Skip to main content

Empire List #438: The Lost Boys

Before Joel Schumacher went ahead and temporarily ruined the Batman franchise for all of use, he actually directed a terrific horror movie. The decade was the 80s, the cast included Corey Haim and Corey Feldman, and the monsters were vampires. Despite featuring one of the most overexposed movie monsters of our time, “The Lost Boys” stands out in the genre for its combination of horror, comedy, and great effects.

This being a cult film from the 80s, I first heard about it from movie websites and magazine articles. Mostly the articles complained about how the sequels that came out decades later were simply not as good as the original. Ever noticed that whenever a studio waits twenty years to make a sequel, it’s never as good as the original? Looking at you “Indiana Jones 4.” I got to see the original in this franchise when it was playing on TV on Halloween. I don’t know about the sequels, but this movie does seem pretty hard to top.

The film begins when Lucy Emerson (Diane Wiest) a just-divorced mother moves to the coastal town of Santa Clara with her two boys, Michael (Jason Patric) and younger brother Sam (Corey Haim). As they drive through town, the Doors’ “People are strange” is playing in the background. Appropriate, as their destination is filled with the sort of strange people you usually see on California beaches. They move into the house of their grandfather (Barnard Hughes) who among other things, practices taxidermy. Enjoy your new home, boys.

While exploring the boardwalk by the beach Sam meets Edgar and Alan Frog (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander), two young boys who apparently live alone and operate their own comic book store. The Frog brothers warn Sam the reason why so many people go missing at night in Santa Clara is the local vampire problem. They even advertise themselves as vampire hunters and give Sam tips on how to spot the blood sucking demons. Of course Sam shrugs off their warnings and goes off his merry way thinking they have read one too many comic books.

It turns out the Frogs warned the wrong brother. During Michael’s exploration of the town, he meets Star (Jami Gertz) a beautiful woman who hangs out with a local gang led by David (Kiefer Sutherland, years before he became Jack Bauer). David’s gang likes to party all night and live life on the edge. They race around town in motorcycles with total disregard for the safety of others or their own. They even hang under a bridge and dare Michael to let go. That should have given him a clue right there. Then they offer him a drink of something from a wine bottle, but it isn’t red wine.

Soon Sam begins to notice changes in his brother and thinks maybe these crazy Frog brothers might not be so crazy after all. When he returns to them, they explain the vampires have a leader, who once killed, will release the others from their curse. Suspicion fall on Max (Edward Herrmann) a local businessman who unfortunately is dating Sam’s mom. This leads to some funny moments during a dinner scene when the brothers try to expose Max with garlic and mirrors.

“The Lost Boys” knows all the clichés about vampire movies and plays with them. With all the sunlight in California, how would vampires survive in the daytime? Simple: they hang upside down in a cave like giant bats. Also if you shoot a vampire with holy water from a water pistol, will it burn its face? Worth a shot.
The production team placed a lot of effort into the cinematography. Most notably when the vampires are flying and the audience gets a P.O.V shot as the camera descends from the sky and heads for a potential victim. Kudos should also go to the make-up department. These are not the glittery vampires from “Twilight.” When they get burned by sunlight or impaled with wooden stakes, their skin gets toasted and the blood flows profusely. Some of the fights in the third act reminded me “Evil Dead II,” another cult classic from the 80s.

With all of these brutal gory films that came out during that decade, sometimes I feel sorry I was born in 86 and missed it all. From what I read the fashion was horrible, but the music and movies were awesome. The decade that gave us John Hughes also gave us Indiana Jones, the first “Die Hard,” and “Ghostbusters.” “The Lost Boys” is in good company.


Popular posts from this blog

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #70: Stand by Me

Another clear influence on Stranger Things, Rob Reiner’s Stand by Me (1986) portrays American kids from a lost era in which they could go on an adventure away from home. Nowadays if children go missing for more than an hour parents try to locate them using cell phone apps, but in the story written by Stephen King four boys in 1959 Oregon go walking in the woods during a long weekend to look for, of all things, a dead body. Their lives are sometimes at risk, they have no way of communicating with their parents, but they will definitely have a story to remember for the rest of their lives.
For many North Americans adults this movie fondly reminded them of a time in their childhood despite the inherent danger. Not so for me since, first of all, there was no time in my childhood when I could possibly go out of the house for more than three hours without my mom getting in her car to go look for me. The there is the fact that I spent a good chunk of my childhood living in Chile and Peru, an…

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #316: Trainspotting

In the 1990s Hollywood directors were the kings of cinema, whether it was for big summer blockbusters or smaller independent films. Guys like James Cameron or Michael Bay would blow up the screens while Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino put the emphasis on snappy dialogue that created relatable characters for the moviegoers. Then in 1996, as if to scream “we can do this too,” Danny Boyle released Trainspotting in the United Kingdom.
Based on a novel by Scottish novelist Irvine Welsh, the movie took the world by storm despite having no explosions, a cast of actors who were relatively unknown and a budget that today could barely pay for the catering of a Transformers movie. Furthermore this is not the story of young people going to college to enter a life full of promise, but about young heroine addicts meandering through the streets of Edinburgh. Despite introducing these characters during an energetic montage set to Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life, Danny Boyle and screenwriter John Hodge in …

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #364: Natural Born Killers

Natural Born Killers (1994) is not so much a movie as an American nightmare come to life. Loosely based on a story by Quentin Tarantino, starring some of the wildest actors in Hollywood at the time, and boasting a level of violence that unfortunately inspired copycat crimes, it is the textbook definition of controversial. In all fairness there are important messages amidst all the violent mayhem, but director Oliver Stone throws so much content at the screen that these messages can sometimes get lost in the carnage.
Even though the movie came out more than two decades ago it still has a legendary status, which I learned about while reading a chapter in a book about Tarantino’s career. The book, Quintessential Tarantino, contained a lot of interesting facts about the making of the movie and also spoiled the ending, but reading a few words that describe a killing spree is very different than seeing it portrayed on screen. A few years ago the director’s cut became available on Netflix, wh…