80s Movie Challenge Week 4: The Lost Boys (1987)
Well, here we are back in 1987 AGAIN for another instalment of our 80s Movie Challenge (#80smc) in which Paul returns to share more memories of one of his top five favourite films and speaks to some VERY special guests…
It’s true. We’ve only been going four weeks and 75% of our films have been from 1987 with a few more to come before the series ends. Turns out ’87 was an influential year, for a number of reasons.
Let’s go back to 4th July that year – a Saturday. I remember it well. That morning, after watching Get Fresh with my breakfast cereal (live from Cardiff Ice Rink, with music from Living in a Box and my favourites at the time, Mel & Kim) I went for a bath. While I was bathing, the phone rang and my mum knocked on the door, probably saying “It’s for you-hoo” (a catchphrase from a series of adverts for British Telecom at the time). I quickly covered myself up with bubbles and told her it was OK to come in and hand me the phone handset (in the days before mobiles or wireless handsets, the cable was trailed into the bathroom as well).
“Hello?” I said.
“Hi Paul,” came a voice I didn’t instantly recognise. Not Mez or Rob or one of my other friends who I could expect to be ringing me on a Saturday lunchtime. It was a female voice. Well, this was certainly not a development I was expecting.
“It’s me, Julie. From school,” she said.
Now I liked Julie, and I was kind of aware that Julie also had a bit of a crush on me so I had been agonising over how to proceed, being painfully shy around girls and terribly afraid of rejection. That concern was about to be taken out of my hands however as Julie asked me out, and invited me to go on a date with her to the pictures that afternoon.
Asking me out.
To the pictures.
This has never happened before!
Dumbfounded (in a good way) I mumbled my astounded acceptance, and asked her if she had any films in mind. The newspaper reliably informed us that there were two films on at Corby Forum that afternoon: Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol (which I had actually already seen) and…
I bet you thought it was going to be The Lost Boys, right?
Wrong. That didn’t come out for a few more months in the UK – and it was a 15 certificate while we were both twelve. No! What we went to see was the new James Bond film starring the new James Bond at the time, Timothy Dalton in The Living Daylights.
“So why have you wasted half a page talking about a different film?” I hear you ask. There is a good reason, I assure you. Well, maybe a tentative reason, but it’s a reason all the same (Just get on with it, Ed.).
Er. Quite. Well, I met Julie at the cinema. First off, I was quite disappointed that, at my first ever date, she turned up with her friend Helene. Not what I was expecting but, thinking back now, maybe Julie was more nervous than I was and wanted a friend there for support. Anyway, we got our tickets from the desk, grabbed some popcorn from the kiosk and settled down, hand-in-hand. Which was possibly a mistake.
The trailers began and we whispered in each other’s ears about how we might like to see the likes of Innerspace, Adventures in Babysitting, Beverly Hills Cop II etc and then came a trailer for a film I knew nothing about. Here it is:
Dear God! That looked like the single most terrifying thing we could ever imagine. In our defence, we were 12 – Julie only by a week and boy did she squeeze my hand. Hard. Very hard!
What you have to remember is that in 1987 vampires were a far scarier prospect than the romance obsessed, moping stalkers we’re kind of used to these days. Last year I wrote a piece for Ginger Nuts of Horror about how another vampire film scared but inspired me into writing and, I also chose Fright Night as my top favourite horror movie poster in a video on my YouTube channel due to its terrifying imagery, which particularly scared me when I happened to glimpse it in the video rental section of the BP garage near my nan’s house.
Yep, vampires were properly scary back in the day. There was no way in the world I was going to see that film. So I tried to put it out of my mind and concentrate on the films I did like as a teen in the 80s – adventure and comedy mostly. I’ll fill you in on how the rest of the date went at the bottom of the page, but needless to say, Julie did not become the oft-mentioned Mrs C (I had progressed from Jayne, Joanne and Julie and moved up a letter in the alphabet to K by the mid-90s – just so you know, there was not a string of girls from A to I prior to the J’s. Nope. Not a string. Not a single letter in fact).
