm up to Gallagher, he makes quite a few anti-elitist digs at how much money he assumes Lloyd makes.
  • Light Is Good: The good alien aka Lloyd is revealed to be, in his true form, a beam of golden light. This is in contrast to the evil alien who has the same body-hopping powers, but manifests as a sort of slimy squid-like thing.
  • Literal Metaphor: The alien parasite is a parasite in every definition of the word. It uses its host up til it no longer has any use, and moves on. It doesn't even use the host for survival: it uses it to have fun without worrying about the consequences.
  • List of Transgressions: When the alien Puppeteer Parasite villain's first onscreen body is near death in the hospital, a doctor takes offense to the police officers' relief, saying that no one deserves to die like that. One of the officers responds thus:
    He killed twelve people, wounded twenty three more, stole six cars, most of them Ferraris. Robbed eight banks, six supermarkets, four jewelry stores and a candy shop. Six of the ones he killed he carved up with a butcher knife. Two of them were kids. He did all that in two weeks. If anyone deserves to go that way, it sure in the hell was him!
  • Magical Defibrillator: The typical, ridiculous "doctor uses defibrillator on flatlining patient" scene. Although in this case the patient does wake up, but not because of the defibrillator.
  • Man, I Feel Like a Woman: The villain is a parasitic alien who jumps around between various human bodies. All are male, except for one, a stripper played by Claudia Christian. As soon as the alien makes the switch, it reaches down and ... you know the rest.
  • Ms Fan Service: The lovely Claudia Christian as a stripper! The strip club features several other beautiful scantily clad strippers/waitresses, the director in his DVD commentary admitting the only one he gave any dialogue to was his girlfriend at the time.
  • No Name Given: The villain of the movie. Across this page, you'll mostly see it referred to as "the evil alien".
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Beck gets shot in the shoulder and is still able to use that arm to pull himself up from a ledge. And getting shot in the shoulder is still not a big deal afterwards, as he's grilling Lloyd about the bizarre scene they just witness, and barking orders to his men, all the while with a bullet in him.
  • The Only One: Spoofed when the Chief says that when the cop protagonist is reassigned:
    "My department will then crumble, crime will run rampart, the city will fall into ruin, rampaging hordes will control the streets and life as we know it will end!"
  • Orifice Invasion: The alien parasite burrows into and out of mouths several times during the movie. One scene used a prosthetic head to show the process in gory detail; upon seeing that scene on film, the actor whose likeness was on the head was physically ill.
  • Out with a Bang: While possessing the body of a stripper, the Puppeteer Parasite-like alien screws a man to death in the parking lot. It's a bit unclear exactly how this is done, as there were no obvious wounds on the victim, nor does the alien seem able to literally consume a person's life force.
  • Parasites Are Evil: The evil alien is an Ax-Crazy slug monster who kills anyone it jumps into, then uses the body to spread chaos for its own amusement. By contrast, the good alien never takes anyone against their will and only uses bodies that are already braindead.
  • Possession Burnout: The reason why the evil alien needs to switch bodies much more frequently than its good counterpart is because of the drastic wear and tear it inflicts on its hosts. When it possesses an old man with a stomach ailment, it actually has trouble keeping it alive and simply covers its wounds with duct tape. It bleeds out within minutes after he ditches it for a younger one. This is in contrast to Alhague, who is able to keep his host body in working order much longer simply by taking care of it.
  • Possessing a Dead Body: Essentially what the evil alien does. The act of possession kills the original person, and then the alien simply rides the living body until it wears completely out, leaving a corpse behind. In the sequel, the possession is described as causing active blood loss in the body.
  • President Evil: Alluded to but never realized. Towards the end, the evil alien who has been going on a mass-murdering rampage throughout Los Angeles throughout the entire film, takes over the body of a U.S. Senator, who is generally understood to be planning a presidential bid. While possessed, he confirms that "I want to be the President."
  • Previously on…: The first fifteen minutes of The Hidden II were a montage of footage from the first film. The sequel even marketed Michael Nouri as starring in the second film, even though he only appeared in the recap footage.
  • Pull the I.V.: Justified—the alien villain, occupying a human body, is hospitalized after the police gun him down. After they leave him with another patient he yanks out the IV to jump into the other person's body. The alien supercharges all its hosts' durability far beyond human standards.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: The antagonist is an icky alien resembling a mosquito larva, which forces its way down people's throats and does the Body Surf routine. One of the two main characters is also one, but from another alien species that doesn't need to change body nearly that often.
  • Rape Discretion Shot: Subverted. The parasite uses his current body to assault a stripper after gaining an apparent interest in sexy women before the scene cuts away. It would hardly be out of character for a thrill-seeking spree killer to turn to sexual violence, but it turns out he was more interested in taking over her body. It does, however, literally screw another guy to death in the stripper's body.
