Before the vampire craze of the late aughties there was “The Lost Boys.” Here’s my review from June 6, 2011.
Living in the modern era of overdone vampire stories, “The Lost Boys” makes for a worthy retro antidote. With films and TV shows full of characters who simply are vampires these days, “Lost Boys” reminds us how part of the allure of the vampire is the mystery and suspense created by not exactly knowing if someone is a vampire or even better — suspecting it.
Although it doesn’t take long to realize who the vampires are in “The Lost Boys,” it doesn’t make their reveal any less effective. The ’80s hair biker gang led by Kiefer Sutherland as David has the trappings of an iconic cinema cult of renegades who revel in their immortality. The story holds out on reviewing their true form long enough for us to take them seriously.
Brothers and main characters Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim) serve as perfect entry points into this vampire-infested world of small-town California. After their mom (Dianne Wiest) forces them to move in with their grandfather, Michael and Sam each uncover strange things in their new town. After chasing a girl (Jami Gertz), Michael gets caught up in this mysterious gang and finds himself avoiding sunlight among other things. When Sam takes notice, he enlists the help of the Frog brothers (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander), two comic book geeks who moonlight as vampire killers.
“The Lost Boys” bathes in ’80s film cheese. There’s boy-sees-girl-across-the-room romance, a comic book store, a carnival, gangs … the list goes on. The film epitomizes that decade in movies, which either makes it corny or classic. I would argue that as the plot thickens, it moves from the former to the latter.
The key to the film’s effectiveness is the slow unveiling of the vampires. The scene in the tree where they show Michael what he has become by turning into their vampire forms and attacking their pray has a massive impact. Although we never see the transformations in process thanks to budget issues most likely, the colored contacts, make up and Joel Schumacher’s approach are enough to freak you out in all the right ways. The cumulative amount of blood and guts at the climax also adds that cult-classic horror camp that will put a stupid grin on the face of any of the genre’s fans.
Horror elements and vampires aside, “The Lost Boys” is 100 percent ’80s through and through with themes of broken families, fitting in and losers saving the day. It undoubtedly inspired some of the films of the early ’90s as well. In that sense, it’s not just a fun film, but an important one.
The Lost Boys (1987)
Directed by Joel Schumacher
Written by Janice Fischer and James Jeremias, Jeffrey Boam
Starring: Jason Patric, Corey Haim, Dianne Wiest, Kiefer Sutherland