The Lost Boys, 1987.
Directed by Joel Schumacher.
Starring Jason Patric, Corey Haim, Corey Feldman, Jami Gertz, Dianne Wiest, Jamison Newlander, Barnard Hughes, Edward Hermann and Kiefer Sutherland.
After moving to a new town with their mother, a pair of brothers discover that their new home is a haven for a gang of vampires.
For decades, the cinematic depiction of vampires often followed a particular formula with these fanged beasts portrayed as sinister yet charming gentlemen of the night, often clad in capes and ridiculous accents. Then something happened; the 1980s. And suddenly vampires took on a very different look, a more youthful and sexier one. The source of this trend is easy to find, one of the most stylish horror films of the decade; Joel Schumacher’s cult favourite The Lost Boys.
To say that The Lost Boys is a product of its era is a bit like saying the EU is overly bureaucratic. From the opening moments of this film, you are transported back in time to the 80s in all its neon-soaked, fashion vomit, grotesque haired glory. Everything from the music, the direction, the pop culture references to the presence of Corey Feldman and Corey Haim make it feel like you’re watching a time capsule of a gloriously silly era of excess everything.
The plot is a bit thin on the ground with the introduction of the titular vampires and our heroes all done in a relatively short space of time with little information on the fanged creatures or our protagonists revealed. Yet, this lack of plot keeps the film moving along quickly using its lean 96-minute runtime to squeeze in as much craziness, style and fun that it possibly can.
The story is essentially a supernatural horror take on teenage anxieties, the stresses of moving to a new town and of trying to find a group to belong. We’ve all had that time our lives when we did crazy things to fit in with the cool kids, such as racing bikes to a cliff edge, hanging off a bridge and drinking blood. Come on we’ve all done it. The story also, creatively and hilariously, shows us all the trials and tribulations that come with growing pains of vampirism. Such as how to keep yourself balanced when you find yourself suddenly levitating or having to deal with your annoying sibling threatening to tattle to your mother that you are now an undead creature of the night. This approach to this story breathes new life into the well-worn cliches of the genre, while also being hugely funny and entertaining.
The characters, like the plot, might be underdeveloped, but the cast does a terrific job using what little they have, with their roles still managing to be fun and memorable. Corey Feldman, in particular, steals the show with his teenage Rambo/Van Helsing act, his dedication and straight-faced delivery making this frankly absurd character (complete with his hilariously ‘manly’ voice) the most entertaining of the film. Props also have to be given to Kiefer Sutherland who, while saying very little and looking like a budget Billy Idol, manages to create a mysterious and alluring character who commands you attention. That and he looks ridiculous.
While the film is short of character development and plot details, it more than makes up for these shortcomings by having gallons of style pouring from every frame. With The Lost Boys, Joel Schumacher (who sadly passed away earlier this year) demonstrates that he was a much better director than people give him credit for (certainly more than Batman & Robin would have you believe). Directing his film with a fast-paced highly visual style that has the camera swooping around like a bird (or a vampire bat) and with damn near every scene look like it’s about to break into a music video. It’s a classic example of style over substance that threatens to leave the film feeling somewhat empty and shallow, however, Schumacher’s enthusiastic direction is so intoxicating that it keeps you enthralled until the credits roll.
If I had any complaints about The Lost Boys is that, although it is great fun, there are a few dull spots in between the blood-sucking shenanigans. The stuff with Dianne Weist (while essential to the plot and despite fine acting) dragged things down for me, and I honestly wouldn’t have minded a little bit of extra character and story development, if only to flesh things out. And while the direction is suitably stylish, it can leave the film perhaps feeling too much like a music video, with some scenes feeling like something that you would have seen on MTV in its heyday. The action-packed finale in which our heroes battle an onslaught of the undead is an immensely fun ending though, as our heroes devise creative means to defeat their fanged foes. Often in skin melting, head popping, blood fountain spraying, fireplace exploding fashion. It’s bloody awesome stuff, but I do wish there had been more of it.
While it has issues with plot and character, the overpowering style, fun performances and the sheer entertainment factor ensure that, despite its flaws, The Lost Boys is an immensely fun thrill that transports you back to one of the most absurd and glorious times in history.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★