The Test of Time: The Lost Boys (1987)

We all have certain movies we love. Movies we respect without question because of either tradition, childhood love, or because they’ve always been classics. However, as time keeps ticking, do those classics still hold up? Do they continue to be must see? So…the point of this here column is how a film stands against the Test of Time, if the thing holds up for a modern horror audience.

Director: Joel Schumacher
Starring: Jason Patric, Corey Haim, and Kiefer Sutherland

I think certain movies can truly define a decade. Sometimes it’s the cast or director. Sometimes it’s the subject matter. Sometimes it’s a dumb catchphrase. No matter because as the years tick by, some flicks just manage to stick around even when they probably shouldn’t. Back in the mid 1980’s, Joel Schumacher was becoming a hit director, Kiefer Sutherland was the next badass of cinema, and the two Corey’s were the next…shit…the next thing. They all joined forces for a teenage vampire movie with a title inspired by Peter Pan. But does it manage to hold steady against the Test of Time?

Under the examination: THE LOST BOYS.

Red lighting = something bad.

THE STORY: When a divorced mother (Dianne Wiest) and her two kids Sam (Corey Haim) and Michael (Jason Patric) head west to Santa Carla, CA to move in with her father (Barnard Hughes), they have dreams of starting over. What they don’t plan on is freakin’ vampires led by a hip blonde David (Kiefer Sutherland) who quickly brings Michael into their world of darkness. Sam isn’t cool with that, so he enlists the Frog brothers (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander) to help clean house and save his big brother. 

Even vampires dig Chinese food. 

WHAT STILL HOLDS UP:  Almost 30 years after being released, THE LOST BOYS still freakin’ rocks. It’s a rock n’roll vampire movie that never takes itself too seriously…but still serious enough where we care about the characters and the bad guys produce legitimate scares. Oh sure, the vampire thing is a bit played out now, but like any good monster, it comes and goes out of style. And while something like TWILIGHT will probably be looked back at as an odd pop culture phenomenon, THE LOST BOYS seems to only get better with age. 

A steaming pile of credit (wait, that sounds bad) goes to director Joel Schumacher, who had just helped bring in a fresh crop of stars to the mainstream with ST. ELMO’S FIRE. Richard Donner opted for LETHAL WEAPON over THE LOST BOYS, so Schumacher struck big time again by putting the Corey’s together. More than being responsible for blowing up Teen Beat, what I love is Schumacher’s effective use of fog throughout the film to hide all the effects that they either couldn’t afford or couldn’t do correctly. It makes everything that much more freaky and frightening like Michael lets go underneath the railroad tracks (and then lands in his bed). Or when David and his boys fly around, we only get a camera POV, which is a cheat but still better than seeing Kiefer hanging from wires. (Too bad David’s best vamp gift is turning rice into maggots and noodles into worms! Now that’s power.) But that’s what makes THE LOST BOYS work. It focuses on the characters and doesn’t worry too much about the vampire mythology, playing around with the conventions (like with the Corey’s test suspected vampire/mom’s date Max at dinner). 

There's enough hairspray for everyone. Relax, fellas. 

There isn’t a weak link in the cast. Sutherland is at the top of his game as David, the cocky asshole leader. Their mom is solid and grandpa really is a tough old bastard. But this movie is about the Corey’s. Now something happened to the Corey’s as they got older. Too many drugs, too much fame. But in 1987, they were teen badasses to say the least. Haim actually surprised me here as Sam as he’s stupid likeable and entertaining and delivers lines like, “You’re a vampire, Michael. My own brother, a goddamn, shit-sucking vampire. You wait ‘till mom finds out, buddy!” Feldman is equally as good as the main Frog brother, Edgar. He doesn’t have a lot of screen time but when he’s there, all decked out in camo and bad attitude, he’s likeable enough. This might have been one of the last times either one of them was actually believable in a movie.

When teen dreams met. 

WHAT BLOWS NOW: Love it or hate it, THE LOST BOYS either defines the 80’s or is defined BY the 80’s. Hard to say. The hair, the clothes, the style, the Corey’s. It’s something to either dig or despise depending on…well a lot of things. Regardless, perhaps the worst part about the entire production comes from the saxophone man. If you don’t know it, google the scene. It’s just stupid.  At times THE LOST BOYS feels a bit uneven. It’s scary, it’s silly, it’s romantic, it’s comic book. It weaves in and out of moods and styles mostly seamlessly, but at times it gets annoying. The same goes for Michael, who in general who comes across more like a whiny teen who wants to look like Jim Morrison but ends up more of a douche who just likes some girl that he just met.

THE VERDICT: Oh sure, THE LOST BOYS sure IS the 1980’s, but make no mistake, that only enhances the goodness, the creativity, and the entertainment. It remains, and will continue to remain, a solid horror classic. 




Now that's a strangely placed flower. 



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