Do you remember that classic, THE HIDDEN?
Geoff Willmets at computercrowsnest.com has a nice review of this classic.
With Kyle MacLachlan, you know, 'Agent Cooper?'
For me this began the era of what I call the 90's conspiracy dramas. No this movie is from the 80's, yes, but I'll explain.
1987. The Hidden is released. Yes, there were classic conspiracy films previously, like 3 Days of the Condor, Hangar 18, The Parallax View, and others...but we're talking about a 'new phase.' The HIDDEN isn't responsible for this new era, but begins it in a way.
Kyle MacLachlan ironically plays an FBI agent (sort of) in the Hidden, who would later then play FBI Agent Cooper, in David Lynch's Twin Peaks, who will uncover conspiracies about Black Lodges, possible alien abductions in that series. In 1988, THEY LIVE is released. Another fun yarn about aliens pretending to be people. Again, nothing new here, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, V, even Buckaroo Banzai came out in 1984.
No, now were into a new phase. A more up front, detective show, close and personal. In 1990, FBI agent Cooper attempts to solve a murder in a small Washington town, and finds demonic possession, secret societies and possibly aliens. David Duchovny enters this new phase, as a cross-dressing agent. MacLachlan's Cooper is not too far from Lloyd Gallagher in the Hidden. (Only we find out, he's not quite an FBI Agent.)
Here's the deal, in 1987, "Unsolved Mysteries" really catches on. Popular episodes include The Black Dahlia, The Roswell Incident, and others which rotate between missing persons and paranormal themes. In 1989, Whitley Strieber's "Communion" is adapted to the screen starring Christopher Walken.
Twin Peaks runs from 1990 to 1991, and we have the birth of FBI Agent Starling in "Silence of the Lambs." Oliver Stone releases his movie, "JFK." Also in 1991, Steven Soderbergh's KAFKA is released, a conspiracy film which takes place earlier in the 20th Century, but offers up a conspiracy theme that will be revisited again and again. Stephen King's "Golden Years" miniseries is broadcast, in which government agents attempt to cover-up and kill a man who was accidentally exposed to a secret experiment. Bill Cooper releases his famous "Behold a Pale Horse."
In 1992, a new UFO craze was sweeping the country. One effect of the craze was the widespread and growing belief in government conspiracies that involved AREA 51, 'Black Helecopters' and "Black Projects." This is a new phase, the era of Watergate and JFK Assasination conspiracies take a new turn. The "Art Bell" Show becomes popular.
This all of course inspires Chris Carter who develops "THE X-FILES." David Duchovny is back. The show essentially takes after a movie called "HANGAR 18" starring Darren McGavin, star of the television series "Nightstalker," who Chris Carter admits he got his inspiration. Clearly the X-Files follows in the wake of the ongoing mystery soap opera, "Twin Peaks," without which I would argue, there would be no X-Files. Darren McGavin will make two appearances in the X-Files, as the first FBI Agent to uncover them. The year is 1993.
In 1993, Kyle MacLachlan stars in the Kafka conspiracy, "THE TRIAL."
In 1994, Kyle MacLachlan returns in "Roswell." Stephen King's THE STAND appears on television, a miniseries where the government creates a SuperFlu virus which they attempt to cover-up, but fail, and it decimates the earth, and viewers watch "Martial Law" declared in America, on a TV Drama.
All of this is a new kind of science fiction. Detective-Conspiracy-Alien Invasion-Cover-Ups. (Now referred to simply as 'something like the X-Files.)
In 1995, Bruce Greenwood stars in a total conspiracy show called NOWHERE MAN. Scott Bakula stars in a new alien conspiracy mini-series, "INVADERS." Fox Network premieres it's 'legendary' (and phony) "Alien Autopsty" Special.
The X-Files continued to outlast all of them, and what essentially built up to the X-Files, and all its weirdness, will also be henceforth referred to as 'from the X-Files,' or 'like the X-Files.'
Stephen King, William Gibson go on to write episodes for the X-Files, but Kyle MacLachlan fails to make an appearance. Perhaps in a decade, the next generation, when they look back, he'll be known as their own "Darren McGavin."
This era of conspiracy entertainment broke new ground in mainstreaming 'conspiracy theories,' and 'conspiracy dramas.' Black Helecopters made their debut in the early 80s as "Blue Thunder" but became part of the language by the time Mel Gibson's "CONSPIRACY THEORY" came out in 1997. Now there are few who haven't heard the term.
I mark this period, "The Hidden Beginning, " as this movie in its time period (1987) conjures up the time of innocence, before all this, the time I recall, even in the film's environment, setting, as the time just before everything changed.
1987 was the year of the Iran-Contra Scandal. America has yet to recover.