A neon-lit 1980s vampire flick with punk rock vibes.
Streaming on HBO | 1987 | R | 1h 38m
Genre: Horror/Comedy, Cult Classic
Why I watched: There are two movies that I watch every single fall: The Lost Boys and It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. So this flick has been on the docket since September! Watching The Lost Boys is a nostalgia trip for me. My parents introduced my sister and me to the movie when we were kids. I introduced it to my husband Michael when we met back in high school. (And we definitely still quote one-off lines to one another at least once a month.) Now, I'm here to pass this stylized gem to all of you!
You might also like: Buffy the Vampire Slayer—the original 1992 movie, not the series—hews pretty closely in tone and decade to The Lost Boys (and is arguably more fun, especially for female viewers). It's streaming on Starz, which I've recently subscribed to because it seems to have a *way* better selection of movies these days. What We Do in the Shadows (on Amazon) offers another fun chaser. From the minds of Flight of the Concords, this is the quirkiest movie I've seen in a long, long time. It's filmed in the style of a faux reality show about vampire flat mates. (Bonus: What We Do in the Shadows includes a fun Lost Boys Easter egg.)
When The Lost Boys was released in 1987, it was for the eighties what Scream would be for the nineties. (And what Jennifer's Body should have been for the 2000s...) It mocks the form of its genre, adds a rock-and-roll soundtrack, plays unabashedly to a young adult audience, and embraces a serious-comedic attitude. As The New York Times put it when the movie first came out, "The Lost Boys doesn't reinvent vampire history; it's not timeless, but timely, sardonic and shrewd."
Directed by Joel Schumacher when he was fresh off of the Brat Pack's St. Elmos Fire (1985), this is equally a film about adolescence as it is about bloodsucking. The Lost Boys begins with two teenage brothers who are moving with their recently divorced mother to Santa Carla, California, murder capital of the world. Especially early on, the film relishes in the eeriness of the neon-lit boardwalk and in the punk rock fashion of the alienated young adults that populate the town. Kids walk around in leather jackets and spikes, with earrings dangling from a single ear as The Doors "People are Strange" plays in the background. This title song is really the ethos for the whole movie: Who's a vampire, and who's just a harmless weirdo?
The oldest brother Michael (Jason Patric) is the first to fall in with the former group, helmed by David (a very creepy mullet-sporting Kiefer Sutherland). The humor comes from preteen brother Sam—played perfectly by Corey Haim—who is entirely suburban in his reactions to a potentially undead sibling. When Michael begins lusting for blood, Sam reacts like any normal kid brother would. "My own brother," he yells, "a vampire. You wait till Mom finds out!" (And later, "You drank someone's blood! Are you crazy?"). Such lines could have been too cute, but Haim delivers them with expert comedic timing. To help with the comedy, enter Edgar and Alan Frog, two horror comic book nerds dressed like Rambo. Edgar is brought to life by Corey Feldman who, fresh off of back-to-back-to-back hits Gremlins (1984), The Goonies (1985), and Stand By Me (1986), handles the role with over-the-top aplomb. This is the first film in which "The Coreys" starred side-by-side, and you can sense their chemistry immediately.
Honestly, I challenge you not to have fun watching The Lost Boys. It offers something no other vampire movie to date has managed: A very eighties take on the genre, complete with Super Soakers filled with holy water and an awesomely bizarre soundtrack. And what's not to love about that?
PS: We promise to take a break from horror for awhile after this pick!