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Lost Boys – The Tribe (2008)

by on 2010/02/20

Goo. Big slurping, slopping buckets of it.  Like Point Break with pus, Lost Boys – The Tribe brings us the follow up to Joel Schumacher’s Lost Boys (1987). This incarnation is a Lost Boys designed for the gore-inured, youtube generation.

Now with surfers.

First things first, not since  Rodriquez’ Dusk Till Dawn (1996) have vampires been dispatched in such a horrific fashion.  This is not your mother’s Christopher Lee Dracula, who had the good breeding to evaporate into dust when offed. These vampires are quivering sacks of gelatin waiting to spout gore when staked. We are warned early and often: No vampire goes the same way. The film delivers on this promise again and again, each vile, sloshy death worse than the first.

This is saying a very great deal particularly after the first scene. Cult favorite Tom Savini welcomes us  –  in all his Sex Machine-, silk robe-wearing glory.  He’s powerful vampire badass with a sizeable chunk of  beachfront property.  The cameo is a particularly gruesome piece of turn-about as Savini’s character is gouged to death by a bunch of wave-squatting vampire teens –  a scene complete with Night of the Living Dead entrail chomping.

For fans of the original, there are a few solid casting touches. Angus Sutherland – Kiefer’s brother – plays Shane, the lead vampire of the undead surfers. Unfortunately Angus has none of his brother’s sinister smarm and coiled-to-strike menace. I find Kiefer geniunely scary in everything he does, even the commercial voice work for Ford.

Angus exudes a rather more languid, so-bored-I’m-cool quality. Boy-band cute but not scary.

I liked the original very much. Corey Feldman is back like an old friend fallen on hard times. This film gives us a chance to visit Edgar Frog years later, living in trailer park sqaulor, shaping surf boards and fighting vampires.

Feldman is by far the most interesting character in the film and carries the scenes he’s in. Another confession: I did watch parts of The Two Coreys reality show – the A&E trainwreck I couldn’t wrench myself away from when it was on – and the after-thought epilogue inclusion of Corey Haim made me wonder if the scene was filmed separately days apart and stitched together later. (Hmm, I could probably find that out in the extras but I’m sleepy).

Overall, the vampires are as different from Twilight‘s Edward as a fluffy, de-clawed kitten is from serial killer Richard Ramirez.  The immortal teens of Luna Bay, CA are blood-splattered frat boys with fangs. Their interests involve drinking beer with co-eds and disemboweling each other for laughs, posting their Jackass-style videos on youtube. Definitely don’t try the stunt with the sword straight through the lower bowel at home.

The plot revolves around the ups and downs of hapless brother and sister, Chris and Nicole. The pair move to Luna Bay to live with unsympathetic aunt (Gabrielle Rose) after their parents’ death. Chris, played by Tad Hilgenbrinck (former of American Pie Presents Band Camp) and Nicole played by Autumn Reeser (late of Entourage). The two are not entirely unwatchable characters but the overall finds them somewhat bland with a capital B-L-A.

Chris is driven to kill the lead vampire when his sister finds herself in the thrall of the bike-racing,  flask-swilling surfer dude literally within hours of arrving in the new town. Nicole begins to turn and if her thirst for human blood is consummated, she’ll be undead forever. Chris is forced to go deep undercover to get close enough to these stab-happy vamps to kill Shane.

Director P.J. Pesce selected some geniunely compelling venues for the film– from the dank, dismal plank-board rental property brother and sister move into at the beginning of the film (complete with tip-of-the-hat taxidermy). I liked the vampires’ secret lair, the board walks and the beach out-buildings used as a killing fields.  There were moments of solid atmosphere and some nice attention to detail in this film.

The Tribe Uncut won’t disappoint fans of full-frontal nudity either, with some extended make-out scenes with she-vamps gone wild. The most compelling death scene of all comes when the hottest of the predatory lady suckers is driven into a rack of antlers and turned to alabaster. It really brings one back to the antler scene with Kiefer. But this time it has boobs and a well-executed computer-generated disintegration.

For fans of the original, it is good to find yourself back with a few familar faces. Yet the magic of the first movie lay in the juxtaposition of the idyllic, sun-washed beachside town and the festering underbelly of a night-time filled with terror.

With The Tribe, we are plunged headlong into the underbelly almost immediately. In fact we get to slither around in the vicera for 94 minutes – with none of the interesting stranger-in-a-strange-town-with-something-to-hide build up.

I hope the planned, Lost Boys, The Thirst, the third in the series, will bring back some of the winning elements of the original.

As one user review in IMDB asked plaintively, “Is it weird that I actually liked this movie?” I felt the same wobbly  ambivalence at the end credits. I guess the answer came when instead of chucking it into my ‘To-Sell’ pile, I placed it carefully in order behind the original on my vampire wall.

All I ask is – please don’t watch this film while eating pudding.

* * *

R for strong vampire violence and gore, language, sexuality and some drug use.

92 minutes

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