Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Lost Boys

"Sleep all day.  Party all night.  Never grow old.  Never die.  It's fun to be a vampire."
That's a great tagline.  For as many vampire films as there have been over the years, surprisingly few spend any time on the allure of the vampire existence.  "Sleep all day.  Party all night"?  Who wouldn't want to do that forever?  I mean, aside from adults.  But that's the point, isn't it?  The Lost Boys doesn't focus on vampires as monsters, and it doesn't spend a whole lot of time on eroticism.  This movie argues that teens would want to become vampires because being a vampire is cool.  And that is more than enough reason to be an emotionally stunted asshat for eternity, right?

Michael (Jason Patric) and his little brother, Sam (Corey Haim), have just moved to a new town with their mother (Dianne Wiest).  Santa Carla is not a particularly fun place to be a teen, despite the fact that it is a scenic California beach town.  In fact, local graffiti claims the town to be the murder capital of the world; if you can't trust graffiti for the facts, who can you trust?  Michael quickly becomes infatuated with Star (Jami Gertz), a mysterious and frequently blank-looking young woman with the name of a horse.  Sam has a slightly more difficult time finding his place in the community, probably because he dresses like a jackass.
Sam does, however, meet Edgar (Corey Feldman) and Alan Frog (Jamison Newlander) at the local comic shop.  The brothers give Sam some not-so-subtle hints that Santa Carla is crawling with vampires, but he doesn't take them seriously because...well, because they're obviously morons.  Unfortunately, the morons are right.  Michael's lust for Star leads to him spending a lot of time with her and her guy friends.  That would be awkward enough in most social contexts, but these dudes are all full-fledged vampires.  Of course, Michael doesn't realize that, despite a lot of weird stuff happening.  Sure, the weird stuff (hallucinations, excessive fog, death-defying stunts, etc.) don't necessarily spell out "vampire," but I probably wouldn't have wanted to hang out with those guys for long.  Michael, though, gives in to peer pressure and unwittingly starts becoming a vampire.  Of course, you can argue that everything he does in this story is "unwitting" because he's not a terribly bright fellow.
You can sulk, or you can prove me wrong.  And Speed 2 doesn't help your case.
So what does Michael do?  Does he give in to his vampire hunger?  Does he try to hold on to his humanity?  Will Sam help him or hunt him?  And what about Star?  Was she really named after a horse?

I remember seeing The Lost Boys, both as a teenager and a preteen, and I remembered it being pretty cool.  It wasn't mind-blowingly awesome and it didn't drive me to wear plastic fangs, but I was certainly entertained.  The adult Brian has a little more experience, though, and I am able to recognize that The Lost Boys is pretty ridiculous.  For starters, a group of teenagers gathers on the beach to fist-pump to Tim Capello rocking out with a saxophone.
I'll ignore the obvious questions of how likely fist-pumping is to synthesizer-heavy music and instead point out that greasy muscleheads with accessory fetishes are probably as irresistible to vampires as fried food is to Americans.  It looks like he drizzled himself in butter, doesn't it?  I don't believe that any vampire could resist murdering him.  There are other examples, like the unnaturally deep voices of the Frog Brothers, the remarkable amount of punk and goth kids in a small town, and the prevalence of male belly shirts (Sam even has a Rob Lowe belly shirt poster on his wall!), but this video clip made it hard for me to focus on anything else in detail.
So...vampires wax their body hair?