It must have been at least a couple of years later – around late summer 1989 by my reckoning, when my friend Mez, who I mentioned a few weeks back, gave me a cassette he had taped from an LP his mum owned, urging me to listen to it. Naughty Mez! Don’t you know Home Taping Is Killing Music?.
The tape in question was a band I had been vaguely aware of, mostly thanks to their inclusion on NOW That’s What I Call Music 14 (the shopping trip to buy the former actually features in next week’s story) and its follow-up NOW 15, but who I hadn’t really paid much attention to up to that point.
“What are they called? Inks Is?” I said.
“No, you idiot,” Mez retorted. “It’s ‘In Excess’.”
“Oh! In Excess! Right, gotcha! Yeah, sure, I’ll give it a whirl on my paper round on Sunday.”
“Make sure you do. You will love them.”
As promised I listened to Kick on my paper-round and so began a lifelong love affair with the Antipodean new-wave rockers INXS. As new fans of any band are often wont to do, I started looking into their back catalogue and, these being the days before everybody except Matthew Broderick and Richard Pryor had internet access, I had to go to my local depository of musical knowledge for further info. Discovery Records in Corby. A veritable treasure trove of audio delights, and home to a storekeeper with an encyclopedic knowledge of everything pertaining to pop.
He directed me to all the INXS releases, but he said while they were all good, I really ought to check out this film soundtrack, which had a couple of rare INXS tracks on. He handed me the LP of The Lost Boys. Now by this time I had all but forgotten about (or blocked out, more like) the trailer that had terrified me on that date with Julie. I certainly didn’t connect the name of this album with that of the movie (known only as Scary Vampire Flick Which I Will Not Watch) – so I took his word on it and purchased the album on cassette.
And I loved it. I still rate it as not only my favourite movie soundtrack but also one of my favourite albums, full stop.
Last year in Film Stories magazine, I wrote about Good Times, one of the two INXS songs (both of which were performed with guest vocalist and lead singer of Cold Chisel, Jimmy Barnes) and I uncovered some fascinating titbits about not just that song but about director Joel Schumacher’s song choosing process for the entire film. Here’s an excerpt from that article:
INXS’s version of Good Times is a surprisingly faithful version of The Easybeats’ 1968 hit, although it includes additional lines originally added in a cover by R.E.M side project Hindu Love Gods. This duet was recorded with fellow Aussie rocker Barnes to promote the Australian Made series of concerts.
Hoping to repeat the formula that made his St Elmo’s Fire so successful, Schumacher insisted that popular music play a significant role in the storytelling. However, the budget was smaller, a large portion of it was required for effects and makeup, and the rights to use his prefered music (including The Doors) was prohibitively expensive.
This resulted in a cast and soundtrack largely populated by character actors, newcomers and ageing rockers. Even INXS, who were only just dipping their toes in the waters of the international music scene, were originally out of Schumacher’s price range, eventually agreeing to their songs being used in exchange for him directing their next music video (Devil Inside) for free.
In successfully acquiring the two songs by INXS and Barnes [The other being Laying Down The Law], film history was made. Their inclusion in the movie was reportedly the deciding factor for Kiefer Sutherland (whose David is still one of the great screen vampires) to sign up.
But, as much as I did adore my cassette copy, and played it excessively – some would say, IN-eXceSsively (No, don’t do that. Your pun-fu is not strong. Ed.) – I still had a soundtrack album without any context. I needed to see this “The Lost Boys” to get an idea of the story they were trying to tell. As luck would have it I had recently turned fifteen and as such, was FINALLY allowed to hire 15 certificate films with my “Young Adult Member’s Card”, so I went down to Anne’s Videos that weekend to seek this Lost Boys film out. After a bit of a search, I managed to locate it. And as soon as I turned the VHS cover over in my hands and read the back, memories of that date with Julie came flooding back and I realised this was the terrifying movie I had vowed never to watch.
But the music was sooooo good! What should one do?
“Hire it anyway,” Mez always said of films I wasn’t sure of. “Worst that can happen is it’s rubbish and you don’t watch it again.” Wise words.
