The Late Corey Haim's Best Film is Also One of my Favorites
I will forever watch "The Lost Boys" through the eyes of a 13-year-old girl. Though it was produced in 1987, when I was 5, it wasn’t until my teens that I saw this coming-of-age vampire film. At the time, my girlfriends and I loved horror movies. Better still, we loved horror movies with cute bad boys playing the title roles. "Pet Cemetery II," with Edward Furlong, was our typical slumber-party rental, and, like pizza, it never got old.
Just when we thought we had the Friday night routine down, along came "The Lost Boys" to make us want more. With its dark music, punk style, references to drugs and sexy vampires, the whole movie felt like a high school party to which we craved an eternal invitation. Edward Furlong in Terminator 2 and in that “Living on the Edge” video was kid stuff, and Kiefer Sutherland as David in The Lost Boys was our future dream boyfriend and our daddy’s worst nightmare.
The whole movie feels like a horror-comic, in that its characters are stereotypes, exaggerations of real people, with predictable roles and over-simplified dialogue. If the otherworldly events and supernatural powers and curses are removed, what’s left is a typical broken-family-meets-teenage-angst-and-hormones-type scenario. The characters are normal people in an abnormal situation: the overly nurturing, frazzled, recent divorcee, Lucy, played by Dianne Wiest; her two uprooted teenage sons, Michael and Sam, played by Jason Patric and Corey Haim; the eccentric grandpa, played by Bernard Hughes, who takes them in; Michael’s love interest, Star, played by Jami Gertz, who is used as bait by the vampires and then plays damsel in distress; the vampire group, led by Sutherland, which peer pressures Michael into joining them; and Lucy’s love interest who turns out to be the lead vampire, Max, played by Edward Herrmann, who reassures the boys he is not trying to replace their father.
The opening scene of "The Lost Boys" is brilliant. It sets the mood and the plot using a montage of images, seen through the eyes of Lucy, Michael and Sam as they drive into ocean-side Santa Carla for the first time. A billboard spray painted “Murder Capital of the World,” 1980’s beach punks enjoying an amusement park, “MISSING” posters stapled along the roadways, all set against a backdrop of “People Are Strange” by The Doors (performed by Echo and the Bunnymen). All this, even The Doors reference, is carefully selected foreshadowing, presented like a rock video to attract us young viewers.
I’m assuming the name Santa Carla was invented so as not to offend the residents of Santa Cruz, California, where the movie was actually filmed. Most of "The Lost Boys" was filmedat the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, but could have been as successfully filmed on the East Coast at the Myrtle Beach Pavilion, or any similar location infected with a culture of meaningless trashiness—piercing stands, bad music, roller coasters, litter, bathing suits, motorcycles, comic books, and so on.
Somehow, "The Lost Boys" manages to mock itself and still stay cool. The whole movie is simultaneously an instant classic and a joke. I mean, it has Bill from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure as a vampire, one member of a group of vampires resembling the band Whitesnake. Then, there are the Frog brothers, played by Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander, who learned everything they need to know about killing vampires from comics in their store: “Vampires Everywhere!” and “Destroy All Vampires.”
Darkness falls on the film just enough to keep the viewer from rolling t heir eyes and laughing their way through the movie. "The Lost Boys’"; theme song “Cry Little Sister” has Biblical lyrics and a haunting tone. The otherworldly beauty and seriousness of the characters Michael, David and Star contrast the comicality of the two Corey’s and Grandpa. The vampires do drugs, drink blood from a bejeweled bottle and play mind tricks in their candlelit cave. “How are those maggots? Maggots, Michael, you’re eating maggots. How do they taste?” taunts David after sharing his Chinese rice. The vampires chant “Michael, Michael, Michael,” the room spins, Michael screams as he falls through a thick fog.
Then he stops screaming, looks oddly into the fog (still in free fall) and starts screaming again. And with this, the viewer is back to their giggling and eye rolling. When Michael lands he’s on his bed and Sam, the open mouthed and incredulous Corey Haim, is there waiting for him. “Are you freebasing? Inquiring minds want to know,” he kids. “My own brother—a g**damn, shit sucking vampire! Boy, you wait ‘til Mom finds out!” I suppose for a 13-year-old, the biggest obstacle to becoming any kind of creature of the night is always Mom.
Rated R. Relesed in theaters in 1987, with 97 minutes of runtime.
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