The acting in the film isn't bad, but it's definitely in tune to the silliness of the movie.  Corey Haim was actually pretty good as the non-vampire brother and Jason Patric was decent, if you can get past how stupid his character was.  Really?  You expect me to believe that you can't tell the difference between wine and blood?  If the iron and salt didn't clue you in, the coagulated chunks probably should have.  Idiot.  The real star of the movie, though, is Kiefer Sutherland as David, the teenvamp leader.  It's not that he turned in a fabulous performance, but he did seem like a pretty cool rebel.  He was a little too needy for my taste, with all the "join us, Michael," but he fits the teenage appeal of this movie perfectly.  The rest of the cast is relatively unimportant.  Alex Winter and the other vampires offer some campy fun, Diane Wiest is the stereotypically clueless parent, and Corey Feldman is kind of amusing as an amateur vampire hunter.  Edward Herrmann is probably the most convincing actor in the supporting cast, but that might be because he's playing a variation of his typical square characters.  For what this movie is --- a vampire movie aimed at teens --- I think the acting is more than adequate.
"We're not up to anything, mom...we just have to hide this corpse upstairs"

There is an awful lot of camp in this movie, though.  Director Joel Schumacher doesn't know how to manufacture convincing emotions from his actors, so he often resorts to having them overact.  Normally, this annoys me, but I think it fits this script fairly well.  This was Schumacher's first special effects-driven movie, though, and he handled those scenes terribly.  Never mind the random way each vampire reacted when they died and the sometimes awful makeup jobs.
I'm referring to the less demanding scenes that should have been handled better.  For instance, when the vampires fly, we get POV shots...showing where they've been.  Unless vampires fly backwards, that's pretty hard to explain.  Speaking of which, what was going on with the motorcycle headlights that caused wind gusts...and then vanished?  Were the vampires on their scooters, huffing and puffing until they flew their bikes into the night sky?  And where did the Frog Brothers manage to find so much garlic?  That had to have been around forty pounds.  What about the I-have-a-flashlight-shining-up-at-my-face lighting for Kiefer Sutherland in the climactic sequence? 
None of these, on its own, is too awful.  When you see that many silly things in one movie, though, they do start to become more noticeable.

All in all, though, The Lost Boys is good enough.  It could have been a lot darker and creepier if it kept the R-rating and stayed closer to the concept of Peter Pan as a vampire, but it does a pretty good job of making vampires seem cool.
"Let's go cause some anemia!"
It is certainly not a great film, but it's enjoyable and frequently unintentionally funny.  As a mainstream film, I think The Lost Boys has the right tone and attitude, but the last third of the movie is too ridiculous to be taken seriously.


  1. Love this film! Haim squeals and Feldman rocks! The climax in the house is epic (though, I agree, definitely not to be taken seriously!), especially when Star's kid gets all hungry for blood and the bathtub death!

  2. My favorite thing about the climax is all the different ways the vampires die. I just wish Kiefer would have had a cooler death --- he definitely should have melted or exploded or something.

  3. In case you're wondering there's a band called "Death by Stereo."

  4. That clip is simply magical. I am not too sure where you have a problem with anything going on there. Tim Capello: women want him and men want to be him.

  5. @DoD: and I'm sure they were influenced by this movie.

    @NB: I don't have a problem with the clip. It's just ridiculously awesome, which makes it hard to focus on anything else in the movie.

    While trying to find an embeddable version of that clip (I failed), I stumbled across a SNL skit featuring Jon Hamm as Tim Capello, playing that song in unexpected places. It's not bad, but certainly would have been funnier if it came out 25 years ago, back when people remembered Tim Capello.

  6. I don't even remember Tim Capello. All I know is that I ordered everything he has ever made from Amazon based solely on a two minute clip from your review. So you should feel like you accomplished something with this review. I am going to be rocking and fist pumping the night away tomorrow (I got next-day shipping).

  7. Oh yeah, can you justify Big Trouble in Little China as being a horror movie (it does have monsters in it)? If so, please review it this month.

  8. I am very excited for your day of Tim Capello immersion. You better get yourself some torso grease.

    As for Big Trouble, I've pretty much booked the rest of my month (which is very weird for me). I'll make it a priority for early November, though. It's been too long since I have witnessed Lo Pan's greatness.

  9. I just revisited this review and remembered ole Timmy Capello. I was excited to watch the clip again, but youtube terminated it!!! What an awful day!