So I did. And we took it back to my house to watch. By this time I had saved up my paper round and Saturday job money to buy myself a VHS recorder for my bedroom (well, to pay my Auntie Ann back when she got it from her Grattan’s Catalogue for me). Along with some my friends, Rob, his girlfriend at the time Marie, another Rob who I will call Robbie for the purposes of non-confusion, Marie’s friend Kelly (who fancied Robbie, but the feeling was NOT mutual) and I all crammed into my room – something which I later found out my nan had strongly and vocally disapproved of to my mum as we all piled up the stairs. “Boys and girls, in the same room, together!? Not in my day!” Sorry Nan, but sadly, nothing happened. Story of my life up to that point!
Well, we just loved it. Yes there were jumps, and yes it was a bit scary, and yes, Marie and Kelly did jump into Rob and Robbie’s arms on more than one occasion, but it was equally funny and exciting. And those vampires… So cool. So sexy. Watching The Lost Boys made me want to be a vampire. Which tied in perfectly with the movie’s strapline “Sleep All Day, Party All Night. Never Grow Old. Never Die. It’s Fun To Be A Vampire.”
Of course, I went out to buy myself a home VHS copy at the earliest opportunity, so I could watch it over and over, and that led me to check out another film I had previously been too frightened to watch, but now love (Fright Night). But most importantly of all, to me at least, having seen the film and listened to the soundtrack multiple times, the music made much more sense.
Those songs were as much a character in the film as the flaky but kind-hearted matriarch Lucy (Dianne Weist), the bumbling video shop owner Max (Edward Hermann), the wannabe Van Helsings the Frog Brothers (Corey Feldman & Jamison Newlander) and the Emerson brothers (Corey Haim and Jason Patric). My CD copy of The Lost Boys is very rarely not beside my CD player, ready to pop it on at a moment’s notice (the tape got worn out long ago).
So imagine my excitement when the annual For The Love of Horror convention in Manchester announced they were holding a reunion of the stars of The Lost Boys. And two of the guests were performers from the soundtrack album, Tim Cappello and G Tom Mac. Although I was busy on the Saturday, I still HAD to go to that event, one way or another. Luckily, I was free for day two of the festivities so on Sunday 20th October 2019, I strolled into the exhibition centre to be greeted by this:
And on the reverse side:
This was going to be a good day! Better than I could even imagine, it turns out.
During the Q&A panels, I managed to get to speak to stars of the film Alex Winter, Jamison Newlander, Chance Michael Corbitt and Tim Cappello, who sang I Still Believe on the album soundtrack.
Here’s what they had to say:
Alex Winter (Marco)
PAUL: Marco was my favourite vampire…
ALEX: Oh, thank you!
PAUL: I was upset about what happened to him…
ALEX: What happened to him?
PAUL: First come, first staked!
ALEX: [Laughs] That’s an honour man! What are you talking about?
PAUL: I read that they put glitter in the blood so they could get the age rating of the film down, so can you tell me, how does it feel to be the original Sparkly Vampire?
[Applause and laughter from the audience]
ALEX: Oooooh! You know I’m a pretty sparkly guy! [Laughs] It’s a funny thing, I don’t really remember any of that because I think it was that they built a whole version of my body to gush the blood out of so I never really interacted with the glitter too much.
I told this story yesterday, but it was fun, and I was dying in the dirt, with the Two Coreys kicking dirt into my contact lenses. Other than that it was cool!
Jamison Newlander (Alan Frog)
PAUL: I know you couldn’t keep the comic books [from the Frog Brothers’ parents’ comic book store in the film] but did you get to keep any of your other gear, like the vampire hunting kit, or the beret, or anything else?
JAMISON: You know, I kept it for a while. I was just telling someone at the [signing] tables that I kept a lot of stuff for a while and then I moved and it all got kinda… I think there’s a bunch in my garage, you know, in boxes and things like that, but I don’t have any of it – I don’t know where it is!
It should be somewhere. I came across my script actually, not too long ago and also, about two weeks ago I was looking through my closet and I found the – you know in the comic book store – the army shirt I wear with the dice on the sleeve? So that was reconstructed off of a shirt that was my dad’s army shirt and I wore it to the audition – and I came across that and I was like “Wow! That’s amazing!”
And it almost fits. Almost! And I was happy that it was close. Just a little snug!
