31 Days of Halloween — Day 16: The Lost Boys (1987) — by Dr. Shock


HMP LostBoysEditor’s Note: Dave “Dr. Shock” Becker is a host on Horror Movie Podcast and the Land of the Creeps horror podcast. He is also the mastermind behind DVDInfatuation.com, a movie review blog where he is watching and posting one review every day until he reaches at least 2,500 movie reviews. Follow Doc on Twitter: @DVDinfatuation.

Ever since Bela Lugosi first donned the cape in 1931’s Dracula, movie vampires have been a suave, debonair bunch, a tradition carried on by the likes of Christopher Lee (Horror of Dracula), Frank Langella (1979’s Dracula), Gary Oldman (Bram Stoker’s Dracula) and, yes, even Robert Pattinson (the Twilight series).

Often brooding and sophisticated, it’s easy to see why women fell for these Princes of the Undead. Yet as smooth as these cinematic bloodsuckers have been, it wasn’t until 1987’s The Lost Boys that I actually thought it would be pretty cool to be a vampire.

Recently divorced mom Lucy (Dianne Wiest) and her two sons Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim) have just moved to Santa Carla, California, a raucous beachside community that has one hell of a nightlife. It’s so crazy, in fact, that Lucy’s widowed father (Barnard Hughes), with whom the family is now living, refuses to go into town. Still, despite its exaggerated reputation as “The Murder Capitol of the World,” the three new arrivals decide to give Santa Carla a chance.

During their first night out, Lucy meets Max (Edward Herrmann), a local business owner, while Sam pays a visit to a boardwalk comic store owned by the Frog brothers, Edgar (Corey Feldman) and Alan (Jamison Newlander), who warn Sam that evil is afoot in Santa Carla.

As for Michael, he falls hard for a pretty brunette that goes by the name of Star (Jami Gertz). Unfortunately, Star spends all her time with bad-boy David (Kiefer Sutherland) and his gang of hell-raising bikers. To Michael’s surprise, David welcomes him into their group, inviting him back to the abandoned resort he and the rest of his gang call home. While there, David offers Michael some wine, which he gladly accepts. But after drinking from the bottle, Michael starts to change; before long, he’s wearing sunglasses around the house, and staying up all night. It isn’t until a bit later, though, that Michael realizes the truth: David and his friends are vampires. And what’s more, by drinking the so-called “wine” that David gave him, Michael is turning into one as well!

To prevent his brother from becoming a full-fledged bloodsucker, Sam enlists the help of the Frog brothers, who, aside from running the comic shop, are also self-proclaimed vampire hunters. Together, the three set out to destroy David and his gang, but will they do so in time to keep Michael from joining the ranks of the undead?

“You’ll never grow old, Michael, and you’ll never die.” This is what David says to Michael to try to convince him to join their group, and I admit that, when I was younger, this seemed like a pretty sweet deal. I also loved how these vampires spent their nights hanging out at the boardwalk, and that, instead of a musty castle in Eastern Europe, they lived in the remains of an old hotel that also offered them an ocean view.

The scenes in which Michael hangs out with David’s band of vampires are some of the movie’s best (the railroad bridge sequence is outstanding). Of course, the major drawback to being a vampire is that you have to kill to survive, and while we do occasionally get a glimpse of David and his friends feeding on the locals, most of the time we’re flying through the air with them (the camera giving us a POV perspective of what they see from up high), and that, along with everything else, had me thinking there were worse fates than becoming a creature of the night.

In addition to making vampires more appealing, The Lost Boys boasts a phenomenal cast. Dianne Wiest, fresh off her Oscar-winning turn in Hannah and Her Sisters, is strong as the sympathetic mother who doesn’t understand why her son is behaving so strangely, and Edward Herrmann is likable as Max, a seemingly nice guy with a few secrets of his own.

Yet as good as the adults are (including Barnard Hughes, who gets plenty of laughs as the former hippie grandfather), it’s the kids who steal the show. Jason Patric perfectly conveys the confusion and anger that Michael deals with during his unwanted “transformation,” while Kiefer Sutherland and his “Lost Boys,” played by Brooke McCarter, Billy Wirth and a young Alex Winter, are having the time of their lives, enjoying every minute of their vampiric existence.

