This is a movie that opens with the perfect musical beats of The Sisters of Mercy’s Cry Little Sister and then leads into the Doors being covered by Echo & the Bunnymen “People are strange”. Few other films both capture their era so elegantly, so perfectly and tell you everything you need to know about the film you are going to watch. This movie came out in 1987 and every single aspect of it shows it from hair, to fashion, to music, to dialogue, to effects.
Welcome to Santa Carla, welcome to the Lost Boys. This review will absolutely focus on the first of the three movies; yes there are three. I have watched all three and as a warning to the generations yet to come I will not review them (this month). This is probably one of the last of the vampire genre of the 80’s and mainstream horror vampires we get for years to come. I want to make it clear, this is not the last vampire movie of the 80s and not the last mainstream vamp, but it is one of the last that is both Mainstream and actually HORROR. Is it particularly scary by modern sensibilities? No, but this isn’t a dramatic piece and it’s certainly not a romance. While it only grossed $32 million in 1987, that puts it higher than most horror movies in todays market with an adjusted gross of about $65 million. Despite what we consider low numbers, this is also a box office success when you consider it was made for about $8.5 million.
Now as I move to talk about the director, I usually indicate that friends don’t let friends watch Joel Schumacher movies. This is the man who gave us Batman and Robin and Batman Forever. When you’re done vomitting I will be here. While he does have a good decision here or there in his career; for the most part he is a train wreck. Lost Boys is one of his good decisions, in which he looked at a script that called for Goonies aged vampires and the Frog Brothers to be chubby scouts and went – “nah, lets make them teens and sexier.” Best decision ever as it’s created one of the most iconic and influential vampire films of the modern era. I’d talk more about the writers Janice Fischer and James Jermias, but they quite literally did nothing after or before it. The movie does have a third writer which by normal rules is a death knell , but somehow in this film it’s an improvement. If I had to guess he was brought in by Richard Donner (the producer who almost directed) to brush up and mature the script. The third writer is Jeffrey Boam, who is credited for Lethal Weapons 2 and 3, Indiana JOnes and the Last Crusade, Innerspace and as the creator of Brisco County Jr. Fascinating individual and one I would bet brought most of the sarcasm and charm to the script created by the other two.
The movie centers around Michael (Jason Patric), his brother Sam (Corey Haim) and mother Lucy (Dianne Weist) recently imported from Phoenix to Santa Carla California. An improvement I’d say. Michael in his quest to get laid (it’s not stated but watch, its what happened) encounters Starr (Jami Gertz) a hot young brunette who has a penchant for tank tops. She is also part of a local gang of toughs lead by David (Keifer Sutherland). As the gang brings Michael into the fold he finds out they are vampires. His little brother Sam, encounters the mysterious and strange Frog Brothers Edgar (Corey Feldman) and Alan (Jamison Newlander), who work in their parents comic shop and believe they hunt the supernatural. A third plot line is surprisingly successfully interwoven with Lucy meeting a charming man, and employer, by the name of Max (Edward Hermann). As the movie counts down to its gruesome conclusion the plot threads collide in like a head on collision. Along the way we are treated to some of the lovely music of the 80’s and the introduction to one of the most gothic songs to be released, Cry Little Sister.
When it comes to acting, the movie is generally lacking. It borders on camp at times from the levels of bad some of the characters hit. I blame part of that on the script. 20 year old Gertz is fresh from the bomb Solar Babies, yes that’s an actual title and still is very rough around the edges. This is the first movie with the two Coreys together but it’s clear they actually have a natural charisma together; even though the characters are young, stupid and insane – much like the Coreys themselves I suppose. Sutherland and his vampire crew which includes future Bill S Preston Esquire (Alex Winter) are mostly there to look ridiculous in that 80s biker goth way and chew scenery; which they do with wild abandon.
The effects are all practical, and I thank whatever dark god decided that, through the movie and surprisingly most of them hold up. I think that lays solely on the talents of an Oscar winning make up team including Face/Off judge Ve Neill.
As it pertains to the vampire mythos, it doesn’t add a whole heck of a lot other than character and flavor. It shows a new younger, edgier breed of vampire that we really had not gotten to see before. Gone were the cloaks and bad accents; in were trench coats and bad haircuts. It does hold a few element true from common myths, such as sunlight, staking, garlic, invitations etc. It also gave us the Buffy Brow that became the standard for vampires everywhere after.
The Lost Boys is a must see for any fan of the genre. If you are young enough to have never seen it – do so. While I was sad to never see its true continuation the Lost Girls, this one stands apart in the vampire genre and holds it’s own even now.
Tomorrow’s review wants to let you know if you lose the race you lose your car!