Chance Michael Corbitt (Laddie)
Earlier Chance, who played the little boy vampire Laddie, shared a story about a traumatic experience on the set:
So my one big scene in the movie was when I came out of the bed right, so leading up to that I had no clue what it was. It was pretty simplistic the idea of it, it was just an air compressor, under a bed with a hole cut in it. We did the scene and I wouldn’t go back in, I became petrified. I dunno what happened, I couldn’t go back in. I was crying, and so they put Larry [Nicholas], who was my fantastic stunt double in, he did probably four or five takes. And to this day still, that moment, I look back and I laugh at it now, but that was a very real moment. I was scared shitless to be quite frank.
So I tied my question in with that:
PAUL: I remember being 11 or 12 and seeing the trailer, thinking the film looked utterly terrifying, the bit where they went out to get the dog and everyone’s at the door screaming “Come back! They’re coming!” and I wondered, given your story about them being conscious of your physical safety on the set, what did they do to protect you from some of the scarier elements, like the makeup and the horror effects?
CHANCE: I think it’s different. I think once you’re there… I did a movie where I got scared, right after The Lost Boys called Pumpkinhead and it was day two that I was there – I walked into a trailer by accident and that’s where they had the creature, and it was dark. That scared the shit out of me! I was really scared.
With The Lost Boys, the only thing that really scared me on the set was that scene [mentioned above]. Overall it was fine. There was a process to get in the makeup and I understood it because I was a vampire, and seeing everybody else, it wasn’t scary at all… They didn’t really have to… Or maybe they did and I just didn’t know because there wasn’t any moment when I really felt scared. But it was kind of cool to put the makeup on, and then you go down to the Warner Brothers commissary and you’re sitting there with this cool makeup on eating lunch with people. It was very cool. And they never saw a problem with that, and in that context the makeup was suitable.
Tim Cappello (Beach Concert Star)
I met Tim earlier in the day at the signing tables, where he signed my copy of the film’s soundtrack album.
We also chatted about another of his musical projects, which I raised again during his panel:
PAUL: When we talked earlier I mentioned Dark All Day by Gunship…
TIM: Anybody see that? The Gunship video?
[A few cries of “Yeah!” from around the auditorium]
PAUL: …so I was wondering how did it make you feel to see yourself on screen as a cartoon?
TIM: I loved the way they did it. The anime in the beginning and then going to live-action. It was… It was so cool! But of course, I could never live [up to] that man who must have been 350 pounds of pure muscle! So I think they exaggerated me quite a bit! But it was fun to see an exaggeration!
But I gotta tell you the most interesting thing was as soon as I walked in the door they sprayed me down with that blood – right? Because if anybody’s seen it, it just rains blood on the whole band for the whole video! And they just sprayed me with that blood and it was falling from the ceiling, and it took me four weeks to get all that fake blood out of my saxophone!
[Jokingly] So I’m pissed off with those guys actually!
Tim also went on to tell a story about how he came to record the song I Still Believe for the film’s soundtrack:
I got this part because I was auditioning for the Gary Busey part in Lethal Weapon. [Gasps and cries of “Really?” from the audience] They always wanted me to be a drug dealer or a psychopath of some sort. Do I have that kind of vibe? Maybe I do. I must yeah! So when I was doing it I was actually late for the audition.
Have you ever been in your car and heard a song, and you can’t go into the store, you have to wait until it’s over because you have to wait for the DJ to tell you who it is, because you never heard it before, and where you can get it? I swear to you, this sounds like BS but it was I Still Believe [by American rock band The Call]. And I was late for my audition because I needed to write it down.
When I went in, of course, I didn’t get the part. Gary Busey got the part. But a man I’d never met before in my life, he just looked at me and said “You play with Tina Turner. Come with me.” This was on the Warner Brothers lot. He walked me into Joel Shumacher’s office. I opened the door and Joel had a picture of me with Tina over his desk so he was a big fan of Tina’s and he liked my playing.
So I said [to myself] “Whatever this gig is, I think I got it!”
So he just… It was as simple as him saying “You wanna sing a song in a movie?”
