Contains mild spoilers
We all have an introductory point to any genre. That sweet aperitif that opens the palette to more savoury offerings, further down life’s menu. The horror genre is no exception, and across the years many teen screams and blue-veined throats have been offered up for our delectation, as our lust for vampires reigns eternal. These popcorn moments of fear and desire lead down darker pathways, should the new initiate pick up a taste for the macabre.
Here at WGN we take an affectionate look back at The Lost Boys; a film that sent your reviewer seeking out the juiciest morsels of vampire culture she could find, as she morphed gleefully into a full-blown baby bat with Kiefer Sutherland issues way back in 1989.
Let’s Get It Started
A moody sea, a full moon blushing across the clouds. A tangle of lights on the horizon: a rollercoaster of promise in the sky as music breaks across the scene, entreating us to follow the Ten Commandments as intoned by spectral children.
Welcome to Santa Carla. Murder Capital of the World.
Dem Bones, Dem Bones, Dem Damn Cheekbones
Daylight over the water brings us a family in flux, leaving a broken home in a beat-up old car with everything they own, falling upon Grandpa’s charity. We meet our two teens crushes, the older brother Michael Emmerson (Jason Patrick) with his razorblade cheekbones and equally sharp chin. He’s all angles and jut, but his eyes are pretty. Team Michael!
There’s Sam (Corey Haim), the younger brother with a truly horrific wardrobe of bright colours and geometric squares. He screams 1985 on every frame. Mum Lucy and dog Nanook. Sam hates Santa Carla on sight, and to be fair, it hates him and his geometric angles right back. This is Goth in the Sun central.
David and Sam head out to explore and wind up watching an extremely buff man slick with baby oil wailing on a saxophone, down at the fairground. In wanders honeypot Star (Jamie Gertz), light as a fairy created from moonshine.
Star makes bad perms look amazing. She wears flowing skirts and silver bracelets and does boho before boho existed. She is responsible for my own Great Perm Disaster of 1989, in which I envisaged looking like a newly released moonbeam, yet ended up screaming Bonnie Langford. Michael sees her dance and he is snared by her wafting curls, ditching Sam to follow his hormones through the crowd.
In strut The Lost Boys. You’d be forgiven for thinking they were a 1980s rock band. Skid Row and Twisted Sister would have been proud to feature these hot muffins on any album cover. TWANG! go a million teenage ovaries.
Their de-facto leader is the glorious David (Kiefer Sutherland). You know he’s a bad boy because he’s got a shark’s tooth earring and an army greatcoat that he swishes with aplomb.
He also seems to have his own special white spotlight that illuminates every sneer, every lip curl on that unusual yet mesmerizing face. Oh David, with those spikey eyelashes just burning up with vampire cunning. TWANG! Team David!
Dwayne (Dwayne? Who calls a hot vampire Dwayne? Enquiring minds wanna know, as Sam would say) flicks his hair. David reduces Michael to rubble with a sneer before steaming off on his throbbing motorbike sans helmet. At the sight of all that hotness, I lose the plot.
Meanwhile, the earth loses its ozone layer as a thousand imitation mullets receive entire cans of Hard Rock Hairspray.
The Actual Plot
This is a pretty film, filled with attractive souls. It catches the eye in a very easy way, even thirty odd years down the track. Much hormonal twanging ensues.
There is more to it than this, however. The original Lost Boys were a creation of J.M. Barrie in Peter Pan. They served as adjuncts to Peter, doing his bidding, held static in time. The parallel here is clear. Yet they seemingly have no Peter of their own. Or do they?
There’s a longing for love, for family in this film. For all the broken marriage and lack of money, Lucy has given her boys a good and loving home. The Lost Boys are looking for this, hungry for it in fact, in a way that may not at first be obvious. They too are kin. You see it when David cries in the shadows, when Marco loses his entrails all over Sam and the Frog Brothers.
Sam and the Frog Brothers provide a Goonies for Grownups element, bridging us across one film age bracket to another. They are cute, resourceful and way more effective than hapless Michael, who lapsed into a twilight sulk for much of the film. Erm, Team Frog? Perhaps not.
This film is rich pickings for one-liners. Even if you’ve not seen the film you’ve probably seen the image of David glowering in his spotlight on his tatty throne, food carton in hand saying, ‘They’re only noodles Michael.’
Sam, The Frog Brothers and Grandpa also get some killer lines. DEATH BY STEREO! is immortal.
Michael mumbles and goes a little jaundiced about the eyes. Those cheekbones can take it.
The Honeypot Problem
Going back to this film without my teenage filter engaged, you see that the role of Star is a diminished one, with no real function other than to be a beautiful honey pot. When she does speak up or try to warn Michael that David’s intentions are not good, she is overruled – even by Michael himself who chooses to follow David (and be one of the boys). When he discovers his mistake he takes his initial wrath out on her.
This could be a reflection of Barrie’s original concept, where Peter says that there are no Lost Girls because they are too clever to fall out of their prams. If this film were made now it is likely that Star would have a more rounded role that reflects this, a larger part in the drama that requires her to do more than waft her pretty hair and skirts around. However, this could apply to any number of films from this era and beyond, and is a minor complaint.
Still haven’t forgiven her for my travesty of a perm, mind you.
The Lost Boys remains fast, funny and on occasion brutal. There are scenes that hit the horror button square on the nose – an eyeball popping out here, a fang spurting blood on a shaven head there. Never ever get dead vampire in your plumbing. Causes blockages for days.
There’s the insidious pull of immortal youth, a charmed life filled with beautiful girls with celestial names, cool hangouts and a superb soundtrack. Use it to whet your horror appetite, to draw you into the dark. People have never been stranger.
Remember to follow the hashtag #31DOH on Twitter and Facebook every day in October to see what other terrifying treats we’ve been watching!