The Lost Boys (1987)
Directed by: Joel Schumacher
Written by: James Jeremias, Jan Fischer, Jeffrey Boam
Starring: Barnard Hughes, Corey Feldman, Corey Haim, Dianne Wiest, Edward Herrmann, Jami Gertz, Jamison Newlander, Jason Patric, Kiefer Sutherland
THE LOST BOYS
Directed by Joel Schumacher
1987 was a damn good year for horror. Ash fought the Evil Dead for a second time, Freddy took on the Dream Warriors, Arnie was hunted by a Predator, Terry O’Quinn became a Stepfather and Pinhead had such sights to show us. But while all of these great movies mattered, the coolest to emerge that year by a mile was The Lost Boys. As such I was delighted to be invited to a Halloween showing of it on the big screen via the good folks at Warner. To be clear, there are more scary vampire films (Salem’s Lot), more creative ones (Martin), more dramatic ones (Interview with the Vampire), more soulful ones (Let The Right One In), more atmospheric ones (Near Dark), classier ones (Nosferatu) and goofier ones (Fright Night). But there’s none that are so damn entertaining. From the get go the focus is on fun (ok, and the odd bit of saxophone-based homoeroticism) with no screen time wasted between belly laughs and spin tingling fights.
Beginning conception as a Goonies style adventure, the then mostly unknown director (save for Brat Pack comedy St Elmos Fire), Joel Schumacher, amplified the script’s darker elements to give it more bite. The plot centres on young Sam (Haim), and big brother Michael (Patrick). Following the breakup of their parents, they move with their mum to the beach town of Santa Carla – the murder capital of the world! There, stay with sex and taxidermy obsessed grandpa, who lives in a shack and doesn’t even have a TV. Oh, and then there’s all the damn vampires. Michael stumbles into their world after falling for Star (Gertz) – a good girl in with a bad crowd. An odd initiation later, then he’s biking around with creatures of the night. Sleeping all day, partying all night, never growing old and never dying. It’s fun to be a vampire.
Nowadays it’s really refreshing to see a film about vampires that doesn’t sanitize them – turning them in to tragic, reluctant killers or poetic tortured souls. Rather the ones in Santa Carla take glee in it, relishing every opportunity to pain the town red. As they drink people’s blood, yank them into the air out of their convertibles or intimidate them on Harleys, it’s always with wicked laughs and swagger. The Lost Boys made a star out of Kiefer Sutherland, and it’s not hard to see why. He’s never been as charismatic as when he’s playing the evil David: a heart-throb, glam-rock bad boy meets speed demon – presumably a starting point for Spike in Buffy. Then there’s the Frog Brothers: Edgar (Feldman) and Allan (Newlander). Two pint sized vampire slayers, with gravely voices, who operate out a comic shop and are very darn funny. The action scenes also hold up well, with the various aerial fights and effects both being on point.
Despite all this The Lost Boys never reached a large cinema audience, netting a respectable, but unremarkable, $32 million. Yet it boomed on home video and cable, becoming one of Warner Brothers top sellers of all time. Unfortunately, for many the first thing that’ll come to mind about it is the shared legacy of the two Coreys: a tragic tale of young fame resulting in addiction, and bad reality television. There were also two sequels I’ve managed to avoid ‘til now, yet heard nothing positive about: Lost Boys: The Tribe (2008) and Lost Boys: The Thirst (2010). Still, as a time capsule to an era where kids still bought comics and listened to stereos it’s up there with the best. Now 30 years young there’s never been a better time to pick up the original on bluray/ dvd. So call your friends, crack open some beers and get your teeth into a big cheesy pizza – though strictly no noodles.