  • Redshirt Army: The senators secret service detail. A few score hits on the alien-possessed Detective Willis but not enough to stop him and are all shot and possibly killed/badly wounded in return.
  • Ray Gun: The good alien has a special type of gun that is required to kill the evil alien, but he needs it to leave its human host first as it incinerates their own kind but is harmless to human tissue.
  • Rooftop Confrontation: "Lloyd" and Beck have their shootout with a possessed Brenda on the roof of a warehouse. Beck finally figures out that something very very strange is going on when he sees Brenda, still standing after Lloyd emptied an entire clip into her, after she'd already been shot several times.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Several of the police characters but the most notable is Willis, a notable supporting character who made it to the last fifteen minutes alive and uninfected.
  • Slasher Smile: The evil parasite likes making these.
  • Sheet of Glass: Exaggerated in the Dramatic Chase Opening. Two men are carrying a sheet of glass across a park for no apparent reason when the Body Surf alien comes roaring up in a stolen car. He not only drives through the glass, he also runs over the two men in the process.
  • Showing Off the New Body: The body possessing space alien villain starts out only possessing the bodies of men. The first time it possesses the body of a female stripper, it spends some time exploring the differences.
  • Sole Survivor: Brem for certain, of the squadroom detectives although it's possible Sandy might also have lived. Also an example of Throw the Dog a Bone since he was a bit of a Butt-Monkey.
  • Something Only They Would Say: The evil alien, in all of its host bodies, has the tendency to move its tongue back and forth in its mouth. After taking control of Senator Holt, it looks right at Gallagher and pointedly does the tongue thing, as if to taunt him.
  • Snowy Screen of Death: The opening scene is a bank robbery as seen from a security camera. The last thing the robber does before leaving the building is shoot his shotgun at the camera, resulting in the Snowy Screen of Death.
  • Space Cop: The good body-snatching alien (who poses as an FBI agent for most of the film) eventually reveals himself to be an extra-terrestrial police officer who has been pursuing the rampaging evil bodysnatcher across several planets after it killed his partner.
  • Staking the Loved One: Beck is distraught at having to put down his work colleagues and best friends Masterson and Willis when the latter two are possessed by the evil alien parasite with Willis being the one who fatally wounds Beck.
  • Stellar Name: The alien police officer's name, Ras Alhague, is also the name of the brightest star in the constellation Ophiuchus.
  • Super-Toughness: Any human host that the evil parasite possesses becomes durable enough that they need to be shot over fifteen times before it decides to swap it for a better meatsuit, which makes sense as the alien inside is immune to Earth weapons, and the person's body is essentially a corpse that it's animating for a time. The alien doesn't feel pain of the injuries and is simply annoyed at the damage its vessel is sustaining. The cops note that one vacated host simply bled to death, because the alien wasn't around anymore to keep it alive.
  • Terrorists Without a Cause: The alien criminal seeks to become this by taking over a senator's body to make a breakthrough in pulling off the biggest intergalactic crime of its life.
  • Villains Blend in Better: Averted. The heroic Alhague is able to pass as simply slightly odd, while the villainous alien spends most of the movie on a mad killing spree, purely for the fun of it. We do get the sense that the evil alien could blend in a bit better if it wanted to, however.
  • Villain Song: While the alien Big Bad does not have one, the in-universe heavy metal music it listens to reflects on its destructive, yet daredevil lifestyle and one from a car radio which its lyrics reflects on the alien getting use to inhabiting a female body.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Soon after taking over the senator's body, the alien is greeted with applause after simply saying that it wants to be president.
  • Villainous Glutton: The parasite is the embodiment of the classical deadly sin. It's not for food, per se. It's a glutton for pleasure.
  • The Watson: Lloyd Gallagher initially appears to serve as this to Thomas Beck for being The Spock by his side. However, it becomes inverted with the roles switched with the down-to-earth Beck being this for the alien Gallagher.
  • We Can Rule Together: The evil alien while possessing Masterson makes this offer to "Lloyd" during the shootout in the police headquarters jail wing.
    Evil alien: We could take over this place if we wanted. They have nothing here to stop us.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: They never try to just nonfatally disable anyone who the alien is using the body of. Justified, since anyone it possesses suffers a Death of Personality.
  • Would Hurt a Child: It's mentioned that the evil alien killed off-screen six people with a butchered knife which two of them were kids while he was in Jack DeVries' body.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Once the bodies he possess are no longer suitable for him the evil alien simply jumps to another one leaving the former to die.

Alternative Title(s): The Hidden 1987