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The Lost Boys (1987)

by on 2011/01/15

You never forget your first.

The Lost Boys series holds a very special place in my black, black heart for a variety of reasons.

First, I was pretty passionate about this very, very 80s take on vampires and big-haired youth culture when I was a big-haired 80s youth. Second, Lost Boys: The Tribe was my first venture into film reviews for this site, after a years-long hiatus from journalistic writing.

This first of the series was directed by Joel Schumacher, long before he was off giving the Dark Knight a tiny codpiece and pointy nipples. The Lost Boys is the story of two brothers, uprooted from their Arizona home and moved to Santa Carla, CA, “The Murder Capital of the World.”

Their ditzy mom Lucy, played by the wonderful Dianne Wiest, is starting over after her divorce from the boys’ father. Jobless and penniless, she has to move into her father’s home – a horror show of taxidermied roadkill and antlers. The eldest brother, taciturn Michael (Jason Patric) and youngest, the smart-alecky Sam (Corey Haim) are none too pleased about their downward mobility. It didn’t help Grandpa (Barnard Hughes) greeted them by feigning death on the porch.

The roadside graffiti declaring Santa Clara a very bad place is absolutely correct – as we discover when mom takes the kids to the boardwalk. Missing children posters cake over the walls and telephone poles, and there’s a wrong, dangerous energy everywhere. Girls with spiky hairstyles kiss rats, packs of scruffy kids scatter like beaten dogs, and a particularly edgy band of local motorcycle toughs harass boardwalk patrons and business folk alike.

This brilliantly done intro to Santa Carla is scored by The Doors song “People Are Strange.” This movie did prompt a fleeting interest in The Doors, until I realized nothing else The Doors did sounded like this particular song. I wandered back to The Cure where I belonged.

Michael (Patric) is struck by the figurative lightning bolt – colpo di fulmine. He sees a girl in the crowd at a Timmy Capello concert no less. Remember that muscle-bound saxophonist who seemingly backed everyone in the 80s? Capello, slicked in Mazola oil with chains around his neck, inhabits this sinister, late 80s world perfectly.

And the girl? I had a bit of trouble accepting Jami Gertz as a lovely damsel in distress. I so strongly associated Gertz with her hateful character Muffy B. Tepperman in the short-lived TV series Square Pegs (1982-83), that seeing her as Star, the wide-eyed ingénue, was difficult.

Star draws Michael into the dark, underground world of David’s gang. David (Kiefer Sutherland) is a platinum-haired sociopath who lives with his leather-clad, hair-band buddies in a ruined old resort. Sutherland positively radiates danger and menace in this role – I personally think he’s scarier without the makeup.

As we soon discover, David and his gang are a lot more than juvenile delinquents. As Michael is drawn further and further into David’s world, he starts lusting for the blood of his brother Sam.

I can’t believe it has taken me this long to mention the Brothers Frog – for me, they represent some of the very best elements of this movie.  Sam solicits the help of Edgar (Corey Feldman) and Alan (Jamison Newland), hilariously earnest comic book sellers and self-proclaimed vampire hunters . Their help, or lack thereof, provides some of the best, comic-horror moments of the film.

As I said in my Lost Boys: The Tribe (2008) review, the magic of this first movie lies in the juxtaposition of the idyllic, sun-washed beachside town and the festering underbelly of a night-time filled with terror.

While the hairdos might not make any sense to us now, this movie continues to hold me in its thrall. Stay tuned for my review of Lost Boys: The Thirst (2010) to complete the set.

R.I.P Corey Haim

* * * *

R for some, strong vampire violence and gore, language and some sexuality

97 minutes

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