You’re a creature of the night, a Movie Rewatch of Great Nostalgia, Michael! Just wait till Mom finds out, buddy!
You guessed it: today’s MRGN covers that actually good teen vampire movie of 1987: The Lost Boys!
Previous entries can be found here. Please note that as with all films covered on the Nostalgia Rewatch, this post will be rife with spoilers for the film.
And now, the post!
In retrospect, it’s surprising that we took so long to get to The Lost Boys on the MRGN, because it is definitely one of my most vividly remembered movie loves of the 80s. My sisters agree, especially Liz:
LIZ: I think this might be my favorite movie we’ve done for your blog yet.
ME: Really? This one?
LIZ: Absolutely! Come on, how much fun did we have watching this? How many scenes did we rewind to watch over again?
And, well. The answer being “a ridiculous amount” to both those questions, I guess she has a point.
I have some pretty big issues with Joel Schumacher as a director (most of them bat-shaped, unsurprisingly), but if there’s any project in his oeuvre that justifies his career, this movie is it. Admittedly, St. Elmo’s Fire also didn’t suck, and Phone Booth was at least conceptually interesting, but of all his films, only The Lost Boys has brought me the kind of joy that marks a modern classic.
Like so many movies, the thoroughly haphazard origins and development of The Lost Boys means it was a minor miracle that the end product gelled together as well as it did, but that only makes how weirdly well it works just that much more satisfying. Considering it started (un)life as a vampiric retelling of Peter Pan (a concept of which hardly anything remains except the title), and got morphed along the way into a California beach Goth teen vampire horror-comedy—well, I mean, this sentence speaks for itself.
With that pedigree, by all rights The Lost Boys should have been an unwatchable hot mess of a movie. But somehow, it is the complete opposite of that. The comedy was hilarious, the horror parts were (especially to young me) genuinely horrific, and the bits that were both comedy AND horror were, impossibly, both funny and scary. Which is a frankly impressive feat, if you ask me.
It also didn’t hurt, of course, that the cast was spectacular—maybe not in absolute terms, but as far as what this particular movie needed to work? They were perfect.
LIZ: Jason Patric is HOT LIKE BURNING in this movie.
ME: Well, duh.
LIZ: No, like, I don’t think you understand how big a crush I had on him. Even though I never even saw him in anything else—
KATE: Except for Speed 2 which was WRETCHED—
LIZ: —Oh, no, yeah, completely awful—I will love him forever for being so beautiful in this movie. You need to put in a gif of that one shot with his tongue.
LIZ: No, not that one, the pretty one!
Unfortunately for Liz, for some unfathomable reason the Internet has not seen fit to provide that gif (at least not that I can find), so we’ll just have to settle for the entire (famous) scene where Michael is initiated into the bloodsucking club:
(The relevant tongue shot is at ~3:30 if you’re interested, you perv.)
Of course, Patric tongue notwithstanding, that scene (and every other scene he was in) was most notable for being thoroughly pwned by one Kiefer Sutherland, who was relatively unknown before Lost Boys came out—but not after. His performance as nominal head vampire David is still one of his most iconic roles, even thirty years later.
KATE: This and him in Stand By Me was definitely the start of my bad boy obsession.
LIZ: Is he hot, though?
KATE: Uh, yeah.
ME: …Ehhh, sort of? From certain angles? But it doesn’t matter if Kiefer is hot, because Kiefer is Kiefer.
I stand by this even though I didn’t much care for him in his previous appearance in the MRGN, because there’s no denying that when Kiefer is on, he is on. And you couldn’t take your eyes off him in Lost Boys.
And then there are the Coreys.
It’s sort of hard to talk about how much I enjoyed both Corey Feldman and especially Corey Haim in this move without sounding callous, considering their tumultuous and meteoric rise to teen heartthrob fame, fueled in no small part by this movie in particular, was part and parcel of what Feldman himself called their ruin—and in Haim’s case, his tragically early death in 2010. The Coreys are unquestionably a prime example of how Hollywood can destroy young people’s lives (and given Feldman’s long-repeated and now-finally-being-taken-seriously accusations of habitual sexual molestation perpetrated on both himself and Haim, their story appears to be even more tragic than was generally believed), which lends a very ugly subtext to what is, then and now, delightfully funny and light-hearted performances from both of them.
But in the nostalgic spirit of celebrating what’s good about the past despite what wasn’t great about it, I will say that the Coreys, along with Jamison Newlander as the other Frog brother, were pure comedic gold in The Lost Boys, and were a huge part of what elevated it from Yet Another Vampire Movie to something unique.
Another thing I really liked about Corey Haim’s character, and which I was also sort of hesitant to talk about because of the above nastiness, but then gave myself a stern talking-to about equivocating the two things, is how the character of Sam Emerson is so clearly, in retrospect, subtextually coded as gay.
The Amazon Video trivia about the Rob Lowe poster in Sam’s room says that Schumacher claimed to have put it there because he had recently directed Lowe in St. Elmo’s Fire, but I call bullshit. Or rather, I call “placating the homophobes”, because I’m sorry, no straight boy would have that poster on his closet door, especially not in the 80s, and there’s no way Schumacher didn’t know that. That together with Sam’s fantastically outré wardrobe choices (even allowing for late 80s fashion bizarrity) and any number of other, smaller clues, pretty much clinched it for me.
