The Lost Boys (1987) / Horror-Comedy
MPAA Rated: R for violence, gore, sensuality, and language
Running Time: 97 min.
Cast: Jason Patric, Corey Haim, Kiefer Sutherland, Dianne Wiest, Jami Gertz, Barnard Hughes, Corey Feldman, Edward Herrmann, Jamison Newlander, Brooke McCarter, Billy Worth, Alex Winter
Director: Joel Schumacher
Screenplay: Jeffrey Boam, Janice Fisher, James Jeremias
Review published August 13, 2006
Lucy Emerson (Wiest, Radio Days) is a divorced mother of two sons, Michael (Patric, After Dark My Sweet) and Sam (Haim, Lucas), who relocates to the strange oceanside California town of Santa Carla, which is filled with a mix of punk and hippie cultures. The residents of Santa Carla have taken to calling it the "murder capital of the world", with deaths and disappearances occurring on an increasingly frequent basis. Kiefer Sutherland (Stand by Me, Bright Lights Big City) plays David, the leader of a motorcycle gang that has been terrorizing the community, and one of the members, a sexy female named Star (Gertz, Crossroads), has taken a mutual liking to Michael. Michael wants to get closer to Star, but this proves to be a risk, as David makes him a member of the gang through a blood ritual that ends up turning Michael into a half-vampire (not full until he makes his first kill). With Star's help, along with his brother Sam, Michael has to find a way to reverse the curse.
Although it has its following, especially from those that enjoy the TV shows which borrow the style of mixing humor, camp and horror (like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"), The Lost Boys (the title is a Peter Pan allusion) is an interesting but ultimately silly vampire flick that can't be taken all that seriously, even during the moments where it tries to be. All in all, perhaps its fun for those that regularly feed on teen clique flicks and not-too-serious horror, but it's too goofy and contrived to please those expecting more than base pleasures.
The best things about The Lost Boys are the bells and whistles. It sports a solid soundtrack, good location shots (set in Santa Cruz), nice cinematography from Michael Chapman (The Last Waltz, Taxi Driver), and an effective score by veteran Thomas Newman (Revenge of the Nerds, The Shawshank Redemption). A colorful cast does help flesh out the thin characterizations, with memorable bits for Sutherland, the Coreys (Haim and Feldman), and Barnard Hughes, who plays the grandfather.
The Lost Boys is a popcorn flick, easily digested but far from a real meal. If you just want 90+ minutes of watchable vampire fodder, it certainly will fit the bill. It will also be of appeal to those that enjoy the 1980s, especially the teen films made in that era. By today's standards, The Lost Boys is dated. but that has also become part of the charm. It's like The Goonies meets Rebel Without a Cause, but with vampires, and that last gimmick alone makes it somehow appealing enough for horror fans.
Alas, while certainly slickly produced, it's just too shallow and empty at its core to recommend to anyone not a genre fan. Personally speaking, I think Near Dark, released the same year, took the teen romance/vampire film into a much more interesting direction, and recommend that instead.
©2006 Vince Leo