Even diehard fans of fright and gore sometimes need to kick back and savor a more lighthearted classic. Enter: The Lost Boys. Featuring both of those famous 1980’s Coreys – Haim and Feldman – The Lost Boys preceded Twilight in diverging from Dracula and taking the vampire myth to new heights.
Sam and Michael – played by Corey Haim and Jason Patric – move to Santa Carla with their mother (Dianne West) to live with their grandfather (Barnard Hughes). Santa Carla, a town with a boardwalk and an amusement park, is instantly depicted as an alternate universe. In one opening scene, the Doors’ “People are Strange” plays in the background as the camera captures both shady boardwalk-goers and missing children’s signs. The boys soon learn that Santa Carla is the murder capital of the world.
It would be a stretch to say that Haim carries the movie, but his natural spunk and quick one-liners make him a central figure. When the boys and their mom knock on grandpa’s door and grandpa doesn’t answer immediately, Sam asks: “If he’s dead, can we go back to Phoenix?” Grandpa, too, is a character. When Sam asks if Santa Clara really is the murder capital of the world, Grandpa notes: “If all the corpses buried around here were to stand up all at once, we’d have one hell of a population problem.”
The film has a delightful 80’s vibe, and the clothes are fantastic. Michael sports solid colored shirts, jeans, and his leather jacket, but Sam has a variety of…shall we say…more flamboyant fare. The boardwalk setting, complete with a gigantic rollercoaster and a creepy song that repeats the words “Thou shall not” in the background, only augments the mood.
The vampires in the movie (the lead, David, is played by Kiefer Sutherland) are a group of counter-culture semi-punks, donning leather jackets, earrings, long hair, and, let’s just throw it out there: mullets, mullets, mullets. Mullets abound among this gang. These are not the classy, refined vampires of the Bella Lugosi era, though David does have his own twisted charm and pizzazz. In fact, they’re repeatedly admonished for being on the boardwalk. But when Michael follows a girl from their gang, Star (Jami Gertz), and gets mixed up with these guys, we find out that they’re more than just irreverent, mischievous teenagers. They’re vampires.
I was never afraid as I was watching the movie, and I don’t think the viewers are supposed to be afraid. Killing scenes come late in the movie, and most of the gore is presented in the spirit of comedy. There are a number of hilarious scenes: Sam sings “I’m a lonely boy” in the bathtub, and grandpa – whose hobby is taxidermy – stuffs animals and insists on giving them to Sam to put in his room, when he’s not giving them to the Widow Johnson as flirtatious presents. In one scene, Sam looks left, and a stiff stuffed chipmunk stares intently at him, and thus, at the camera. If Sam and Grandpa weren’t funny enough – they are – we also meet the Frog brothers: Edgar Frog (Corey Feldman) and Alan Frog (Jamison Newlander). The frog brothers are awkward teenage comic book geeks who warn Sam about the town’s vampires. Their gazes are unwaveringly serious and their voices are starkly monotone.
When Michael thinks David’s blood is wine and drinks it, he becomes a vampire. Sam and the Frog brothers seek to save Michael by killing the head vampire. Much of the story was about the hunt, but I found myself interested in Michael, who is uncomfortably situated between two vastly different worlds. It’s a funny thing about vampires. Except for those Twilight vampires, who are sparkly aberrations — people turn into vampires and they become malevolent bloodsuckers. Michael is a vampire – though one who hasn’t killed. His reflection is faded in the mirror and he shields himself from the sun’s rays with sunglasses. He cannot live fully and normally in the world of his family – for which reason he ignores his mother and tells her she can’t understand his problems (sigh, typical teenager) – but drinking David’s blood doesn’t make him malicious. In fact, when he sees the other vampires kill he becomes most decisive; he does not want to be part of their world. However he, along with Sam and the Frog brothers, have to find the head vampire and fight for their freedom.
Let’s face it: horror is a vast, expansive genre, and delving too deeply into one type of horror becomes mundane. The Lost Boys is a pleasant break from your typical horror movie. Much like in the newer Krampus, you’ll laugh more than you quiver, although you’ll laugh harder than you laughed in Krampus because The Lost Boys is funny. Comedy and horror enthusiasts alike should put this on their to-watch list.