And I went “Yeah, sure. What day do you want to do it?” and it was that simple but I loved that song so much, by the time I recorded it, that they asked me to write a song, but they rejected it. And that was the luckiest thing that ever happened to me because this song… It really is a prayer. It’s so deep and it’s so beautiful. Had I just written some piece of fluff for the movie to try to make some money that would have been a huge mistake.
So when we went in to record the song – anybody that’s ever been into a recording studio knows you put the headphones on and you go in the booth right? And you sing, and you do it a few times, and you give them a good performance. I knew that song so well, I loved it so much that I literally sat in the control room and had no headphones on – they just blasted the tune at me and I was singing into a hundred dollar mic because they didn’t think they could ever get a good take out of it – but I loved it so much that the first take was just… it was just an act of love. It took me more time to figure out the little saxophone bits, of where I could put them than it did to record that vocal!
You hear somebody who truly loved what I was doing.
Here’s a snippet of Tim performing I Still Believe at the event:
Also present was singer/songwriter G Tom Mac. He didn’t take any questions during his Sunday slot (although he had done the day before), but he did perform his contribution to the film’s soundtrack – Cry Little Sister which is credited to him under the name Gerard McMann.
He performed several songs from his musical A Lost Boys Story. But of course, what everyone wanted to hear was Cry Little Sister, which he also sang. Here’s a clip:
Although I didn’t get to talk to Kiefer Sutherland (David), Jason Patric (Michael Emerson) or Billy Wirth (Dwayne) who were available for signing only on the Sunday (having had their Q&A session the day before), I still went home a very happy boy.
But what about my date with Julie? I did promise to fill you in on that.
Well, it didn’t go brilliantly. At about the halfway point of The Living Daylights, Julie and Helene said they were going to the bathroom.
They didn’t come back.
For the rest of the film.
And weren’t in the foyer.
So I had to walk home on my own.
I’m still not quite sure what happened there. I bumped into Julie in 2018 at a school reunion and she apologised for that ill-fated date, as did I for being the kind of date someone wanted to walk out on! So at least we got a degree of closure there. And we’re still friends, which is nice.
However, Julie and I did continue to go out for a good few months afterwards – including a lovely date to Silver Blades in Birmingham in the spring of 1988 before breaking up ever-so-politely that summer and deciding to remain friends instead. Hearing House Arrest by Krush or Beat Dis by Bomb The Bass still brings back memories of whizzing around in the ice rink, laughing hand-in-hand.
In a strange twist of fate, another song which features in a pivotal scene in the film but doesn’t appear on the soundtrack album became a large part of my continued, albeit infrequent romantic adventures. When I was a student I was invited out to a nightclub called Manhattan’s in Southport to celebrate the birthday of a friend from university – a girl I had just met the week before called Kirsty. That night, we danced together to that certain song from The Lost Boys. Four days later we became an “item” and That Song was upgraded to Our Song.
And reader, I married her. At our wedding reception, we asked for the DJ to play Our Song for the traditional First Dance but to our dismay, the DJ did not have it. We settled for A Kiss From A Rose by Seal instead, but Walk This Way by Run-DMC, the song that accompanies the scene where the vampires reveal their true nature and horrifically murder a screaming gang of beach punks, will always be Our Song.
Join us next week when We’ll Be Back with Paul and Andee Dee who’ll share more movie memories, this time leaping back to 1984 (albeit fully clothed) to look at the time travelling, assassinaty shenanigans of The Terminator.
One thought on “80s Movie Challenge Week 4: The Lost Boys (1987)”
Quite a few of my memories of the film are coloured by the fact that it was particular connected to a girl I was seeing. I didn’t really become aware of it until we were together, as I wasn’t a big vampire movie fan. I wasn’t big on horror movies generally, as I didn’t really find them scary at all (I notably once got thrown out of a showing of Candyman for laughing so much I was disturbing the rest of the audience).
The Lost Boys were a great favourite, and she even convinced me to read The Vampire Lestat (which I actually quite enjoyed, to be honest). Most of the arguments with her mates centred around: Kiefer or Jason, before agreement usually converged on both. At once. It was also fun because of Alex W, as we were all big Bill & Ted fans too. It’s a film I look back on with a great deal of affection, because it works recall well, and had a killer soundtrack too 🙂