My sisters, by contrast, were not so certain, and we definitely went back and forth a bit about it, so in the end it’s probably a matter of personal opinion. But for me, I really like to see what I now perceive as a cheerfully sneaky bit of awesome gay subtext, which I never even noticed back in the day—just as I was not meant to. I like to believe that those who needed to see it in that time, the ones who had to live their whole lives as that kind of hidden subtext, that those people did see it, while leaving the rest of us blithely (and safely) oblivious. And obviously I much more applaud the state of things now, where gay subtext (at least sometimes) gets to be text instead, out and proud and there for everyone to see, but I’m also pleased to recognize, in retrospect, that it was out there long before straight folk like me were ready to see (and enjoy) it too. I’m not sure this paragraph made any kind of sense, but hopefully you see what I’m driving at, however clumsily.
Also delightful was Dianne Wiest as hapless-but-cool mom Lucy, as well as Edward Herrmann’s mild-mannered evil vampire boss—whose true nature was a genuine surprise to me when I first watched it, by the way. I totally bought the misdirect!
Double-plus delightful is Barnard Hughes’ Grandpa, who besides being great comic relief throughout, gets to deliver what is possibly the best last-line plot twist of any movie in the last fifty years. So great.
Not so delightful, sadly, is Jami Gertz as Yet Another Dimensionally Challenged Female Love Interest Slash Plot Device, aka part-time vampire and full-time damsel in distress Star.
And look, if you’re tired of hearing me complain about the tediously offensive superficiality of the Token Chick in so many of these movies, well, believe me darlin’, so am I.
And you know, I really liked Jami Gertz back in the day, but by this point it’s pretty hard to avoid realizing how many of the roles she played (through no fault of her own, mind you, it’s just what was there for her to play) were functionally inert as characters. Star, as is so drearily usual, exists to motivate Michael’s character by being blandly mysterious and attractive and helpless, and other than that she’s a blank (and boring) slate. Which makes her the one real sour note in what is otherwise a wonderfully demented carnival symphony of a movie.
Speaking of, I can’t possibly let a review of The Lost Boys go by without talking about my favorite thing about it, which is of course the music. I’ve mentioned before on the MRGN that I had a certain selection of movie soundtracks I listened to incessantly as a yoot, and this soundtrack was most definitely one of them.
My sisters and I actually had quite the argument over what song from the (badass) soundtrack was actually the theme of the film. I, naturally, held out for the deliciously Gothy ominousness of Gerard McMann’s “Cry Little Sister”, which I listened to on freakin’ autorepeat for pretty much the entirety of 1987 and 88 (or I would have if autorepeat had actually been a thing at that point, because wow I just remembered it wasn’t, so actually I just rewound the cassette tape about fifty billion times, but whatever). Meanwhile Liz campaigned for the awesome cover of The Doors’ “People Are Strange” by Echo and the Bunnymen, which I shamefully confess I like more than the original, and am embedding here because the sequence it’s set to in the film is such a great snapshot of late 80s California weirdness:
KATE: Screw that noise. You want 80s weirdness, I’m holding out for greased-up saxophone guy.
ME & LIZ: OMG GREASED-UP SAXOPHONE GUY.
This… this is such magnificently fucked-up shit I can’t even deal. It may be the best thing ever. It’s like, any one thing would have been more than enough, but the oiled muscles PLUS the mullet PLUS the codpiece PLUS the pink tie-dyed spandex pants PLUS the chain link necklace PLUS the saxophone PLUS the pile-driving hip swivels PLUS the duckface, and it’s like some deranged yet sublime 1980s singularity has been achieved, and we should all just give up and go home now because nothing will ever top this moment, ever. Timmy Capello, ladies and gentlemen; feast your eyes, for you’ll not see his like again in a hurry.
And, uh, yes. Vampires! Collapsed hotel caves! Fabulous lighting! Hilariously overblown death scenes! Bill of Bill & Ted with the worst curly mullet in history! This movie had it all, and with the glaring exception of Feminism Failure 101 character Star, all of it was great.
Basically The Lost Boys managed, against all odds, to achieve some strange, near-perfect storm of style, thrills, and absurdity to make what’s possibly my favorite vampire movie ever, and watching it again was some of the best fun my sisters and I have had in quite a while.
And now, the Nostalgia Love to Reality Love 1-10 Scale of Awesomeness!
Reality: 8 (Would have been a 9, but Star brings it down an entire extra point)
And that’s the post, kids! As a note, you may have noticed that the MRGN posts have been a little further apart than previously advertised. This is owing to the increasingly crazy schedules of not only me but my sisters; getting all of us together in one place long enough to watch a movie is proving more and more difficult, to our frustration. So the MRGN is slowing down for the nonce. But never fear! We shall be back at least once more before the end of 2017 to bring you scrummy nostalgia fun, I promise. And in the meantime, remember: if someone offers you maggots, maybe pass up the wine. WISDOM. We out!