Written by: Janice Fischer, James Jeremias, and Jeffrey Boam
Directed by: Joel Schumacher
Starring: Feldog & Haimster, Jason Patric, Kiefer Sutherland, and Jamison Newlander
Reviewed by: Brett G.
"My own brother, a goddamn, shit-sucking vampire. You wait 'till mom finds out, buddy!"
Perhaps more than any other horror sub-genre, the vampire film has been subject to radical reinterpretations over the years. Ranging from the overtly gothic early films such as Nosferatu and the Universal Dracula to the revisionist Vampire/Western hybrid, Near Dark, the vampire legend has seen hundreds of incarnations. One thing that has pervaded these films since Bela Lugosi's Dracula is a sense of coolness associated with being a vampire. Sure, Lugosi was also creepy, but there was something suave about him too, and Christopher Lee took that coolness to another level in the Hammer films. Thus, it should come as no surprise that a film would come along and exploit this aspect of the vampire myth and mix in a few laughs and lovable characters in the process. The result is The Lost Boys, which, simply put, is one of the coolest films of all time. As horror fans, we often turn to the genre for shocking gore and disturbing images, but sometimes you just want something cool and fun. The Lost Boys is one of the most satisfying films ever made in this respect, and, for this reviewer, provides one of the greatest nostalgic trips ever to a more innocent time: the 1980s. Say what you want about the fashion, but this decade produced some of my favorite films of all time, including The Lost Boys.
In the film, Michael and Sam Emerson have moved from Arizona to California with their divorced mother. Specifically, they have moved to Santa Carla, the so called "Murder Capital of the World," a coastal town with a gang problem and a rash of unexplained disappearances. It doesn't take long for the eldest of the two, Michael, to take an eye to a local girl named Star out on the town boardwalk. Little does he know, Star is associated with a gang; however, this is not any ordinary gang. Instead, it's a gang of vampires who sleep all day and party all night. Before long, Michael is drawn into the crowed, much to the dismay of his brother Sam. Luckily, however, Santa Clara is also home to resident vampire hunters, Edgar and Alan Frog, who take up the cause of helping Sam rescue Michael from the clutches of the bloodsucking Brady Bunch.
I freely admit my fanboy love for The Lost Boys. I first saw the flick back when I was a kid, and it still stands up today despite the fact that I've seen it dozens of times. It's the perfect mix of comedy, memorable characters, a dope soundtrack, and a tight storyline with plenty of twists and turns along the way. It takes everything you know about the vampire myth (garlic, crosses, holy water, etc.) and places it firmly within an 80s teen comedy aesthetic, and it works wonderfully. The vampires here aren't creepy guys living off in some abandoned mansion; instead, they're basically the cool kids that everybody wants to be like, and the Frog Brothers are equally as cool.
What makes the film work so well is the cast of characters assembled. You've got Kiefer Sutherland as the leader of the pack, David, and among is crew is Bill S. Preston, Esq. himself, Alex Winter. The eponymous Lost Boys are a crew that makes being a vampire seem alluring, and the film's tagline plays up this fact: "Sleep All Day, Party all Night--It's Fun to be a Vampire." It's no wonder that Michael gets drawn in my the allure of such a lifestyle, and the chemistry between him and Haimster works well throughout the film. Haimster makes you feel Sam's desperation for his brother's descent into vampirism, and the entire film hinges on this relationship.
Of course, by mentioning Haimster, I inevitably have to turn to the second half of the Corey duo: Feldog, who plays Edgar, one of the Frog Brothers who have learned all they need to know about vampires from comic books. While many horror films that employ teenage or child protagonists come across as awkward or juvenile, The Lost Boys works because Feldog truly sells the character. The notion of a couple of comic book nerds being expert vampire hunters is truly absurd, but it works here, and leads to several humorous interactions and sequences in the film. When talking about the cast, I'd be remiss to ignore my favorite character in the film: the Emersons' grandfather, played by the late great Barnard Hughes. In a film filled with a young cast, its eldest member steals the show by getting all the film's best lines, including the final one.
While the characters are truly the hallmark of the film, I don't want to sell the other aspects short: Joel Schumacher's direction is slick, and I daresay The Lost Boys a downright classy film considering the subject matter. How this is the same guy responsible for the ever-atrocious Batman and Robin is beyond me because The Lost Boys is visually stunning at times. Finally, one of the most important pieces of the puzzle is the soundtrack, which consists of a ton of rocking tunes, including "Cry Little Sister," "Lost in the Shadows," and "I Still Believe." Tim Cappello, who performs the latter song, even makes an appearance in the film that will forever go down in history as the greatest performance ever featuring a saxophone. There aren't many films that have a soundtrack that will immediately evoke the feeling of a film like The Lost Boys; in fact, I own the soundtrack, rock it frequently, and always feel compelled to throw in the flick.
Put simply, The Lost Boys is not only an essential vampire film, but an essential 80s film. It has the indescribable look and feel of the decade, and they just don't make them like this anymore. The presence of the two Coreys makes this an even bigger nostalgia trip, especially considering what the world has done to Haimster in the past fifteen years. This is without a doubt the best film featuring both of the 80s legends, and it's required viewing for anyone that claims to be a fan of 80s cinema. Unlike the aforementioned Near Dark (also released in '87), The Lost Boys doesn't intend to deconstruct and revise the cinematic legacy of vampires; instead, it fully embraces this legacy and entertains the hell out of you in the process. As a horror film, The Lost Boys isn't likely to fully fulfill your blood-lust, and the film isn't really predicated on many scares. There are some nice suspenseful moments, but the film is more action-oriented than anything.
If you don't already have the film on DVD (and honestly, there's no excuse for this), it is currently available in two separate editions. There's a bare-bones, snapper-case edition that was released by Warners back in the early days of the format, but there's also a nice two-disc special edition with a host of special features, including a commentary by Schumacher, a retrospective on the film, a feature on the special effects, and sixteen deleted scenes. There's also a feature titled "Haimster and Feldog: The Story of the 2 Coreys," which is required viewing. The video and audio presentation is also excellent, as the film was expertly restored for this new release. Of the two DVD releases, go with the special edition--it's worth it. There's also the recently released Blu-ray versions for the high-def hounds, and I can report that the film has never looked or sounded better than it has on this release; simply put, Warners has added to their excellent high-def track record with this release. Ultimately, it doesn't matter what format you own this one on because it's one of the most entertaining horror films you'll ever run in to, whether you're a child of the 80s or not. Essential!
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