Wednesday, October 14, 2015

#1,885. The Lost Boys (1987)


Directed By: Joel Schumacher

Starring: Jason Patric, Corey Haim, Dianne Wiest



Tag line: "Sleep all day. Party all night. Never grow old. Never die. It's fun to be a vampire"

Trivia: Keenan Wynn and John Carradine (a veteran of vampire films) were both original choices for Grandpa. Wynn died right before filming and Carradine was too ill






Ever since Bela Lugosi first donned the cape in 1931’s Dracula, movie vampires have been a suave, debonair bunch, a tradition carried on by the likes of Christopher Lee (Horror of Dracula), Frank Langella (1979’s Dracula), Gary Oldman (Bram Stoker’s Dracula) and, yes, even Robert Pattinson (the Twilight series). Often brooding and sophisticated, it’s easy to see why women fell for these Princes of the Undead. Yet as smooth as these cinematic bloodsuckers have been, it wasn’t until 1987’s The Lost Boys that I actually thought it would be pretty cool to be a vampire.

Recently divorced mom Lucy (Dianne Wiest) and her two sons Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim) have just moved to Santa Carla, California, a raucous beachside community that has one hell of a nightlife. It’s so crazy, in fact, that Lucy’s widowed father (Barnard Hughes), with whom the family is now living, refuses to go into town.. ever! Still, despite its exaggerated reputation as “The Murder Capitol of the World”, the three new arrivals decide to give Santa Carla a chance. During their first night out, Lucy meets Max (Edward Herrmann), a local business owner, while Sam pays a visit to a boardwalk comic store owned by the Frog brothers, Edgar (Corey Feldman) and Alan (Jamison Newlander), who warn Sam that evil is afoot in Santa Carla.

As for Michael, he falls hard for a pretty brunette that goes by the name of Star (Jami Gertz). Unfortunately, Star spends all her time with bad-boy David (Kiefer Sutherland) and his gang of hell-raising bikers. To Michael’s surprise, David welcomes him into their group, inviting him back to the abandoned resort he and the rest of his gang call home. While there, David offers Michael some wine, which he gladly accepts. But after drinking from the bottle, Michael starts to change; before long, he’s wearing sunglasses around the house, and staying up all night. It isn’t until a bit later, though, that Michael realizes the truth: David and his friends are vampires. And what’s more, by drinking the so-called “wine” that David gave him, Michael is turning into one as well!

To prevent his brother from becoming a full-fledged bloodsucker, Sam enlists the help of the Frog brothers, who, aside from running the comic shop, are also self-proclaimed vampire hunters. Together, the three set out to destroy David and his gang, but will they do so in time to keep Michael from joining the ranks of the undead?

You'll never grow old, Michael, and you'll never die”. This is what David says to Michael to try to convince him to join their group, and I admit that, when I was younger, this seemed like a pretty sweet deal. I also loved how these vampires spent their nights hanging out at the boardwalk, and that, instead of a musty castle in Eastern Europe, they lived in the remains of an old hotel that also offered them an ocean view. The scenes in which Michael hangs out with David’s band of vampires are some of the movie’s best (the railroad bridge sequence is outstanding). Of course, the major drawback to being a vampire is that you have to kill to survive, and while we do occasionally get a glimpse of David and his friends feeding on the locals, most of the time we’re flying through the air with them (the camera giving us a POV perspective of what they see from up high), and that, along with everything else, had me thinking there were worse fates than becoming a creature of the night.

In addition to making vampires more appealing, The Lost Boys boasts a phenomenal cast. Dianne Wiest, fresh off her Oscar-winning turn in Hannah and Her Sisters, is strong as the sympathetic mother who doesn’t understand why her son is behaving so strangely, and Edward Herrmann is likable as Max, a seemingly nice guy with a few secrets of his own. Yet as good as the adults are (including Barnard Hughes, who gets plenty of laughs as the former hippie grandfather), it’s the kids who steal the show.

Jason Patric perfectly conveys the confusion and anger that Michael deals with during his unwanted “transformation”, while Kiefer Sutherland and his “Lost Boys”, played by Brooke McCarter, Billy Wirth and a young Alex Winter, are having the time of their lives, enjoying every minute of their vampiric existence. The Lost Boys also marked the first time that “The Two Coreys”, Corey Haim and Corey Feldman, shared the screen (the duo made a bunch of films together over the years, including Licensed to Drive and Dream a Little Dream). Feldman in particular is hilarious as one-half of the “serious-as-a-heart attack” Frog brothers, and along with co-star Jamie Newlander, is responsible for some of the movie’s funniest moments (the dinner scene, where they try to determine whether or not Max is a vampire, had me laughing out loud).

Being older and somewhat wiser, I no longer find the vampire lifestyle as appealing as I did back in 1987. But even today, whenever I watch The Lost Boys, I daydream a little, imagining what it would be like to fly over the ocean, knowing that I was going to live forever… 

Sure, I’d turn David’s offer down. But I wouldn’t say “no” right away.