If you were young in the 1980s, there was one movie that is universally liked and that’s The Lost Boys. As of matter of fact, you probably can’t find a single Gen Xer who has one negative thing to say about this movie, which was released this weekend in 1987.
Recently, I did a post about Richard Donner. He was a producer on this movie but it’s Joel Schumacher’s baby and looks it. There’s a sexy cool feeling to a group of vampires who dress like punk rockers, drive motorcycles and piss off adults. And they occasionally have to kill people in order to feed.
These weren’t the Millenials’ vampires who sparkled and were mostly for the appeasement of grown overweight women who were Team Edward or Team Jacob. No, everyone was all for both Jason Patric as Michael and Keifer Sutherland as David as vampire sandwich. The movie even has an underlying homoerotic tone that many didn’t pick up on. But if they did, who cares?
While many teenage boys didn’t have posters of a shirtless Rob Lowe in their closest, Sam (Corey Haim) does. But so what? Gen Xers are more tolerant of the LGBTQ community.
Sam and Michael are brothers who have moved from Phoenix with their mother, Lucy (Dianne Weist) to live with their estranged but eccentric grandfather (Barnard Hughes) in the coastal town of Santa Clara, Calif.
But there’s trouble as David appears to be the leader of a quad of vampires, Marko (Alex Winter), Paul (Brooke Carter) and Dwayne (Billy Wirth). Michael befriends them when he is attracted to a very beautiful young woman, Star (Jami Gertz) who he thinks may be David’s girlfriend.
Sam also becomes acquainted with the Frog Brothers, Edgar (Corey Feldman) and Alan (Jamison Newlander), two militant vampire hunters who work for their hippie parents at their comic-book store on the boardwalk. I’ve always thought it’s hilarious that their parents are hardly shown but when they are, they are sleeping behind the counter.
Lucy gets a job also on the boardwalk at a video and music store and attracts the eye of the owner, Max (Edward Hermann).
After Michael drinks David’s blood thinking its wine, he starts to exhibit signs of being a vampire (having not much of a reflection in a mirror, an aversion to sunlight and even his body floating in the air). His behavior along with Sam’s fear when discovering it begins to upset Lucy who thinks both her sons are acting out because of the move and her budding relationship with Max.
I think this is what appeals to many young viewers upon release and over the years. Lucy seems to be unable to listen to her children when they need her to. During one scene when Sam is trying to warn her, she keeps assuming it’s all about Max. Even when he yells at her it has nothing to do with Max, she still ignores and dismisses him.
How many young people can relate to this? You try to tell your parents one think but they think it’s something else. Worse, they have to make it about themselves.
At the same time, Michael wants his mother to just leave him alone as he handles this change. But she keeps persisting and even getting him upset. It’s really a tough role for Wiest because she is playing a very annoying and unlikeable character as she’s too busy putting her needs above her children.
Winter said in a recent documentary interview, there’s similarities between The Lost Boys and Rebel Without A Cause. That latter movie focused on the Silent Generation being raised in a post-WWII era by the Greatest Generation.
Lucy and Max are Baby Boomers. Sam and Michael are Gen Xers living in the post Vietnam War conservative Reaganeighties. There is a generational divide between them. Michael is going through changes. His age is never revealed but I’m guessing he’s probably 17 because Lucy makes a mention of things changing when school starts. I’m also guessing Sam is 15 because he knows how to drive.
Eventually, Michael discovers that his new friends are vampires and the only way he’ll survive is if he kills like them. He watches them attack and feast on some surf Nazis. Michael now knows what graffiti advertising the town as the “Murder Capital of the World” means as there are missing person posters around the town.
He also learns that Star and her younger brother, Laddie (Chance Michael Corbitt) are also vampires-in-training more or less and that Michael was supposed to be Star’s first kill, but she’s fallen in love with him. As their bodies are growing weak from not feasting on blood, Sam and the Frog Brothers are brought in to kill the vampires as it’s believed if you kill the Head Vampire, they’ll go back to normal.
This leads to some gory and somewhat funny violence as they find themselves not realizing that when you stab vampires through the heart, it can get messy.
During one of the most notable deaths, Dwayne is shot by Sam with an arrow and his body goes flying back into a stereo that comes on with music as his body somehow catches on fire and explodes with the stereo leading Sam to utter the line, “Death by stereo.”
And The Lost Boys was part of the MTV Generation. I remember seeing music videos repeatedly shown during the summer and early fall of 1987. Schumacher is known for making very extravagant movies.
One of the most memorable scenes involve Sam and Michael attending an outside concert as Tim Capello, sings and blows some mean sax while performing “I Still Believe” as the youth cheer, clap their hands and bang their heads. The scene is only a minute or so long but it’s become so iconic with the movie.
This wasn’t Bela Lugosi or Christopher Lee performing some classical Victorian-era vampire in old European castles. These were teenage vampires who just wanted to stay out all night on the beach and have fun. And they had to kill in order to eat.
This was the first of what became known as The Two Coreys movies as both Haim and Feldman quickly became friends and competitors for roles. Patric, the son of actor Jason Miller, would find some competition from his younger half-brother Joshua John Miller, who would later appear in the neo-western vampire movie Near Dark.
Vampires had obviously changed in the eyes of a new generation. When Neil Jordan was tapped to direct the long-awaited adaptation of Interview With The Vampire, he knew well not to hire a bunch of classically trained thespians, but to go to the heart (no pun intended) or what filmgoers wanted to see. Therefore, he cast Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise and Antonio Banderas. While the casting of Cruise was initially criticized, it probably helped contribute to the success.
A generation later, the Twilight and True Blood books continued to cast young attractive actors as blood-suckers. This is not saying that Lugosi nor Lee were chopped liver. It just seems the target audience was wanting to see their peers not their elders taking a bite out of the roles.
Sadly, many of the cast are no longer with us. Haim died in 2010 following years of physical health problems, some caused by his own substance abuse problems. Hughes, Hermann and Carter have also since passed.
But as long as The Lost Boys continues to find newer audiences, it’ll live on hopefully forever.