You don’t need an invitation to join us in celebrating the 30th anniversary of the immortal vampire classic
THOU SHALL NOT KILL
Vampires have existed in the deep recesses of fiction and folklore for centuries. Each new tale adds something fresh to the Vampire mythology. So it would come as no surprise that with the invention of motion picture technology in the early 1900s, the Vampire would have yet another medium to take over. NOSFERATU is one of the earliest and well known silent horror films to feature a Vampire front and center as its main character. Universal Pictures would release their own Vampire film with the immortal classic DRACULA starring Bela Lugosi as the titular character.
Since then horror fans have gotten their fill of Undead Bloodsuckers over the years with some classic tales and some not so memorable. FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, THE BLADE TRILOGY, JOHN CARPENTER’S VAMPIRES, ONCE BITTEN, DRACULA DEAD AND LOVING IT, LOVE AT FIRST BITE, THE VAMPIRE DIARIES, TRUE BLOOD and TWILIGHT are but a few of the hits and misses in the Vampire subgenre (I’ll leave it up to you to decide where each one goes).
FRIGHT NIGHT and NEAR DARK are just 2 parts of the Bloodsucking Trifecta started in the 80s. The 3rd and most crucial piece of that puzzle would actually be released the same year as NEAR DARK — a piece that is still as relevant and fresh as the day it was released.
THE LOST BOYS would change the vampire genre forever.
THEY’RE ONLY NOODLES MICHAEL
In the mid-to-late 80s, the Slasher Film was starting to peter out. Yet horror fans were still thirsty for blood. Richard Donner was looking to quench that thirst with his next project. Donner — well known by all film and fear fans as the director behind THE OMEN, SUPERMAN:THE MOVIE, SCROOGED, THE LETHAL WEAPON FILMS, and, of course, the rite of passage for all 80s babies and beyond, THE GOONIES — was looking to direct a fun vampire film.
Ironically, the original script was basically The Goonies meet vampires. While Donner and Warner Bros liked the idea, he had to drop out due to LETHAL WEAPON, leaving the director’s chair wide open. Enter Joel Schumacher. Shumacher’s previous directorial endeavors, D.C. CAB and ST. ELMO’S FIRE, were enough to convince Donner’s wife that he would be the perfect choice to fill the director’s chair for THE LOST BOYS.
One of the first things Schumacher did was change the direction of the script, replacing little kids with teen and young adult actors. The kid friendly PG/PG-13 tone was replaced with an edgier, gory, sexy R rating. It was Shumacher’s belief that vampires are sexy creatures of the night. Predators who use their charming wit to seduce their prey. We can all agree that was the smartest thing for all involved. Schumacher wisely cast veteran, established actors in the adult/authority roles to counter act the young Hollywood actors that filled up the majority of the film.
THE LOST BOYS was truly an ensemble cast of actors and actresses, that would all go on to make the picture the absolute definition of the word classic.
THIS IS AS CLOSE TO TOWN AS I LIKE TO GET
It’s nearly impossible to not discuss the fictional town of Santa Carla, California, which serves as the movie’s setting. The little hamlet of Santa Carla is just as much a character of the film as The Frog Brothers. It appears to be a quirky little town on the surface during the day, yet feels ominous and sinister during the darkness of night. “It smells like death!” Sam, played by the late Corey Haim, exclaims as he, his mother and older brother Michael make their entrance into their new home.
A WELCOME TO SANTA CARLA billboard greets them, as Michael notices that on the back it reads THE MURDER CAPITAL OF THE WORLD in graffiti. As we would soon find out later in the film, the town’s nefarious nickname is well earned by the nocturnal bloodlusting of David and the rest of the Vampire pack. Santa Cruz is the actual location where THE LOST BOYS was filmed and is still a hot horror tourist spot to this day. Fans travel from all over the world to view locations and take pictures to this day.
THE BLOODSUCKING BRADY BUNCH
Funny, Sexy, Scary, and Cool are all great ways to describe THE LOST BOYS. However, 2 major themes that are prevalent throughout the film should be the better way to describe it. Peer Pressure is one theme of the movie that is often overlooked by a lot of people. David and his crew are constantly pressuring Michael into doing things he wouldn’t normally do on his own. By making him drink the “wine” or hanging from train tracks, Michael is doing things to try and fit in with these people. This is the equivalent of a teen who is underage drinking or smoking a joint with their friends for fear of not fitting in or being ostracized for not wanting to partake in those activities. Michael is the one that audiences should identify with the most as we have all been put in similar positions.
Family is the other major theme of the film. Whether it is the Emersons or Laddie and Star or even Max and The Lost Boys, the idea of family is a strong theme that is pretty obvious upfront from the start of the film. While Max is the film’s ultimate villain and his plan might seem sinister, all he is truly doing is unifying “his boys” with Lucy’s boys to make one big happy family. Again, not condoning Max’s plan of attack, but his intentions are actually good if you consider what he says during his final monologue.
