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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Day 340: The Lost Boys

The Lost Boys
Not pictured: Starter jackets, LA Gear sneakers, and Jersey hair

Teen vampire movies weren't always relegated to crappy romance novel adaptations where people swoon over brooding bloodsuckers that sparkle in the sunlight and have strong religious overtones. In fact, the 1980's were full of vampire movies. We had Fright Night, the Jim Carey-starring Once Bitten, My Best Friend Is A Vampire, Lifeforce, and Near Dark. These weren't just one-note vampire movies either. Some were comedies, some were action/adventures, some were straight horror. There was one vampire movie from the 80's, though, that manage to touch on many different genres while encapsulating the very essence of the 1980's. That movie is The Lost Boys.

The Lost Boys is a 1987 teen vampire movie starring Corey Haim (License To Drive, Lucas) as Sam Emerson and Jason Patric (Sleepers, Narc) as his older brother Michael. Along with their mother Lucy (Dianne Wiest, Edward Scissorhands, Bullets Over Broadway), the boys move to Santa Clara, the supposed murder capital of the world, to live with their grandfather. Michael and Sam hang out on the boardwalk when Michael spots a beautiful girl named Star (Jami Gertz, Less Than Zero, Sixteen Candles) and pursues her. She runs with a gang lead by the mysterious vampire David (Kiefer Sutherland, 24, Mirrors). Wanting to stay with Star, Michael goes along with David as the gang initiates him through various dares and challengers. Michael drinks from a bottle containing blood, thus beginning his transformation. Meanwhile, Sam visits a comic book store where he meets Edgar Frog (Corey Feldman, The Goonies, Stand By Me) and his brother Alan (Jamison Newlander, The Blob, Lost Boys: The Tribe). They insist that Sam read a comic called “Vampires Everywhere!”, warning him that it could save his life. The next day, Michael develops a thirst for blood and is sensitive to sunlight. He is even attacked by Sam's normally docile dog Nanook. After retreating to his room, Michael begins to levitate and fly against his will, terrifying Sam and prompting Lucy to come home from her date with Max (Edward Herrmann, Gilmore Girls, The Aviator). Sam discovers that his brother is only half-vampire and his humanity could still be restored by killing the head vampire. Sam and the Frog brothers believe that Max is the head vampire and put him through various tests made to look like accidents. He passes them though, leaving the boys without a clue as to who the head vampire may be. After an incident where the vampires kill some surfers, Star visits Michael, revealing that she too is half-vampire and that she wants to be cured as well. They all travel to the vampire's hideout and stake one vampire (Alex Winters, Bill from Bill & Ted's Excellent Journey) but must flee when the rest wake up. That night, the teens arm themselves with weapons to fight against the vampires. Who is the head vampire and will Sam be able to free his brother before it is too late?

"What? I can't hear you over that hideous shirt!"

If aliens ever came to our planet and wanted to know what the 1980's were all about, you'd show them The Lost Boys (or maybe Mannequin if you were feeling mean). The culture, the clothes, the mullets, the music. All that was really missing was Hulk Hogan and some power suits with shoulder pads. It's all so very 80's and I mean that in a good way. While the movie is geared towards teens and horror fans, the story is quite entertaining. It mixes action, adventure, teen angst, and comedy without ever really losing it's horror edge. Granted, it's still teen-friendly, but that's just a movie knowing it's audience. The movie focuses on both Michael and Sam, giving the movie a wider range of teen and young adult fans. There are some scares and some blood, but not enough to keep the average non-horror fan away. The humor isn't overpowering, but it lightens the mood when necessary.

The movie's visual style is quite striking with beautiful sweeping shots of the ocean combined with a soaring musical score. The Lost Boys proves that Joel Schumacher, the man who directed such stinkers as The Number 23, Batman Forever, and Batman & Robin) can actually direct. The action is decent and thanks to some prosthetics and color contacts, the vampires don't look half bad. The movie is helped greatly by the good performances from Kiefer Sutherland, Jason Patric and the two Coreys. While most modern audiences are used to the badass Jack Bower Kiefer Sutherland, it's nice to see him play a villain so well. He plays the vampire David with a sly, dangerous edge, like he's the cool older kid in high school that wears a leather jacket and hangs outside during lunch. Corey Haim is good as the younger brother, serving as a solid avatar for the audience. The ending is a bit of a blow-off, but in that special 80's way where everything is perfectly fine.

We call that "Cold Toilet" face

The Lost Boys has found a wide audience and thanks to a high nostalgia factor, two sequels have come out in recent years. It's one of the quintessential teenage movies from the 80's along with The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. It's a fun little story that combines a lot of different genres with relatable teenage angst. The undercurrent story of teens moving to a new place, falling into the wrong crowd, and their mother dating is all a clever parallel to the problems that many in the audience face. The movie has some good action, but it may not be enough for true horror fans. The acting is good and it's fun to see all the wonderful things from the 1980's. Whether you're feeling nostalgic or just need a fun, relatively harmless horror movie, The Lost Boys is worth the watch.


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