The Lost Boys also marked the first time that “The Two Coreys,” Corey Haim and Corey Feldman, shared the screen (the duo made a bunch of films together over the years, including Licensed to Drive and Dream a Little Dream). Feldman in particular is hilarious as one-half of the “serious-as-a-heart attack” Frog brothers, and along with co-star Jamie Newlander, is responsible for some of the movie’s funniest moments (the dinner scene, where they try to determine whether or not Max is a vampire, had me laughing out loud).

Being older and somewhat wiser, I no longer find the vampire lifestyle as appealing as I did back in 1987. But even today, whenever I watch The Lost Boys, I daydream a little, imagining what it would be like to fly over the ocean, knowing that I was going to live forever…

Given the choice, I’d probably turn David’s offer down. But I wouldn’t say “no” right away.

—Dr. Shock

—Read Dave’s original review over at DVD Infatuation

Links for Dr. Shock:
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Dr. Shock also appears on this horror podcast: Land of the Creeps

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27 thoughts on “31 Days of Halloween — Day 16: The Lost Boys (1987) — by Dr. Shock

  1. 31 Days of Halloween day 15

    37. The Editor (****) – Great for screening parties. A must for Giallo fans. “You have a really nice penis! See you later!”

  2. As I told Dave on facebook on his birthday…we are the same age, work in the grocery business and love horror movies…we are either dopplegangers or now as I think about it kindred spirits…Josh…You snooze…you lose!

  3. Then again if you were snoozing you wouldn’t have gotten out of the new Nightmare podcast…Now I know your dream warrior power!!!

  4. Day 16 – 2001 Maniacs (2005)

    Before I say anything about 2001 Maniacs, it’s worth mentioning that I’ve never watched the original 2000 Maniacs directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis in 1964. So it’s certainly possibly that my opinion of 2001 Maniacs would be different had I had the previous knowledge of the original film, whether that adds to my enjoyment or takes away from the movie. With that being said, I can’t say 2001 Maniacs encourages me to hunt down the original film or even find a copy of the sequel – 2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams. To me, 2001 Maniacs is the type of film that you either love for it’s cheesiness, blood, and nudity or you hate for being a truly terrible movie. Without a doubt, I fit into the latter group of viewers.

    When talking about the failures of the film, I feel it’s easier to just mention the few good things that I liked instead. So, let’s take a few seconds and cover the good. Robert Englund stars as the eye patch wearing Mayor Buckman. Englund rarely ever disappoints and he’s certainly the highlight of the film. Buckman reminds me a little of Freddy Krueger when you get later in the A Nightmare on Elm Street series. In fact, both Buckman and Krueger were killed and “Returned to life” to exact revenge on those who weren’t directly responsible for his death, but the “Children” of those who were. Englund hams it up and he’s able to be over the top without being too cheesy that it’s no longer funny. Slap a Southern accent on Krueger and you have Buckman. The main song, “The South Will Rise Again” is pretty catchy and I can see it sticking in my head long after I forget about every other detail of the movie. While it’s a short cameo, producer, Eli Roth, is back to play the same character he played in Cabin Fever. I doubt his screen time was even two minutes long, but it was a welcome treat. Once Roth’s scene was over, it made me wish we could have followed his character as he heads into the woods and cabins.

    Instead of following Roth, we have to follow a group of entirely unlikable characters. There is not a single victim in this entire film that I ended up liking. Everyone is so bland and by the numbers that they don’t give the viewer any reason to care. A character like Mayor Buckman has more substance to his character. The main protagonist, Anderson Lee, came off as especially annoying due to how often he’d try to use some Southern charm to keep on the good side of the the maniacs. It’s not likable, it just makes you want to see the character killed off. Another gripe I had was the overusage of CGI. I can’t express enough how utterly frustrating it is to watch a horror movie where they use CGI to add blood. We’re not even talking about using CGI to add to the blood, as if you’re doing some huge effect. Instead, they use CGI to make a small little cut on a character’s neck or similar type of gashes. It looks terrible and considering how cheap and easy it is to make fake blood, it seems like a pretty big waste of money. Admittedly, the first kill is done without any CGI and it’s practical effects looked pretty darn decent. It’s a shame they couldn’t keep with the practical effects for the rest of the movie.

