Revisiting Joel Schumacher’s The Lost Boys
Our look back at Joel Schumacher's films arrives at the one that's arguably his most popular: The Lost Boys...
You're a creature of the night Michael, just like out of a comic book! You're a vampire, Michael! My own brother, a goddamn, shit-sucking vampire. You wait 'till mom finds out." - Sam
After finding success and finally getting both feet firmly in the door of Hollywood, Joel Schumacher kept with the idea of making a brat pack movie, but this time with a twist. Gone were the trials and tribulations of growing up and instead were the trials and tribulations in dealing with a gang of teenage vampires.
After a messy divorce from her husband, Lucy (Dianne Wiest) and her sons Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim) move to her father's (Barnard Hughes) home in Santa Carla, otherwise known as the murder capital of the world.
With no TV in the house and with it still being the summer holidays, Michael and Sam soon find themselves hanging out at the local amusement park and boardwalk. While attending a concert on the beach, Michael is instantly attracted to a young woman named Star (Jami Gertz). Following her he leaves Sam to his own devices and he soon comes in contact with the Frog brothers, Edgar (Corey Feldman) and Alan (Jamison Newlander), who warn him that Santa Carla is crawling with vampires and if he ever needs their help to give them a call.
Having struck out with Star, the following night Michael comes across her again and two decide to have dinner, until she is forced to leave with the leader of the local motorcycle gang David (Kiefer Sutherland). David goads Michael into a race, which nearly leaves him driving off a cliff face. The two fight, but soon become friends, with David inviting him to their underground liar, a hotel which fell into the earth after a big earthquake.
As they eat dinner, David torments Michael into believe he is eating bugs and worms until finally letting him drink out of his special wine bottle. Star begs him not to, as the wine actually is blood, but refusing to believe her he drinks. Later that night the boys play a dangerous game on some train tracks, which leads to them all falling to what should be a messy death, but the next thing Michael remembers is waking up in his bed.
That evening, Lucy is out on a date with her new boss Max (Edward Herrmann) and Michael is looking after Sam. While Sam is in the bath, Michael comes over with the urge to drink his blood, being stopped only by Sam's faithful Husky, Nanook.
After discovering Michael is actually turning into a vampire, Sam calls Edgar and Alan who demand they kill him on the spot, but he refuses after Michael promises he is going to find out exactly what is happening. Going back to the lair that night, Star explains everything and the two spend the night together.
Knowing that Michael is only half vampire, Sam and the Frog brothers decide to kill the head vampire to solve the problem. Thinking it is Max, they do a series of tests over dinner which he passes, proving he isn't the person they are after. They then decide to hit the underground lair. Saving Star and baby vamp Laddie (Chance Michael Corbitt), they end up staking only one of the boys before the others wake up, promising a bloody revenge that night.
With Lucy out on another date with Max and having tricked their grandfather out of the house, battle lines are drawn and the fight begins. Having taken out the other members of the gang by holy water and ‘death of stereo', there is only one fight left between David and Michael, which ends with David being on the receiving end of a pair on antlers.
When Lucy and Max return, they are horrified to discover the scene, especially as it is Max's ‘boys' who have been killed. Just as he is about to take Lucy for himself, her father drives his truck through the living room wall, staking Max and finally putting an end to the vampire family for good.
Thoughts & Reaction
Straight off the bat, I do need to admit that The Lost Boys sits very nicely on my top ten favourite films of all times list. It was such a part of my conscious growing up that I can never really remember a time I never knew it existed and like other favourites of mine growing up, including The Goonies and The Breakfast Club, I seem to end up watching it at least once a year.
The thing that keeps bringing me back to this movie is not just nostalgia, though. It is a very well written, well directed and well acted piece. Although it never was going to win any awards for any of these things, they all worked exactly as they needed to and had the exact right amounts of horror, comedy, action and twists to keep you entertained and interested.
Although starting out life as a project for Richard Donner to direct, it is hard to comprehend that. When the script first landed at Schumacher's door, it was more in line with The Goonies than with the classic horror genre, with the vampires meant to be in fifth or sixth grade and the Frog brothers as 8-year-old boy scouts. Unimpressed with the idea, he refused to sign on unless he could change the characters to teenagers. The rest, as we know, is movie history
The cast, much as with Schumacher's previous outing St. Elmo's Fire, was mostly made up of young upcoming stars, who were the new blood of the cinema scene with the brat packers of the early to mid 80s moving onto more ‘serious' roles. The leads of Good vs Evil were played brilliantly by Jason Patric as Michael and Kiefer Sutherland as David and, although the latter has gone on to a more iconic role as 24's Jack Bauer, I think I will always see him first and foremost in this role forever.
Acting-wise, though, this movie has to be most well known for bringing together the 80s phenomenon which was ‘The Two Coreys'. After becoming firm friends on the set they went on to make a few more movies together before the 90s hit and their stars waned. Most recently they have been seen on TV in the reality show The Two Coreys, which, if you ever get a chance to see it, please do. It is car crash television at its best.
The most striking thing about this film for me, though, is the fact that it really did cement the filmmaking style of Joel Schumacher. In his previous efforts the cinematography had been pretty basic, but this movie really was a slick smooth product, which would in many ways become his signature.
Coupled with this new vision is an amazing soundtrack which captures not only the time in which the film was set but the essence of what the story is about. With the score composed by Hollywood big wig, Thomas Newman, it also encompassed bands such an INXS and The Door's and the theme song Cry Little Sister by Gerard McMann is a hauntingly perfect start to the movie.
The Lost Boys really could have been the sort of movie that came and went very quickly and could have become a victim of its age, but it has proven to be a firm cult classic which can still fill up cinema screenings today and it is this popularity which lead to Warner Bros. deciding to release a sequel.
Although after the film's initial success a sequel called The Lost Girls was mooted, the project never took off the ground. It would take another 21 years until the direct to DVD release entitled Lost Boys: The Tribe would follow up the story from where we left off. Although a far cry from the brilliance of its predecessor, its success has lead to a third film, Lost Boys: The Thirst, to be commissioned and is due for release in 2010.
With another success under his belt, Schumacher's next project would be a step away from the brat pack world and would focus instead on the complexities of love and family. Next time I will be looking at the little known movie, Cousins.
The Lost Boys Key Info:
Released: 31st July 1987
Distributed By: Warner Bros.
Budget: Unknown, but some unconfirmed reports place it as around $15,000,000
Box Office Gross: $32,222,567
Best DVD Edition: The Lost Boys Two-Disc Special Edition