Until this week, The Lost Boys had always been one of those film’s I’d claim to have seen, despite only seeing bits and pieces of it over the years. For the longest time, all I knew about Joel Schumacher’s 80’s classic was it had a part where a kid goes to a comic book store and a part where dumb teens fall off a bridge. Now I know it is so much more.
Not only is The Lost Boys memorable as one of the best vampire films of its time, it also launched a brand so popular it has its own Wikipedia entry. I am of course referring to: “The Two Coreys”, Corey Feldman and Corey Haim, who became teen idols with the release of this film and 80’s pop culture icons. Not gonna lie guys, they’re pretty dreamy.
Let’s brush up on the plot to this teen/beach/vampire flick, one of my favorite genres. Lucy Emerson (Dianne Wiest) and her two sons; teenager Michael Emerson (Jason Patric) and younger brother Sam (Corey Haim) are looking for a fresh start. Leaving their home in Phoenix, the Emersons move in with Lucy’s hippie father (Barnard Hughes), in his home in the fictional beach town of Santa Carla, CA a town we learn is “the murder capital of the world.” Nice call.
Sam and Michael head to the boardwalk where the greatest band in history is playing, and both befriend two uniquely odd groups of friends. Michael meets a gang of teen punks, led by the arrogant David (Kiefer Sutherland), who also happen to be terrorizing the town as murderous vampires. Drawn to the gang, particularly a beautiful girl named Star (Jamie Gertz), Michael decides to join them in their initiation ritual. Which includes having a trust fall hanging from train tracks over the bay and eating worms and drinking blood and other dumb teen shit.
Meanwhile, Sam is browsing the local comic shop where he meets a pair of eccentric brothers, Edgar and Alan Frog (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander) who try to convince the new kid in town Santa Carla is swarming with vampires. They give Sam a vampire comic and tell him, “You’ll like this one, Mr. Phoenix. It could save your life.” Sam scoffs at the brothers but is later convinced after noticing a monstrous change in his brother, and the only way to break the curse is to kill the head vampire. Hunting season has begun.
It’s hard to see The Lost Boys as anything unique in today’s blood-soaked market, but until this film, vampires were never this cool. Vampires were creepy old men who lived in castles and wore black and red cowls. In this film, vampires are hip, sexy teens who like rock music, wear leather jackets and have big hair. I think the film is more revolutionary than people give it credit. It’s also interesting considering this film began life as a completely different film.
The original screenplay for The Lost Boys by Janice Fischer and James Jeremiad was a story about preteen, Goonies-like vampires facing off against boy scouts. To think we could have had Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse almost thirty years earlier, what a missed opportunity. Richard Donner was originally attached to direct, only to drop out to work on Lethal Weapon 3 (the best one), and so Joel Schumacher, who had previously directed a movie with Gary Busey and Mr. T as taxi drivers took over.
It was Joel’s idea to make the vampires in the story older, and though I think this choice helped expand the film’s reach, I’m not sure if it’s an overall better idea. I look at it from two perspectives. On one hand, the vampires being teens lets the film explore issues like the pressure teens have to be cool and rebellious. We all want to fit in, and sometimes we don’t care what it takes. It also makes the vampires more intimidating to young Sam and the Frog Brothers. On the other hand, we are given way too much time with a bunch of stereotypical teens. These characters aren’t very interesting, which is a shame because Sam and the Frog brothers are. We should be focusing more of our energy on Sam. It was a lot of fun watching him learn about vampires, what makes them tick, and how to stop them. It’s like watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer if she was 12.
I think it comes down to; I wanted more of the Corey’s. Say what you will about them but they are both talented, likable actors and the scenes they share have more humor and wit in them than anything present between Jason Patric and Kiefer bro-ing it out. Or Jason Patric and his incredibly bland infatuation for Jamie Gertz. Don’t get me wrong, those actors aren’t bad, but their characters think they are so fucking cool. It’s annoying.
One character I almost forgot to mention is the late great Edward Herman as Max, a nerdy video store owner who falls for Lucy. Sam and the Frog brother’s lingering paranoia that he is a vampire himself leads to a highly amusing dinner scene and later on, some great twists and turns in the story.
I think what works best about The Lost Boys is it’s a fresh approach to an old standard. From the hip 80’s beach setting to its own set of designated vampire rules and slick production, not to mention rocking soundtrack—you have to love Echo and The Bunnymen’s cover of The Door’s “People Are Strange”—it’s a film that is miraculously ahead of its time while also feeling of its era. Its a shame Joel Schumacher had such a hit-and-miss career following this. Then again in the universe, there’s only one absolute… everything freezes!