The “Lost Boys,” which was released on January 31, 1987, would go on to win the 1988 Saturn Award for Best Horror Film from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA. Directed by Joel Schumacher (A Time to Kill), the film is a mixture of dark comedy and horror, and was based on a story co-written by Jan Fischer and James Jeremias. Fischer and Jeremias, who had first envisioned the movie being a much more child friendly film, at the insistence of Schumacher, worked on the screenplay with Jeffrey Boam, who radically helped to change the movie’s overall tone.
The film’s 97 minute runtime, begins in the evening at an amusement park. There are four guys causing trouble on the boardwalk at the merry-go-round. A security guard, who already warned the four to stay off the boardwalk, drives his point home by using his club to try and intimidate the leader of the group; it is a mistake, he will not get to regret for very long. Later that night, after the park closes and the lights have been turned off, as the rotund, mustachioed rent-a-cop is walking toward his car, he is attacked. He is not held at gun point, nor does he have a knife put to his throat, no he is assaulted from something that descends from the sky. Although, as viewers, we are not privy to what ultimately happens to the man, we do hear his screams pierce the night air.
The next scene strongly contrasts with what just transpired. During a picturesque day, recently divorced mother, Lucy, played by Academy Award and Golden Globe winner, Dianne Wiest (Bullets over Broadway), is traveling in her car from Phoenix, Arizona, to move to Santa Carla, California. She is accompanied by her two sons: Michael, portrayed by Jason Patric (Narc), and Sam, acted by Corey Haim (License to Drive), as well as Sam’s Alaskan Malamute, Nanook. The town they have chosen to move to is where Lucy’s father, Primetime Emmy winner, Barnard Hughes (Lou Grant), makes his home. He is an old, marijuana smoking, hippie type, known throughout the film simply as Grandpa. Hughes provides a good deal of the comic relief in the film. Unbeknownst to the family, they have moved to a place that is also referred to by town locals as ‘the murder capital of the world.’ There do seem to be an inordinate number of missing person notices posted around town. Initially, however, Sam’s biggest problem, is that even though his grandfather receives the TV Guide in the mail, he doesn’t own a television.
The next evening, while the family is walking around on the boardwalk, Michael and Sam wander off on their own. It doesn’t take long before Michael spots a girl who he is absolutely taken with. He will later learn her name is Star, played by Emmy nominated actress, Jami Gertz (The Neighbors). Michael and Sam begin to follow her, and a little boy, named Laddie (Chance Michael Corbitt), who Star is watching after. Sam wants to know what is happening, since all they seem to be doing, is walking around aimlessly. Michael, tiring of Sam’s questions, and his hanging out with him in general, asks if there isn’t anything better he could be doing. As fate would have it, at just that moment, Sam spots a comic book shop. It turns out not to matter anyway, whether Sam tagged along or not because, whatever may or may not have happened between Michael and Star, doesn’t take place on that particular evening.
While Sam is walking around the comic shop, he is being closely watched by Edgar and Alan, also known as The Frog Brothers, portrayed by Corey Feldman (The Goonies) and Jamison Newlander (Lost Boys: The Thirst). After the brothers approach Sam, he begins to tell them that their comic books are arranged in the wrong order, due to a variety of reasons. Edgar hands Sam a comic titled “Vampires Everywhere,” to which he replies, “no thanks, I am not into horror comics.” Feldman informs Sam, that he will like the particular comic he is giving him, because it might one day save his life. The next day, Sam returns to the shop. This time, Feldman again hands him another vampire themed comic, titled “Destroy All Vampires.” Sam reiterates the fact that those types of comics just aren’t what he likes to read, to which Alan responds “think of it as a survival manual.” The Frog brothers also list their phone number on the back of the comic book, with the admonition to Sam, that he should pray that he never needs to use it.
As for Lucy, the previous evening, while she was out looking for any kind of job she could secure, she runs across the polite, bow tie wearing, seemingly, kind hearted, Max, played by Emmy winner Edward Hermann (The Practice). He is the owner of the local video store, and is happy to help her find something to watch. After some small talk, it turns out all Lucy really wants is a job. He not only offers her a job at his store, but also asks her out for dinner, two propositions, that please Lucy to no end.
The next evening, while looking into getting his ear pierced, Michael’s dream girl talks to him, letting him know that the guy doing the piercing is charging rip-off prices. If he wants his ear pierced, she is willing to do it for him. Virtually seconds before she takes off with Michael on his motorcycle, the gang who caused trouble the previous evening at the merry-go-round, arrives on their own bikes. I don’t think it is a spoiler for anyone out there who is reading this, for me to mention, that this is no ordinary gang of deviant bikers, but instead, they are a clan of vampires. In the role of the group’s charismatic leader, David, is Golden Globe and Emmy Award winning, actor, Kiefer Sutherland. He is not alone, however. The small vampire cadre consists of three other members: Paul (Brooke McCarter); Dwayne (Billy Wirth); and Marko (Alex Winter), who people will no-doubt recognize as one half of the duo from “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” and its sequel “Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.” Much to Michael’s disappointment, Star opts to get off of his motorcycle, and hop onto the back of David’s bike.
