With the latest instalment of the Twilight Saga just around the corner, it’s time to remind ourselves of a classic vampire film that influenced many to come after. For me, the greatest alternative to Eclipse this summer is The Lost Boys.
Set in the fictional town of Santa Carla, the story follows two brothers who have recently moved to the sleepy seaside locale. Unbeknownst to them, however, it’s inundated with vampires. When the eldest brother Michael is attracted to a mysterious girl, she leads him to a group of vampires that want him to join them. When Michael starts showing signs of turning into a vampire, it is down to his younger brother Sam to figure out who the head vampire is in order to save him.
Directed in 1987 by Joel Schumacher, The Lost Boys is hard to label with just one genre. It’s a horror, a comedy, a thriller and a romance, yet manages to balance them all without it seeming too much. If we break down these genres, we can see how it succeeds in maintaining each one and how they all tie together.
HorrorThe Lost Boys has some great horror elements. First, this is a film with proper vampires. These vampires don’t glisten like diamonds in the sun. They are fierce, menacing-looking creatures that are bloodthirsty. A film that can still be scary despite the dodgy 80s mullet Kiefer Sutherland sports has to get extra kudos – he plays the bad-ass well and we believe it.
It could even be regarded as a great influence on the general appearance of vampires. For example, Joss Whedon’s vampires in Buffy The Vampire Slayer look a lot like Schumacher’s creations.
The scene where we see the vampires kill for the first time is pretty brutal – up until this point the film’s been fairly light-hearted, but this scene pushes up the level of horror considerably. The vampires literally rip a group of surfers at a bonfire on the beach to shreds while Michael looks on, compelled by his thirst for blood, but sickened at the sight of what is happening. The blood, the gore, the noise – perfect horror!
Michael is led to the vampires by a mysterious gypsy girl called Star. He is instantly intrigued by her at the boardwalk. This scene contains some fantastic 80s saxophone music playing in the background as Michael chases Star trying to talk to her. Refreshingly, Star is not a whiney, clingy, damsel in distress. She’s a pretty tough chick and wants help from Michael to in turn help Laddie, a small boy who is half turned by the vampires.
Their love is tested as they are both not fully vampires, but with each day find it harder to resist the temptation to turn. David not only poses a threat to their lives but also to their love for each other.
Ultimately, romance is not the main storyline here, but its subtlety is a nice change and a gripping part of the story.
One of the most memorable scenes in the film is when Sam and the Frog brothers infiltrate the nest of vampires in order to rescue Star and Laddie, and to stake the vampires while they sleep. This is edge of-the-seat stuff – waking the nest up then having to quickly escape into the safety of the sunlight is pretty thrilling, but this is also the start of a war.
We know that as soon as the sun sets the gang of vampires are going to fight back, and it’s just a countdown until they come. Cut to a sequence of the vampire hunters getting holy water, barricading their doors and making their house vampire-proof, all to an 80s soundtrack. Can’t get more thrilling than that.
The comedy elements in the film are what make it stand out from others of the time. Most of the laughs come from the two Coreys. Corey Haim plays the younger brother Sam, while Corey Feldman plays one of the vampire hunting Frog brothers, Edgar. His brother Alan is played by Jamison Newlander, who makes the perfect monotone sidekick to Feldman.
The Frog brothers are the comic relief in the film, but they are not slapstick – they’re funny because they take their jobs as vampire hunters very seriously and have some killer one-liners.
The grandfather, played by Barnard Hughes, is also fantastic for comedy morsels, constantly popping out on dates and in the end, saving the day in the most dramatic and surprising of ways.
Of course, all these aspects are nothing without the great script and cast to bring everything together. Oh, and a superb soundtrack. Being an 80s film, the soundtrack can at times be a little cheesy, but this leads to one the most wonderful aspects of the film – that at any dramatic or significant point, the theme Cry Little Sister by Gerard McMann will kick in, which can at times be very funny. Also, the use of Echo And The Bunnymen’s cover of People Are Strange for the opening credits creates the perfect odd, almost creepy atmosphere for the film to start with.
So there you have it, an all rounder vampire film to get your teeth into. To finish, and to emphasis why this film really is awesome, may I present to you the best one-liners from The Lost Boys:
“Kill your brother, you’ll feel better.”
“Death by stereo!”
“One thing about living in Santa Carla I never could stomach: all the damn vampires.”
“It’s the attack of Eddie Munster!”
“My own brother, a goddamn, shit-sucking vampire, oh you wait ’till mom finds out buddy!”Fun Fact: If you ever find yourself in Santa Cruz, California, then get yourself to the comic shop Atlantis Fantasyworld. This is the comic used in the film. However, the original was destroyed in an earthquake and has since been rebuilt. The owner loves Lost Boys fans and they have the original comic Vampires Everywhere! used in the film, which you can get your picture taken with!