Monday, June 9, 2014

The Lost Boys

Are you sick of me saying that the 80s were the best decade for horror films?  That no decade, since, has equaled the imperative period of cinema for the masses—mainly teens—to line up for the latest horror fest to play upon the screens?  Well, then I’ll let the reviews of films like these speak for themselves as we embark on one of the best vampire movies of that decade, The Lost Boys.

The film is noteworthy for a couple of reasons. 

First, it was filmed mainly in the town of Santa Cruz, California, a mere 40 minutes from the town I grew up in.  I remember when I first saw this flick; I noticed right away how similar the fictional town of Santa Carla looked so much like Santa Cruz.  However, I didn’t put it together that I was Santa Cruz, though the Boardwalk was featured throughout, even the familiar shops and locally renowned stage at the beach was highlighted as well.  It wasn’t until years later, with the advent of the internet, that I discovered the film was, in fact, made on location in Santa Cruz.

Secondly, the film is significant as the beginning of the collaboration of two of the stars of the film: Corey Feldman and Corey Haim.  Beyond The Lost Boys, the two actors teamed up on nearly ten more films after this one.  Sadly, Corey Haim died of a drug overdose in 2010.  But it’s worth noting that the last film he was featured in with his collaborating costar was the 2008 sequel to this film,  Lost Boys: The Tribe.  So, it’s sort of symbolic that the work the two actors were featured in together was bookended with The Lost Boys and its sequel.

Well, the film opens with Lucy (Dianne Wiest) and her two sons, Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim), moving to the coastal town of Santa Carla to live with her father (Barnard Hughes) after her divorce.  Michael hangs out at the beach and soon gets involved with the local motorcycle-riding vampires, led by David (Keifer Sutherland), although he doesn’t know what they are until he’s turned.  Sam meets the local comic book/vampire experts, Edgar and Alan Frog (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander), and they inform Sam that Santa Carla is teeming with vampires.  He thinks they’re crazy at first, but after he notices his brother’s behavior, it confirms what the Frog brothers have told him.  But in order to cure Michael from being a bloodsucker, the leader of the vampires must be destroyed.  Can Sam and the Frog brothers kill the vampire leader to save his brother?

The film starts off a bit with the love story between Michael and a girl he meets near the beach during a concert named Star (Jami Gertz), so we get a little romance.  Then, when David shows up and takes Star away on his motorcycle, a sort of love triangle forms.  From then on, Michael tries to prove himself with David and his gang, playing chicken with his motorcycle near a cliff, drinking what he thinks is wine—but is a substance that turns him into a vampire (unbeknownst to him)—and dangling off a railroad bridge.  But after all this, the film switches gears and it’s about Sam with his new friends, the Frog brothers, becoming the vampire hunters throughout the rest of it.  And that’s what’s really enjoyable about this flick.

The movie has everything to make it interesting, but not convoluted, as we have the love story going from vampirism and leading to vampire hunting…all with a little comedy sprinkled here and there.  It’s nostalgic and fun, yet creepy and scary at times.  Keifer’s mullet may seem a little dated, but he’s still a bad-ass in this film.

Now the film has a pretty good twist at the end, however it leaves a bit of confusion on how it was missed by the characters early on.  It may have been a cheat, maybe not, but you can discuss and think about it later on after the movie ends.  However it came to be, the film boasts a very cool climax, vampires fighting vampires, other vampires getting their just desserts, and the unlikeliest of heroes comes to save the day.

Above all else, the filming location is what makes the film, because Santa Cruz was—and still is—the perfect place to set a movie about vampires existing amongst the living…as the soundtrack song goes in the film, “People Are Strange” in that little beachside burg.  Although I live quite a distance from the town now—around 180 miles compared to the 30 miles that used to span between the town and me—I occasionally visit Santa Cruz and always think of the movie whenever I find myself there.  The town is timeless and still looks the same as it had back in 1987 (and back further than that!), which relates so much to making it the setting of a place where vampires reside.  The Boardwalk is the one place highlighted in the film and it hasn’t changed a bit either.

One thing that’s interesting about this film is the credit you may or may not catch when you see the beginning of this film; Richard Donner is the executive producer of The Lost Boys and, for some reason, feels right.  In fact, if I had found out that he directed this movie, I would’ve believed it, because the film almost feels like an adult version of The Goonies.

The original score created in the movie is by Thomas Newman.  You may have heard some of his scores in films like The Shawshank Redemption or Finding Nemo, and so many others.  He definitely has a way to convey emotions into movies and he has no problem doing it here.  Mixed with Newman’s composition of music throughout is a number of songs that fit so well in this movie like the aforementioned “People Are Strange” by Echo & the Bunnymen, covering the famous hit by The Doors.  The one song that’ll stick to your brain after watching this is the theme song of the movie, “Cry Little Sister” by Gerard McMann.  However, above all else, you can’t—and won’t—forget Tim Cappello’s performance at the beach concert.  You may recognize him from a few of Tina Turner’s music videos as the oiled up musclebound saxophonist, which is exactly his look here in The Lost Boys.

So, with all that said, what’s my final “bit” on The Lost Boys?

If it weren’t for the bad language and some of the intense special effects, I’d say this would make a great family movie.  It’s a very entertaining motion picture with the vampire lore updated for modern times (for the 80s anyway).  It’s heartwarming while being heroic and peppered with bits of comedy all the way through.  If you haven’t seen it, you must do so now.

As a side note, there have been two sequels that followed this film.  The first one, Lost Boys: The Tribe, was released straight to home media in 2008 and wasn’t very good.  It did feature Corey Feldman throughout with a cameo by Corey Haim after the end credits, but it mainly focused on other characters as it left Edgar Frog a secondary one.  The second sequel, Lost Boys: The Thirst (also straight to home media), was much better and primarily focused on Edgar Frog as a vampire hunter.  You won’t miss anything if you skip the first sequel as it’s mainly a retread of the first film and doesn’t really play into the next film.  However, both are inferior to the original film, so you may want to just skip both sequels.

Anyway… that’s it for today’s post…thanks for reading…and I welcome any comments!

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