Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Essentials- "The Lost Boys" (1987)

The Essentials- #61

The Lost Boys

I know a lot of people who are getting sick of vampires onscreen. For that, all I can say is that I am sorry. I am not sorry because I disagree, but I just know they are going nowhere anytime soon. I am not quite sure what caused the sudden surge of vampire stories recently, but Hollywood’s M.O. currently seems to be over-saturate everything that suddenly becomes popular. I don’t believe in that kind of mind-set at all, I miss the spark of originality that used to hit theaters all the time, but in this time period, it seems Hollywood would rather play it safe than dare to do something outside the box.

That is why I think “The Lost Boys” is interesting to discuss tonight. While most people will try to tell me that “Twilight” made vampires cool again, I couldn’t disagree more. I hate “Twilight” and everything it stands for and I don’t think they made vampires cool. If anything, that series regressed what could be done with fantasy-romance and became nothing but a big joke. Besides, vampires were already cool, just check out “The Lost Boys” from 1987. It’s a movie that shed a different kind of light on vampires. Gaudy, gothic mansions were replaced by beaches and amusement parks. Vampire hunters in gentlemen’s attire were replaced by vampire hunters working in comic book shops. “The Lost Boys” not only made vampires cool, but it made wanting to be a vampire cool. The film introduced Kiefer Sutherland and Jason Patric and it was a brilliant showcase for Corey Haim, Dianne Wiest and Corey Feldman.

The film opens with a family (Dianne Wiest, Corey Haim and Jason Patric) all move to the fictional beach city of Santa Carla. They have moved to Santa Carla from Phoenix Arizona for a fresh start. As they drive into the city, it already feels like nothing is what it seems in the city. There are gangs and Goths everywhere, there are missing children posters on every corner, there are no jobs for anything legal. There is also a spray-painted message saying that Santa Carla is the “murder capital of the world.” Patric plays Michael Emerson, the oldest boy in the family and the first night of being in Santa Carla, he takes his little brother Sam (Haim) out on the town. While out, he sees Star (Jami Gertz) a beautiful, mysterious, young woman who Michael is instantly drawn too. Before he can try and talk to her, she vanishes without a trace.

The next night, the woman comes and finds Michael and introduces herself as Star. There is somewhat of a budding attraction going on between the two when a group on bikes show up and take Star away, what they also do is ask Michael to join them by the leader David (Kiefer Sutherland). Michael begins hanging out with David and his boys for awhile and introduces him to a bizarre ritual that will make Michael a member of their group. Sam gets suspicious of Michael’s new friend and comes to realize the impossible; Michael has turned into a vampire.

Kiefer Sutherland has never been this commanding onscreen. He’s the guy you never take your eyes off of when he’s stumbling around. Sutherland has all the best material in the movie, and I know for a fact he knew it. He makes every minute of every moment onscreen count. The work by Jason Patric is solid reminder of how great the guy is and it’s a shame he isn’t the well-known actor he should be. Corey Feldman is funny and charming in this movie, as is Dianne Wiest and Corey Haim.

I would not call “The Lost Boys” a horror film. Sure, it has to do with vampires, yes they eat people, yes there is some great special effects and make-up work done in the film. But through it all, it is never meant to scare. It seems director Joel Schumaker had a better time playing with the conventions of horror films rather than making a flat-out horror film. This is horror-action if it is anything, and I love that about the film. Schumaker ended up making a film nobody expected and it turned out awesome.

Check this one out if you like vampires at all. You’ll be surprised and impressed by the results.

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