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The Lost Boys


In 1957, the posters for I Was a Teenage Werewolf (starring then-unknown Michael Landon!) unconvincingly trumpeted the cheapie horror pic as "The most amazing motion picture of our time!" Thirty years later, monster movies were beginning to climb out of the Hollywood gutter. Perhaps such genre material should get the "A" treatment...maybe there's money in it! Instrumental in this turnaround was director Joel Schumacher, who—upon being offered a G-rated kiddie vampire adventure—envisioned instead an R-rated comedy-horror picture, an "I Was a Teenage Vampire" with a better script and healthier budget. Skittish executives unclear on the concept still made The Lost Boys on the cheap (by the standards of 1987 Warner Brothers), but the ingenuity of Schumacher and his creative team has enabled the picture to stand the test of time as a cult film. Cinematographer Michael Chapman (Raging Bull, Taxi Driver), production designer Bo Welch (Batman Returns, Men in Black), makeup man Greg Cannom (Bram Stoker's Dracula), and screenwriter Jeffrey Boam (rewriting Janice Fischer and James Jeremias) prove invaluable in supporting Schumacher's stylish Pop Horror vision. A common part of the appeal of a cult film is that it is dated, and certainly The Lost Boys is married to its time in its saxophone-heavy, "Now available on Atlantic Records & Tapes"-ready pop-rock soundtrack; its fashion (colorful prints, early-Goth leather, and just-so hair); and its initial screen teaming of "the two Coreys": Haim and Feldman. Corey Haim plays 13-year-old Sam Emerson, who moves with his older brother Michael (Jason Patric) and divorced-hippie mother Lucy (Dianne Wiest, fresh from her Oscar win for Hannah and Her Sisters) to the rural beachside town of Santa Carla, California, Murder Capital of the World. Down at the comic-book shop on the Santa Carla Beach Boardwalk (played by the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk), Sam meets the Frog Brothers, Edgar (Corey Feldman) and Alan (Jamison Newlander). The boy commandos warn Sam, "We've been aware there's some very serious vampire activity in this town for some time." Meanwhile, Michael falls for a pretty girl (Jamie Gertz) connected to Goth intimidator David (Keifer Sutherland) and a gang of—you guessed it—teenage vampires (including Alex "Bill" Winter of Bill & Ted's fame). Succumbing to peer pressure, Michael takes a swig of blood and becomes a "half-vampire." If he's to reclaim his pure humanity, the head vampire will have to take a stake to his heart. But who's the head vampire? Is it David? Could it be Mom's new sweetheart (Edward Herrmann of Gilmore Girls)? Say it ain't Grandpa (Bernard Hughes), in whose house the Emersons have come to live! To the extent that The Lost Boys works, it works due to the tension between serious investment (best represented by Patric's method approach) and the film not taking itself too seriously (gape-mouthed Haim playing off the deadpan Frog Brothers). When confronted with the news that his brother is a vampire, Sam hollers, "Wait'll I tell mom!" Despite studio nerves, Schumacher's quirkiness flowed right into the mainstream, paving the way for his big-time moment as a director. It's not surprising that the film's undercurrent of sexuality helped to kick Schumacher's career up a notch, from the fluid-hungry vampires to the set-decoration in-joke of putting a midriff-baring Rob Lowe poster on the closet door of "Born to Shop" "fashion victim" Sam (it's surrounded by posters of sexy young women, but c'mon...). As a contribution to vampire lore, The Lost Boys is middling at best, but Schumacher keeps it entertaining. The early vampire attacks, though '80s slick in their execution, evoke '50s horror: a point-of-view camera descends onto a Lookout Point couple as a vampire tears in, cueing a scream queen (in fact, the film includes only two special effects shots—the rest is achieved "practically"). And though Gerard McMann's unforgettable "Cry Little Sister" is officially labeled "Theme from The Lost Boys," Schumacher cheekily (and aptly) frames his story with Echo and the Bunnymen's cover of the Doors' "People Are Strange." With its cool cast and classic kiss-off ending, The Lost Boys will forever be a cultural touchstone of '80s cinema. Courtesy: Peter Canavese, Groucho Reviews
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Directed by: 
Joel Schumacher
Running Time: 
Jason Patric, Corey Haim, Keifer Sutherland, Dianne Wiest, Barnard Hughes, Jami Gertz
Screenplay by: 
Janice Fischer, James Jeremias, Jeffrey Boam

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