Happy Halloween, everybody! It’s October 31st, and we’ve got one last Halloween Haunter to discuss before November rolls around and the blog returns to some semblance of normalcy, at least for a few weeks. While this month has been filled with an awful lot of pain and agony — on the part of your friendly neighborhood blogger more than the characters in these horror movies — for the big day I’m finishing on a relatively strong note, the 1987 vampire movie, The Lost Boys.
The Lost Boys is the story of brothers Michael and Sam (Jason Patric and Corey Haim), who are moving with their mother, Lucy (Dianne Wiest) to their grandfather’s home in Santa Carla after she has divorced their father. Lucy insists they’re going to love Santa Carla, but Sam can’t help but notice the welcome sign has been graffiti’d to add “Murder Capital of the World”. Not an encouraging sign. They get to their grandfather’s place, and after a brief freakout at his taxidermy shop, they settle in and get ready to adjust to their new lives and the eccentricities of their grandpa (Barnard Hughes).
Soon they begin to explore the boardwalk of Santa Carla, and all three transplanted family members find something that will become important to their immediate futures.
Lucy finds a video store run by a friendly gentleman named Max (Edward Herrman), who hires her and then begins to date her. Sam, an avid comic book reader, finds a comic shop run by the Frog Brothers, Edgar and Alan (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander), a couple boys his own age who are self-styled vampire hunters. They insist on giving him a copy of their self-published vampire comic, saying that the info inside may save his life some day. And Michael finds Star (Jami Gertz), a beautiful girl who he is immediately drawn to.
But Star is trouble, even if she doesn’t entirely mean to be. She’s involved with David (Kiefer Sutherland), the leader of a local gang of troublesome teenagers. After a bit of posturing, David invites Michael to ride with them, and to come back to their hideout. After a night of hijinks, Michael realizes that his new friends are vampires… and he’s started on the path to becoming one himself. When Sam becomes aware of this, he decides they have to destroy David and save Michael before he becomes fully turned. Michael insists on saving Star as well (well, who wouldn’t?)
It’s hard to look intimidating on a merry-go-round, but Kiefer Sutherland almost pulls it off.
The Lost Boys is a fondly-remembered film for many children of the 80s, and it’s easy to see why. The story plays on both the teen gang genre popular then (see The Outsiders for the big example), and on vampire movies, with just a bit of comedy throughout. The genre-blending, which can sometimes blow up in a director’s face, works well here under Joel Schumacher’s command. Kiefer Sutherland is appropriately menacing but likeable as David, the two Coreys fill their roles entertainingly, and the rest of the actors also put in good performances, especially Hughes as the eccentric grandfather. Also, look for a pre-Bill and Ted Alex Winter as Marko, the most vocal minor member of David’s gang of vampires. (You have to look for pre-Bill and Ted Alex Winter when you have the opportunity, because it’s not like you’re going to see post-Bill and Ted Alex Winter anywhere.)
Bill! Why you hangin’ around upside down, Bill? Bill?
The Lost Boys could have been a terrible film in many ways, but succeeded in managing its different elements into a film that is simply fun to watch. If you’re looking for a monster movie that goes for drama over scares, but doesn’t wallow in angst, you could do a lot worse.