The Hidden is ridiculously good, silly fun from the guy who brought you such loony titles as Maniac Killer Strikes Again (German Expressionism plus whimsy plus noir) and Peculia & The Groon Grove Vampires (a witch’s brew of Charles Addams, Edward Gorey, and The Babysitters Club too).
A great big orgy of schlocky gore and cartoon deaths, the plot is every old horror film rolled into one glorious genre cliché – the desolate confusion after a zombie apocalypse and the camp theatrics of Hammer’s best and worst, while the rules of teen slasher-flicks are followed unswervingly (the “touching” moment between a couple in love is immediately followed by blood and mayhem, as per) – and Richard Sala’s absurd humour bleeds through the lot like red ink on a crisp white collar.
The Hidden moves at a pace where there is no chance to get bored or question the logic of the plot – every page is like the characters are running through the set of movies you’ve seen before, and those movies you’ve only seen clips of in niche-market documentaries. An actual devil on horseback appears and disappears never to be mentioned again, while the flavour of apocalypse in the first half seems almost entirely disconnected from that of the second, as if Sala is making it up as he goes along, animatedly telling horror stories by the fire on Christmas Eve. And then this happened, and then this happened, and then –
As ever, the true joy here is seeing Sala in brilliant colour. Layer upon layer of masterfully applied paint creates every shadow, shade and unlikely bright pajama in the cartoon horror. Undead eyes stare from blue and green sunken sockets, blood splashes across the page in spurts of dark crimson. It is, to hammer it home with a bloody mallet, an absolute demented joy. Here there are no pretentions. It is half an hour spent in a world where anything could happen and logic has no place. As one distraught character said, “It was madness… utter fucking madness.”