Tuesday, April 5, 2016

80’s SoCal Surf Punk Vampires, or Thoughts on The Lost Boys

OK so the vampires in the Lost Boys (1987) don’t technically surf, but they race their motorcycles on a moonlit beach, and the ocean is central to the character of the town and film.  The town in question is the fictional Santa Carla, a stand-in for Santa Cruz, complete with a popular boardwalk with both a carousel and roller coaster.  I always like these generic city names they make up, like the infamous Antonio Bay from The Fog (1980) or White Pine Bay from Bates Motel.  It’s an unnecessary detail, but it shows that the depth of the filmmaker’s vision in that they took the time to name all the characters and even the town they inhabit.
Directed by Joel Schumaker, who you know for single-handedly derailing his career with the introduction of the bat-nipples in Batman Forever (1995), The Lost Boys brought the modern 80’s Southern California youth culture to the vampire genre.  He made his bloodsuckers radical, and inadvertently cobbled together an 80’s tribute, complete with MTV references and video rental stores.
Diane Weist is the clueless single mom who gets a job in the aforementioned video rental store, and the parents in this teen movie are depicted as overworked or out of touch hippies.   It’s similar to Near Dark, which came out the same year, in the sense that a handsome guy meets a beautiful vampire girl, but these two 80’s vampire movies couldn’t be more dissimilar.
It’s parallel story between two brothers, the older Michael played by Jason Patric falls in with a bad element on the boardwalk who also happen to be vampires, and the younger brother Sam, as played by 80’s superstar Corey Haim, who saves him.  And this brings us to The Lost Boys greatest strength and fatal flaw, it stars Corey Haim and Corey Feldman, who works in a comic book store and serves as the movie’s Van Helsing.
The two Coreys were an 80’s powerhouse with tremendous box office.  Corey Haim drives the plot and is given a lot of screen time and star billing.  He plays to his strengths, which was goofy comedy, and adds a confusing element to a surprisingly bloodless R-rated vampire movie. Along with Feldman, one of the biggest or at least most popular stars of the 80’s, but from a modern perspective, the extra scenes of him singing in the bathtub or showing off his comic book knowledge seem self-indulgent and distracting.   His half of The Lost Boys is almost like a Mickey Rooney movie, Andy Hardy Meets Count Dracula (and I want to live in the alternate history where that movie was actually made).
The second half of the movie, driven Kiefer Sutherland, Jami Gerz and the vampires, is far darker and nihilistic.  These vampires party like dead rock stars, and there are Jim Morrison references scattered throughout the movie from his iconic poster to the cover of People Are Strange by legendary punk band Echo And the Bunnymen.  You get to see the famous Chinese food scene referenced in What We Do in The Shadows (2014, Do you like basketti), and watch out for Alex Winter, aka Bill S. Preston, esq. as Marco, one of the vampires.
But the breakout star, and the reason you remember this movie is of course, Kiefer Sutherland.  He had already made a name for himself as a teen villain in Stand By Me (1986) and in the next year would star in Bright Lights, Big City and Young Guns and become a founding member of the legendary Brat Pack.  His 80’s bleached blonde hair, something between a mohawk and a mullet, is a perfect metaphor for the decade.  It’s bright, confusing, equally cool and embarrassing, and a whole lot of fun.


my first novel? thanks for asking:) I wrote a 4 book supernatural martial arts series concerning the ongoing feud between a group of kung-fu killer witches in san francsico’s chinatown.