    I felt there were also some flaws in not trying hard enough to properly explain some of the aspects of the film. While we do eventually realize that the maniacs are ghosts/zombies/undead, it doesn’t explain why some of them have extra powers. There’s one maniac girl with killer teeth as if she’s Jaws from that one James Bond film. Why does she has more of a demonic look than the others? We’re never told. I’m not fond of the fact that two of the victims were black and Chinese. The mission of the maniacs seem to get a bit cloudy when they’re not going after typical Northerns that would have been comparable to those who killed them in an unprovoked attack during the Civil War. The arrival of the victims was pretty contrived. In a matter of mere moments, three different vehicles pulled up to the town, all because of one lone detour sign. Then there’s the whole fact that the three guys were supposed to spend their spring break re-doing a history paper, but not once is it ever mentioned again after they left the class. What was even the point of adding in that scene where they’re given the extra work?

    Honestly, this is just not the type of horror I can enjoy. It’s too cheesy and without any real redeemable qualities in my eyes. I will give the filmmakers credit though. Without seeing 2000 Maniacs, but reading the plot, it seemed as if this remake only took the very basic idea of Southerners killing Northerners because of something that happened during the Civil War. The original doesn’t seem to have any supernatural involvement. So at least 2001 Maniacs was an attempt to be something. While I hated the film, I won’t go as far to recommend everyone to avoid this. If you’re a big fan of 2000 Maniacs or enjoy stupid cheesy films, this might be worth checking out. Like I said at the start of the review, you’re either going to love or hate this movie. It seems unlikely for a viewer to feel indifferent towards it.

    I’d give it a 2.5 and probably the only reason why it’s not lower is because I went into the movie expecting it to be bad.

  5. I loved this review. Thanks Dr. Shock! This has movie has been a longtime favorite of mine since childhood, and I got to take my husband to see it in a local theater last year. “Death by stereo!”

    It’s a busy time of year for me, and I haven’t been able to squeeze in daily horror movies, but I have managed to watch a few I’d never seen before:

    Psycho 2 and 3 (I really enjoyed 2, but 3 had way too much Jeff Fahey)

    Intruder (1989) – the grocery store slasher with the Raimi brothers and Bruce Campbell. This was a fun watch with really impressive gore effects and creative kills.

    The Brood (1979) – So far I am liking most of the older Cronenberg films I’ve seen and this one stayed with me for a while after watching it. I loved the psychological concepts in this film and learned later that Cronenberg was coming out of a nasty divorce as he created this (which makes a lot of sense).

    Night of the Demons (2009) – I love the original from 1988 and try to watch it every Halloween, so I wasn’t to keen on giving this a try, but I was talked into it. It was a little better than I originally expected, but it isn’t something I would recommend. I can’t really get behind cgi demons and coke bloated Edward Furlong. The original is over the top 80’s fun and it knows it. The remake manages to be cheesy without the fun and has several scenes that look like bad 90’s music videos.

    Next on my list to watch is Death Spa from 1989. I saw a preview for it and now I have to see it. I might have to make it a double feature with Killer Workout aka Aerobicide.

    Thanks for the wonderful 31 days of Horror Reviews!

    • Intruder is great, I’m glad you liked it. That’s a movie I revisit often. This October I watched Night of the Demons (1988) for the first time so I don’t have the nostalgia from seeing it as a kid but I still enjoyed it. I’ll check out the remake sometime but after your review, I’m in no rush.

  6. 31 Days of Halloween day 16

    38. Cold Prey (***) – Above average slash set on a snowy mountain. I hear the second one is great.
    39. Stung (**) – Mix Aliens, The Deadly Swarm, and Party Down and then lower the quality by just under halfway from what you had.

  7. I feel like I’m letting the community down a little by not having much in the way of horror movie commentary to offer this October but to be honest I’ve been in much more of a reading phase than a film-watching phase.

    I just finished Ramsey Campbells short story collection “Holes for Faces” which has some real spine chillers in it. The final story “The Long Way” really got to me in particular. It had that horrific gradual approach vibe to it with a disturbing figure that grows closer every time it’s glimpsed. Very creepy.

    I’m now moving on to the “Dark Entries” collection by Robert Aickman. I’ve never read any of his stuff before now but this first story is impressively gothic and atmospheric. Just my kind of thing.

  8. Day 16: Horror of Dracula (1958)
    I’ve been trying to get through the Hammer Horror in recent years. This is the first in the Dracula series and based on the novel by Bram Stoker. I really enjoyed this movie, especially the differences between this movie, the book and Dracula (1931).

    This film has great sets and atmosphere. It starts off without a lot of vampire background. I guess by this time audiences were aware of vampire mythology. Van Helsing even shows up in Transylvania to hunt down Dracula at the beginning of the film.

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