It should come as no surprise that the vampire craze is nothing new. We had fans shrieking about Bela Lugosi, Christopher and Frank Langella long before anyone was uttering the name Edward. But whether or not you’re over Joel Schumacher putting nipples on the Batman suit in “Batman and Robin”, its hard to ignore his contribution to the modern vampire genre in 1987’s The Lost Boys.
Taking from the name of the flying and undying youths of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, The Lost Boys centers on two brothers – Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim) – as they struggle to fit into a new town after this single mom (Dianne West) moves to the fictional Santa Carla. Soon enough, Michael begins hanging with a bad crowd when he takes an interest in Star (Jami Gertz), a beautiful woman in the company of a biker gang lead by David (Keifer Sutherland).
They proceed to initiate Michael into their number with the usual amount of rituals – including one scene which will scare you off Happy Wok for the foreseeable future. But after drinking blood-soaked wine and literally jumping off of a bridge, Michael soon finds himself in the throes of a mysterious transformation. His brother Sam’s new-found friends – self-proclaimed vampire hunters Edgar (Corey Feldman) and Alan (Jamison Newlander) brief Sam on the symptoms of vampirism – all of which Michael is exhibiting. In order to save Michael’s life as well as Star’s, the family must eliminate the master vampire that bit him – but that’s easier said than done when there is a biker gang of vamps coming for their blood.
The Lost Boys is the quintessential blockbuster vampire movie. It transplants the vampire – previously seen lingering in musty crypts and Gothic spires – onto the beaches of California. The resulting change in setting leads to a much more exciting film, as the biker vampires prove just as dangerous amid surfers and palm trees when the sun goes down. While Schumacher’s strange neon setting may have failed in Gotham City, it excels in the tropical settings of this mid-’80s vampire cult classic.
Like many other horror films of the time, the tone of Lost Boys sets it apart from its predecessors. The horror is played terrifyingly straight at times, with the bright orange California lighting making the vampires look even more horrific in the shadows. Still, the film is funny in a way that isn’t quite comedy or even horror-comedy.
The Frog Brother are bumbling in a way that gives the Fearless Vampires Hunter of Roman Polanski’s film a run for their money (oddly enough, the two went on to star as the heroes of two direct-to-DVD sequels and a comic book mini-series). This is probably for the best, as the main action occurs in the vampire-on-vampire fight between Michael and David in mid-air. Like numerous other films of the ’80s, the strange mixture of straight chills and cheesy camp make “The Lost Boys an easy film to like.
Schumacher apparently had a Lost Girls sequel circulating Hollywood, as of yet unmade. But with Schumacher’s new film Trespass hitting theaters soon, maybe we’ll soon see a sequel a lot more memorable than the aforementioned DVD sequels The Tribe and The Thirst. You can’t really blame them for holding off however. The original Lost Boys has one of the most memorable endings of a vampire film ever. Without giving too much away, it involves a Jeep, a sharpened two-by-four and the brother’s perpetually drunk grandfather.
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