Fright Fest 2018: The Lost Boys (1987)
Let’s see if we can start some stuff, here.
If there is a vampire film that has proved to be more divisive and argument-provoking, Lost Boys would likely be close to the top of the list. The world seems to have no shortage of both love and scorn for this landmark film.
And hey, I get it. I am not the biggest Joel Shumacher fan. While he has done some films I like, A Time To Kill, Falling Down and 8mm, I will completely acknowledge that much of his work comes off as a touch superficial, movies that look nice but without a lot of substance to them. He managed to personally put a torpedo into the flank of the original Batman film franchise, trying too hard to make a big-budget summer film but also somehow trying to wear Tim Burton’s clothes at the same time. Often, I get the vibe of someone who directs high profile films but who also wants to have what he sees as the cred of a small-budget indie filmmaker.
Maybe I’m just at the right age, but Lost Boys was a huge part of my childhood. I still remember seeing it in the theater, although how I managed as an eleven-year-old to have parents who took me to a film like that is beyond me. But still, it was a movie I saw upon its original release and over the years, I have come back to it and watched it again and again. And as the genre has shifted and changed to the Twilight era we find ourselves in, Lost Boys still stands as one of the last contemporary vampire movies that I have really enjoyed. And yes, I do realize that I’m putting a spotlight on my age by referring to this as contemporary. Just move past it, Atticus.
Yeah, I know. I did it again.
And please don’t take this as the old guy grousing on how millennials have ruined vampires. That isn’t my point. I’m sure that fans of the classic Universal Monster movies were equally put off by movies such as The Lost Boys and Fright Night. While much of current interpretations aren’t for me, I’m mature enough to understand that it’s a big world out there and things are inevitably going to shift in favor of the interests of other people.
And for me, Lost Boys represented a narrative sensibility where vampires were something we were meant to be more afraid of. These characters existed as destructive forces of nature that demanded respect and incited terror. Cold-blooded killers (literally) who took and did whatever they wanted.
Let’s start with the area that I think is the most important and most underrated when it comes to success in a movie – the music It’s not something that many give thought to, but the reality is that the music of any given scene is responsible for laying down the emotional groundwork that the acting is built upon. Acting and writing is important, as is costume and set design and effects but the music is what gets into our heads and informs us as to how we should be feeling about what we’re seeing.
Lost Boys has a phenomenal soundtrack. I’m listening to it right now as I write this. It’s no coincidence that great movies are often paired with great soundtracks. Despite all the years that have passed since this movie first came out, there is a lot of music from there that has stayed with me.
I’ll concede that the acting in this movie isn’t great. I’ve never been a huge fan of the Coreys and I’ll freely admit that they were more a product of popular culture at the time than anything from their actual acting chops. And by putting them front and center, the film was pretty clearly going after the younger MTV audience, presenting a fairly superficial stereotype of pseudo “punk-rock kids” as the vampires in this. I get it, but the positives of the movie still outweigh all of it for me.
Would I still like the movie as much if I were to watch it now, for the first time? I’ll be honest and admit that I have no idea but there’s also no way to resolve that question. I’ll own the fact that my own middle-aged nostalgia could be causing my love for this movie to swell out of control and it could very well be affecting my judgment.
I just don’t care.
I’m a sucker for stories where strangers roll into a new town and are sucked into a dark underworld that manages to exist and thrive right under everyone’s noses. That was done really well here, with one brother being sucked into the allure of this world and the other being driven to rise up against it.
And besides Stand By Me and Young Guns, this is one of the more iconic performances of Kiefer Sutherland’s early years for me. I thought he did a great job as the menacing leader of the gang of vampires taking this seaside town apart. He plays the role that was required of him and he put his all in to it.
And while the twist at the end wasn’t that unexpected, even to eleven-year-old me, it’s still done well and brings the film around to a satisfying conclusion. This isn’t a movie that was meant to change the world. It was a movie that was meant to be entertaining, it was meant to be fun in all of it’s baby oil-slicked, saxophone toned glory and if there is any one thing I would say about the endurance of the Lost Boys it would be that I still believe.
And just as an aside at the end here, I’m not going to bother speaking up for any of the films that came after this. I haven’t watched any of them and I have no interest.
For me, there will always and only be one Lost Boys.