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Film Retrospect: The Lost Boys

by
July 15, 2007

The Lost Boys PosterIf all had gone as planned, The Lost Boys may have ended up a very different film. As most die hard, Honorary Frog Brothers know, Richard Donner was originally going to direct this film. Coming off the success of The Goonies, Donner was fashioning The Lost Boys as a thematically similar, kid-friendly adventure, pitting child vampires against The Frog Brothers (one of the few characters that survived the first draft and made it into the final version). The pre-production went on too long and Donner decided to jump ship and make Lethal Weapon instead. Rather than junk Lost Boys, it ended up in the hands of a promising new director named Joel Schumacher and Donner became the producer instead. With his noted eye for style, Schumacher re-imagined the piece as a sexy, scary teen thriller, flush with comic elements and an MTV-ready style. A new screenplay was prepared, filming took place mostly in Santa Cruz, California and the summer of 1987 saw the release of a genre classic.

Unlike most horror films released around this time (namely, sequels to Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street), The Lost Boys gained strong word of mouth from audiences, held up well against the likes of Beverly Hills Cop II, La Bamba and Harry and the Hendersons and, at over $30 million, was a minor hit for Warner Brothers. The first time I saw a promo for it was, appropriately enough, on MTV: following the music video for Good Times (still a great single by INXS and Cliff Barnes), a full length trailer played. The film was an even bigger hit on video, though, despite much rumored talk and anticipation, a proposed sequel (one of which was called The Lost Girls!) never happened.

Instead, the film took on a life of its own. Despite the film's ultra-slick, very 80's look and attitude, the film is still a beloved classic. It influenced the look of horror films, the hipster tone of all future teen vampire flicks (not to mention Buffy the Vampire Slayer in general) and became The Citizen Kane of vampire movies for the goth scene. The appearance of several characters (namely Kiefer Sutherland's) became a standard for punk apparel and, even now, you'd be hard pressed to find someone who isn't crazy about the movie. Unlike the previous summer movies I rattled off, few other movies released that summer, let alone that YEAR, have had the cult and filmic impact of The Lost Boys.

The Lost Boys

As for the film itself: it rocks. Big time. Even non-horror movie fans (like my wife) dug it, as the film's sense of humor (its greatest strength) keeps the film smarter and sharper than most vampire films. The Lost Boys has a few genuine scares but, unlike Interview With the Vampire, Underworld or Bram Stoker's Dracula, doesn't take itself so seriously and keeps things fun and exciting. The cast is marvelously offbeat: Corey Haim has some of the film's best lines, Jason Patric is quite good in his leading man debut, Sutherland is genuinely unsettling as the leader of the bloodsuckers, Corey Feldman (in his 80's prime) steals every scene he has and old pros Edward Herrmann and Dianne Wiest bring a lot to roles that could have weighed the film down.

Say what you will about Schumacher, but at the height of his fame, he churned out some superb crowd pleasers (including St. Elmo's Fire, Falling Down and A Time to Kill) and this one still has a kinetic kick.

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  • http://www.geeklabel.com Billy Flynn
    The Lost Boys has everything going for it. A sharp, scary film with genuine laughs. The soundtrack is simply amazing. Everyone in college had it and thought they were the only one. A fantastic mix if horror and comedy. Now and again I am still amazed this is Joel Schumacher. Makes me wonder what ever happened to him.... I bought the freakin' laser disc cause I loved the movie so much. give The Lost Boys a shot.. you will not regret it.
  • http://madaboutmovies.net Marina
    I was 13 the first time I saw this on VHS and it scared the bajeezus out of me. Thankfully, over the year I've developed more of a backbone and this teen friendly vampire flick is easily one of the best ever made. And who can really forget the look on Sutherland's face when he falls off the edge of the bridge?
  • jake
    I was there, man. From the beginning. If Lost Bpys was made today, I bet they would make it PG. If memory serves me right, I think it was rated R. It wouldn't have the same impact either. Music would be by Linkin Park or whoever and the style and fun would be completely lost. That's why it is so great, because it was made at the right time. I think this movie is rounding it's 20 year mark, and my friend said that they start remaking movies after a good 15-20 yeats go by, so they might remake this one and ruin the shit out of it.
  • Mark
    An absolute classic. I was 13 when I first watched this on VHS back in 1988, and I instantly loved it - scary, funny, and cool. I make sure to see this at least once a year since then You know you're a Lost Boys fan when you check your chinese food for maggots and worms :p
  • marty mcfly
    great poster too- love the positioning of the actors and how they're all in black and white against that striking red. so simple, but fricken cool.
  • Barry's Wife
    I really did like this movie and I just saw it this year! I'm not a big vampire fan, but the comedy made the scary parts easier to take. And besides, Jason Patric is a hottie! (Sorry Barry, but it's true!) :)
  • Anthony from Santa Cruz
    Growing up in Santa Cruz this movie was an immediate classic in my book. If you're anywhere near the Santa Cruz area on July 25th at 8:45 they are doing a screening of the movie in front of the Beach Boardwalk. I will definitely be there and I'm trying to get a bunch of friends to go too. More info here http://upcoming.yahoo.com/event/196737/

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