If any 2 characters represent the family dynamic the best throughout the movie, it’s The Frog Brothers. Edgar and Alan Frog, the teenage vampire hunters of Santa Carla. Not only are they loyal to each other and Sam, but they also look out for each other. Wisely played straight and deadly serious, they are the comic relief and are also the strongest family unit in the film. When the shit starts to really hit the fan, they can be counted on to stick together and get their hands dirty.
WHAT’D YOU DO TO MY DOG YOU ASSHOLE?
Not mentioning the brave Alaskan Malamute, Nanook, would be a cardinal sin. Sam’s dog is not only a loyal sidekick, but also his greatest protector when things go from bad to worse. When Michael starts to get his first real bloodlust, he goes to attack his little brother, who is busy taking a bath. Nanook sensing the danger, selflessly lunges at him and attacks him long enough for Sam to be out of harm’s way. Later on in the film he comes to the aid of The Frog Brothers, as they are clearly losing an uphill battle to Paul (played by the late, great Brooke McCarter).
Once again sensing danger, Nanook jumps at Paul, successfully sending him to the True Death in a bathtub full of holy water. In a film that stars The Coreys, Jason Patric, the late, great Edward Hermann, Academy Award Winner Dianne Weist, Jami Gertz, and Kiefer Sutherland…it says a lot when all masters of their craft are upstaged by the playful Nanook.
DEATH BY STEREO
The soundtrack for THE LOST BOYS has gone on to become just as much of a cult favorite as the movie itself. From Echo and The Bunnymen covering The Doors’ classic “People Are Strange” to Roger Daltrey’s “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” to Lou Gramm’s “Lost In The Shadows”, the songs are a great representation of the movie’s tone. Tim Capello’s “I Still Believe” is not only one of the most popular songs from the soundtrack, it’s also one of the best scenes in the film.
Perhaps the greatest track from the movie is it’s main theme song, a song so synonymous with the film, it has been covered numerous times and used for the marketing of the sequels. “Cry Little Sister” is the best original song to ever appear in horror movie, hands down! G Tom Mac absolutely captures the true essence of the movie with this memorable track. I’ve actually had the privilege of seeing him perform an acoustic version live at Monster Mania. Not only did it rock the house, he’s one of the few artists that sounds the same live as he does on CD. If you get the chance to see Tim or G Tom Mac at a con or LOST BOYS Party, you should absolutely attend that event!
HOLY SHIT! IT’S THE ATTACK OF EDDIE MUNSTER
While THE LOST BOYS did do decent business at the box office, the film really found it’s pulse during the VHS boom and airings on HBO. It was here where younger viewers were able to see it and really give it the push it needed. It’s also worth noting that this was one of the few fear films during The Golden Age of Horror, where the critics didn’t have a field day tearing it apart. In fact the they were generally positive about the movie, a true rarity during the 80s.
The movie has since gone on to become a massive cult classic and is widely considered as one of (if not the) greatest vampire movies of all time. It’s considered one of the greatest horror movies of all time. It’s become a rite of passage for teens all over the world. It is one of Warner Brothers most successful library titles, even to this day. It has been passed on to a new generation, that will pass it on to another generation, keeping the film much like it’s titular characters…Immortal.
While FRIGHT NIGHT and (the severely underrated) NEAR DARK are also considered cult classics and giants in the Vampire genre, THE LOST BOYS is truly looked at as a juggernaut.
The weak sequels couldn’t hold this film’s jock, as they failed to capture the magic of the original film. Perhaps the main appeal of THE LOST BOYS would be in how relatable the characters come across. We all remember people like David from high school, the rebellious bad boy, who could charm his way out of any situation. We all had a crush on someone like Star, the girl next door, who may not be as innocent as she looks, yet you would do anything for her. As horror fans we are Sam and The Frog Brothers, we think we’re hip to the game but as Edgar tells Sam so eloquently, “You don’t know shit buddy!”
The genius of this film all rests on Joel Schumacher’s shoulders. He had the vision to turn this from a little kid vampire parody into a truly unique sexy horror-comedy film. I honestly believe that if the film stayed with the original plan, we would not be here discussing it to this very day. It might’ve ended up being one of those relics of the 80s like the Hugga Bunch or Teddy Ruxpin. 30 years later, and this movie is just as fresh as it was since the day it was unleashed on to the world.
HAPPY 30TH ANNIVERSARY TO THE LOST BOYS…HERE’S TO 30 MORE YEARS!!!
Juanita A Velez wrote:
My absolute favorite Vampire flick. Awesome article. I loved The Coreys growing up & am still a huge Kiefer fan to this day. And since you mentioned Teddy Ruxpin imagine sticking the soundtrack in him and letting it okay. It was pretty cool. Though my niece hated me. It was her Teddy Tixoin.
Juanita A Velez wrote:
Oops Ruxpin couldn’t see what I was typing near the end. ??