So you have to be an eighties baby to even remember who ‘The Coreys’ are, but the 1987 vampire fest The Lost Boys is worth remembering. Directed by Joel Schumacher and starring Jason Patric, Kiefer Sutherland, Jami Gertz, Diane Wiest, and of course, Corey Haim and Corey Feldman, The Lost Boys strength is not in its stale effects but in its memorable characters.
Divorced Mom Lucy (Diane Wiest) moves her sons Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim) from Phoenix to Santa Carla, where the boys have a tough time adjusting to Grandpa’s (Barnard Hughes) rules. A Comic enthusiast, Sam makes friends with comic store clerks Edgar and Alan Frog (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander). The Frogs insist St. Carla is swarming with vampires, but Sam doesn’t believe them until Michael becomes involved with Star (Jami Gertz). Star, David (Kiefer Sutherland) and their pals sleep all day and party all night, and Michael is deceived into their wicked ways. When Sam tries to tell his Mother, he interferes with her new romance with video store owner Max (Edward Herrmann).
Well, its been twenty years, so I don’t remember what kind of reception The Lost Boys received at the box office, but the cast was at the time all-star. Some like the Coreys have fallen to drugs and the pressures of fame, but in the late eighties and early nineties they were the Tom Cruise of teen flicks. Hits like License To Drive and Dream A Little Dream catapulted the Coreys to fame. Likewise Kiefer Sutherland was making an early mark in films with bad guy roles here and in Stand By Me (One Corey was in that one, Feldman.) The Lost Boys succeeds because its well rounded cast gives a feeling of realism. Unlike pretty vampire films like Interview With The Vampire and Underworld, this teen vampire gang and the boys in its web have parents, jobs, and authority with which to deal.
When summarizing the story, there isn’t much beyond the usual vampire fair. Someone is suspected of being a vampire, someone is a vampire, vampire gets good guy under his spell, conflicted vampire helps in big vampire overthrow finale. Whew. The Lost Boys has all of this, but Schumacher finds the line between taking the film to seriously and being able to laugh at itself. Memorable scenes from all the actors showcase each’s range, and the script offers lovely moments of humor and real life to keep the vampires in perspective. From Corey Haim’s bathtub serenade to pot smoking Grandpa’s insistence that ‘If you have a TV Guide, you don’t need a TV.’, The Lost Boys keeps it light without becoming ridiculously humorous like forgettable eighties vampire flicks Once Bitten or My Best Friend Is A Vampire.
Where its needs to be light, The Lost Boys plays up the Coreys, but when the film turns dark, it can get very dark, even frightening. Naturally, Kiefer Sutherland and his biker brood seem alluring to Michael at first, but after David’s true nature is revealed to him, things become very hazy. The infamous ‘Maggots, Michael. You’re eating maggots’ can be funny, but the ambiguous imagery and haunting pop score add a dark undercurrent to the film. When the vampire killing begins and the blood sucking action goes all out, its very easy for the audience to root for Sam and The Frog Brothers’ rescue of Michael, the tormented vampire Star, and the peculiar child vampire Laddie.
There’s no doubt that in 1987, The Lost Boy’s style and effects were at the forefront of Hollywood. Even with restoration to DVD, today these vampire action scenes can look, well, hokey. The flying vampire scenes seem artsy and avante guarde like other colorful Schumacher films, and the vampire booby traps don’t seem as inventive as they did then. But of course, if anyone else tried filling a bathtub with garlic and holy water, everyone would know it was copied from The Lost Boys. Just like the scene in which Sam and The Frog brothers try and prove Max is a vampire by putting mirrors about the dinner table, many of the hijinks here made a stamp on the vampire genre. It doesn’t mean they are perfect today, but that’s not the point either.
Vampire fans looking for more story than CGI should pick up The Lost Boys on DVD. The single disc is affordable and the more recent Two Disc Special Edition carries its fair share of extras-including the standard deleted scenes, commentaries, and documentary features. Younger fans who enjoy the stylized Underworld type might not like Boys, but if given the chance, new audiences will relate and appreciate what’s trying to be said. Rated R, The Lost Boys has sexuality, violence, and scares that are too heavy for tweens or younger. If you have a spooky youngin, edited airings of The Lost Boys can be found on cable. The important thing is to not let the idea of older production values hinder your viewing experience. The Lost Boys is a must for any budding vampire enthusiast.