The Lost Boys (1985)

Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #167

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Number of Views: Multiple
Release Date:  31 July 1987 (USA)
Sub-Genre: Cult Film/Vampire
Country of Origin: United States
Budget: $8,500,000
Box-Office: $32,222,567 (US)
Running Time: 97 minutes
Director: Joel Schumacher
Producer: Harvey Bernhard
Screenplay: Janice Fischer, James Jeremias, Jeffrey Boam
Special Effects: Matt Sweeney
Cinematography: Michael Chapman
Score: Thomas Newman
Editing: Robert Brown
Studio: Warner Brothers
Distributor: Warner Brothers
Stars: Corey Feldman, Jamison Newlander, Jami Gertz, Corey Haim, Edward Herrmann, Barnard Hughes, Jason Patric, Kiefer Sutherland, Dianne Wiest, Billy Wirth, Alex Winter, Chance Michael Corbitt, Alexander Bacan Chapman, Nori Morgan, Kelly Jo Minter

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Suggested Audio Garlic

Gerard McMahon “Cry Little Sister”

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People sure are strange. Ask Grandpa, he’s sick and tired of all the vampires and it’s easy to see why. They hover into your boudoir all Salem’s Lot at the dead of night, tapping away on your patio door as though you have nothing better to do than to tend to their every whim and then, once you finally grant them access, they drain your essence before you can say “but I’m on Team Edward.” Of course, they come bearing promises of eternal life and youth but their pledges are ultimately as hollow as their souls.

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In The Lost Boys naive Lucy decides to move her two teenage sons to a nice quiet coastal town, believing this will represent a fresh new start and quickly rues that decision as certain undesirables make their presence known and quickly adopt older brother Michael into the fold. At first he is fascinated and becomes transfixed with Star, who just so happens to be the girlfriend of the leader of the troupe David. Yada yada yada, I’m actually boring myself here. Listen, we’ve all seen this film countless times right? Unless you’ve spent the past thirty years under a rock you’ll be fully aware how it all plays out. Joel Schumacher’s The Lost Boys has become the stuff of legends and, still to this day, is considered to be the best modern vampire film by many vehement disciples.

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The question is, how does it stack up against other works from its time? I never was one for taking sides, if asked The Lost Boys or Near Dark I’d simply pipe up “both”. Does that make me gluttonous or, worse still, a cop out? No actually I believe that suggests that I like a decent vampire flick and why the hell should I have to take sides anyhoots? They’re both classic works but The Lost Boys is the easier to frequent. Regardless of allegiance the figures tell their own tale.

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All the stars aligned for Schumacher and this resulted in it grossing over thirty million in the United States alone upon release, small wonder it eventually spawned two belated sequels. As a modern-day reenactment of a classic horror fable it worked remarkably well and this was bolstered by universally sound acting chops from the vim-filled Frog Brothers right through to dab hands Dianne Wiest, Edward Herrmann and Barnard Hughes who was simply priceless as taxidermist cum Grandpa.

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Keifer Sutherland took an enormous stride out of his father’s elongated shadow as the charismatic yet ice-cold David, head honcho for the nightcrawlers and Michael’s constant cock-block. Along with his motley crew of shape-shifting chums, he convinced us all that we wanted to be a part of their gang, ride with them, drop off bridges into the mist at the dead of night. Hell, I even fancied me a chalice of that delicious crimson by the time refreshments were called in. Moody Jason Patric provided just the right counter-balance although the lines became progressively more blurred as his involvement deepened.

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One exclusive pleasure came in the form of comic store owners Edgar and Alan played by Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander. Their shared chemistry as The Frog Brothers was genuine and it is no wonder they were asked to reprise their roles way down the line. Feldman was popping up in all manner of revered classics in the eighties and boasts a résumé which includes undisputed heavy-hitters such as The Burbs, The Goonies, Gremlins and Stand By Me. This was another sizable notch in his belt and he was in his element alongside Newlander as the bungling double-pronged spawn of Van Helsing.

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The late Corey Haim was also on a hot streak around the time and this marked the Coreys’ first time working together on set, a partnership which would yield License To Drive and Dream a Little Dream in years to come, amongst others. Haim was suitably cast as Michael’s younger brother Sam, bemused by his older brother and idol’s sudden hormonal swing and playing the rabbit in headlights with the customary wide-eyed verve that had made Lucas such a sleeper hit. His exchanges with The Frog Brothers provided many of the film’s lighter moments, while Michael was swanning off on the commencement of his new-found eternal mortality.

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For all its teenage kicks, The Lost Boys was a dark and moody little number. Michael Chapman’s opulent photography had eerie planes of dark and light throughout and a wonderful sweeping shot from the sea shot from bat’s eye perspective. In addition, the soundtrack was evocative of its era and featured Run DMC, INXS, Echo & The Bunnymen as well as Gerard McMahon’s entrancing Cry Little Sister. All of this conspired to make The Lost Boys one of the most highly revered films of 1985.

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For Keeper though, the chief reason that Schumacher’s movie stood out from the crowd is that it never relied too heavily on its contemporary setting, giving it a classic feel which ensures it has remained as fresh-faced as the bloodsuckers of its title. There really are few eighties movies quite so iconic, exuding quite as much flamboyance and cool as Schumacher’s cult favorite.

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Personally I always viewed The Lost Boys from the doey-eyed perspective of Sam. As an adolescent I was similarly awkward and energetic, idolized my father which, in effect, is the figure Michael played. I was cool as a pimp with a cane and funnier than a llama with Tourette’s but the only person who knew it was me. I watched this for the first time while still growing into my skin and it seduced me with its promises of in-crowd status.

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That, for me, is why I hold it in such lofty regard all these years on. I wanted so badly to be a lost boy, indeed, it appeared to be the only way of truly being found. As a grown man now with eyebrows which grow more unruly with each day that passes, the goals still remain exactly the same and The Lost Boys remains just as vital now as it did back then. It seems that Schumacher really did find the key to eternal youth after all.

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Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 9/10

Grue Factor: 2/5

For the Grue-Guzzlers: Decidedly vicious without reliance on grue, Chapman’s sweeping cinematography was designed to make you feel just as discombobulated as its quarry and therein was the pay-off. One particular fleeting campfire slaughter was an exquisite exemplar of this technique in swirling motion. The make-up effects were exemplary and, whether being melted down in holy water, impaled or simply exploding, the vampires really knew how to punch the clock in style.

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Read Near Dark Appraisal

Read Vamp Appraisal

Read Fright Night (1985) Appraisal

Read Martin Appraisal

Richard Charles Stevens

Keeper of The Crimson Quill

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