For a guy who has the look, and gives off the vibe of a bad ass, David doesn’t get into a confrontation with Michael. Instead, he asks him, if he knows where Hudson’s Bluff is overlooking the point, to which Mike, sensing a macho showdown, admits that the bike he is riding can’t beat David’s motorcycle. Again, however, that is not what the leader of the gang is interested in. David makes it clear that he doesn’t have to beat Mike, he’s just got to keep up, which, throughout the wild ride they take, is easier said than done, and almost winds up costing Michael his life.
Michael is taken to the gang’s lair, which is the remnants of an old hotel that was buried during an earthquake. First David plays several hallucinogenic tricks on Michael, making him think that what he has offered him to eat is actually bugs, instead of Chinese food. At the conclusion of the parlor tricks, David gets down to business. He drinks from what appears to be a wine bottle, after doing so, he offers it to Michael, and asks him to drink from the bottle so he can become one of them. Star tells Michael that he doesn’t have to, because the contents of the bottle contain blood rather than wine. Michael proceeds to drink it anyway, as the gang members chant his name. Thinking he has only drank wine, in actuality, he has consumed blood, just as Star tried to warn him. By doing so, Michael has unknowingly begun his own initiation toward becoming a full fledged member of the undead. The final thing he must do before being allowed to become a vampire, is to take a life.
Later the next night, Michael begins to feel the need to feed, but food is not what he needs. Trying to drink milk, he spits it out, as if it has gone spoiled. Sam, meanwhile, who is taking a bath upstairs, almost becomes his first victim. Michael’s need for human blood is driving him toward doing the unthinkable. Fortunately for Sam, Nanook, senses that Michael is up to no good, and proceeds to attack him. In the process, he takes a nice size chunk out of Michael’s hand, which is soon spotted by Sam, who is completely bewildered by the situation. He wants to know why his dog would attack Michael? And seeing the blood, Sam is extra upset, because he thinks Michael just attacked Nanook, only to learn from Michael’s own admission, that the dog was protecting Sam from him.
Seconds later, Sam looks into the mirror, and sees that Michael’s reflection, while it can still be viewed, is very faded. It doesn’t take him long to put two and two together. He realizes, that Michael has been turned into a vampire. He places a call to the Frog Brothers, who claim to be experts on the creatures, and after they ask Sam a series of questions about Michael, tell Sam that he must kill his brother. That, however, is something, that Sam simply cannot do. The viewer will come to learn, that the only way Michael can return to a normal life, is if the head vampire, who created the clan, is killed.
Trivia buffs take note: During filming, Kiefer Sutherland broke his arm while riding a motorcycle, so that is the reason he wears black gloves throughout the entire movie; it was the only way he could hide his cast. “The Lost Boys” marked the first of many times that Corey Feldman and Corey Haim, would appear in movies together. Emmy Award winner John Carradine (Stagecoach) and Emmy nominee Keenan Wynn (Once Upon a Time in the West) were both considered for the role of the grandfather before it was eventually given to Hughes. Carradine had to pass on the part because he was too ill at the time, and Wynn, sadly, died right before production on the movie began. While the film is arguably one of Joel Schumacher’s most well known and beloved, he was originally never intended to direct the film. Richard Donner (Superman II), who wound up becoming an executive producer on the film, was originally planning to direct the movie, but due to scheduling conflicts and contractual obligations, was forced to begin shooting the first of the “Lethal Weapon” films. Additionally, Schumacher wasn’t even the second choice to helm the project. Mary Lambert (Urban Legends: Bloody Mary) was brought in to direct the film, once Donner was no longer available to do so, but due to creative differences, she decided the film wasn’t for her; this opened up the door for Schumacher.
Who is the head vampire that needs to be destroyed? If he can’t be killed, will the Frog Brothers wind up killing Michael against Sam’s wishes? Will Sam, perhaps, be turned into a member of the undead? What becomes of David and the other members of the vampire clan? Are they killed, or do they wind up not only turning Michael into one of their own, but continuing on with their murderous ways? All questions and more will be answered by the film’s conclusion. Credit must be given to Schumacher, for not only directing a highly entertaining film, but for his decision to bring Jeffrey Boam on board, to give the script a major re-write. If the movie had been filmed as it was originally intended, I think it would have turned out to be a box office dud, that no one would still be talking about years later. The film features a catchy soundtrack, the cast as a whole puts its all into their roles, and credit must be given to the excellent cinematography of Academy Award nominee, Michael Chapman (The Fugitive), whose filming style, served to enhance scenes, that might have come across as just mediocre without someone of his talents.