REVISITING: THE LOST BOYS

The Lost BoysOne of my favorite things to do is revisit a movie I loved when I was a kid, but have not seen in a very long time. There are only so many to choose from, because many of the films I adored as a youth I have continued to overkill with repeat viewings even as an adult. But there are some movies that just kind of fall away from you for a while, sometimes without a good reason, and then when you’re reunited it's more than a flashback — it's like catching up with an old friend too.

The Lost Boys is just such a flick, and it made me create a new segment and category for the tavern.

I call it:
Please, Rewind: Revisiting the Saturday Night Frights of my Youth.

When I was eleven or so, this movie was one of my favorites. Not only did it hypnotize me with the sexy lure of my forthcoming teenage years, but it also helped develop my taste buds for the horror genre, inching me toward that dark spiral with this cool-as-ice, brat-pack-loaded blockbuster that still managed to be a pretty badass horror movie in its own right. Even the poster was like a lure for this little metalhead. It could have passed as a Guns N’ Roses fold out poster from RIP magazine. This movie rocked the 80’s. However, as vampires get beaten more and more into the ground over the years, I kind of retreated from this subgenre of horror. Especially as the dopey goth kids began to claim it as their own, and took all the scariness out of vampires with live action role playing games and comic book romances. As far as I was concerned, poor ol’ vampires had been pussified long before Twilight came sparkling along… and if six seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer wasn’t enough to pulverize the dead horse of vampires, then surely Anne Rice’s and Poppy Z. Brite’s homoerotic, bloodsucking, soft-core porn novels surely were.  On top of this, The Lost Boys is also a Corey movie, a label which just had 80’s-teeny-bopper-chick slathered all over it. As a growing teenage boy out to prove his bravado, I simply couldn’t let myself enjoy a Corey movie.

But as long as we’re talking about homoeroticism in vampire movies, holy water does The Lost Boys have some gay innuendo. In fact, for the rest of the reviews, I’m just going to point out the gay innuendo with a simple notation: G.I. alert. But please don’t get me wrong: my pointing out of the movie’s gay innuendo is not a condemnation of the movie, but rather just another way of celebrating this fine film. It is also not a condemnation of homosexuality either. I’m not ignorant enough to hate gays, and I have far too much fondness for bad movies to have not made a lot of gay friends. My gay friends are the ones who are always up for a god-awful, skull-shattering turd of a movie, whereas a lot of my straight friends just don’t get the joy of it.

The Lost Boys is not a bad movie at all. In fact, it was even better than I remembered. I had not seen it in at least fifteen years when recently my buddy Gregg gave me a copy. He’d just bought someone’s pile of horror DVDs on Ebay and so, for my birthday, he gave me all the ones he already owned. Except for Texas Chain Saw Massacre: The Next Generation. We threw that one in the garbage where all Matthew McConaughey movies belong. True story.

So, a day or so later I decided to revisit The Lost Boys. I found it to be a lot like listening to Huey Lewis and The News. I loved it as a kid, then thought it was lame when I was a young man, and now I have come back to it as an adult to realize I was right the first fuckin’ time. This movie is 80’s horror gold and Huey Lewis and The News is just freakin’ awesome.

So while I normally focus on less known, underground or otherwise nebulous horror films and try to unleash them upon my dear followers, today’s review is instead focused upon a very large and very well known movie. If you’re into horror enough to be in this bar, then you’ve seen this movie. It is my hope that you’ll enjoy this nostalgic review and that perhaps you’ll realize it is high time for you to revisit the blood-soaked, foggy little town of Santa Carlos too. Even if it is gay.

THE LOST BOYS (1987)

The movies opens with the very effective flying vampire P.O.V. shots that give the movie its own unique atmosphere. We enter a carnival where a cabal of metalhead hunks, lead by David (a young Kiefer Sutherland), are punked by a chubby security guard. The movie then offers every teen his dream by showing the teens get supernatural revenge on said security guard. Who among us didn’t long to put a mall cop in their place as a teen, right?

Anyway, we then meet the central characters, brothers Michael and Sam (Jason Patrick and Corey Haim) as they and their cool, single-mother Lucy (Dianne Wiest) come to town to live with Lucy’s father, a kooky taxidermist known only as Gramps (Barnard Hughes, who I’ll always think of as the catholic priest in All of the Family). They arrive just in time for a big concert down on the boardwalk where an oily bodybuilder in chains pelvic thrusts his saxophone (G.I. alert). Sam, being the gayest character of the movie, is really into this but his older brother Michael is too entranced by a pretty hippie named Star. Sam tries to get Michael to pay closer attention to the oily bodybuilder (G.I. alert) but Michael follows after Star, leading him to meet David and his posse of vampires. Sam goes comic book shopping, leading him to meet the Frogg brothers, one of them being Corey Feldman.

The Coreys

 The Froggs are young vampire hunters, David and his gang are vampires. So, the core plot is this: one brother gets to be seduced by the undead while the other has to try and save him. Sam wants to help the Frogg brothers rid the town of the undead, but he doesn’t want his brother  to get hurt. Michael is slowly transforming and he wants to save Star and a little boy vampire before they all change fully (although why teenage vampires would want a kid around is beyond me). This really pisses David off, and a showdown ensues. Not just any showdown though: a vamp on vamp showdown. This is a scene that has been ripped off and repeated a million times over in nearly every vampire movie made since The Lost Boys, but when they did it was fresh, original ,and beyond cool. To make it all the more enjoyable, the film even offers a twist ending.

Shumacher is known for his terrible, terrible, terrible movies. He brought us Batman and Robin (may we never forget or forgive). He also gave us such cinematic putrescence as 8mm, Batman Forever and Dying Young. But he did give us a solid horror flick with The Lost Boys, and his rage-gasm Falling Down is a true 90’s tension classic.

The film is over-the-top 80’s with a slow motion dissolve/music video sex scene, a lot of soundtrack pimping, and Alex Winter (Bill of Bill & Ted) sporting an immaculate mullet. The film also supplies copious amounts of 80’s gore, with a campfire slaughter scene that includes throat rips and scalpings and the movie’s final showdown battle that literally explodes with blood. Remember that bathroom, anyone?

The cabal of vampires are hilariously bad boyish, but I appreciate that even though they are young and hunky they are still scary and ugly when it gets down to some vamp time. These vampires are mean as shit and they don’t sparkle even a little. They have yellow eyes, fangs, and clawed feet. They sleep upside down in a cave just like real bats. I dig that, big time. The Lost Boys makes no effort the airbrush the evil of vampires. Instead, it revels in it.

The movie also takes a comedic approach at times, mostly thanks to the Coreys who are both really good in this. Despite the person problems that Haim encountered later in his sadly short life, you can see here how he once stole America’s heart. He also gets the best line: “My own brother, a goddamned shit-sucking vampire! You just wait till Mom finds out, buddy!”

But as long as we’re focused on Sam, let’s run through the real top ten G.I. alerts of the movie and then we shall explore my own theory about the film’s gay allegory.

  1. The bodybuilder with the sax singing “I Still Believe."  Believe in what? Body oil?
  2. When Michael first wants to fight David, David says “how far are you willing to go Michael?” Soon he’s tricking him into drinking his bodily fluids.
  3. The gang only has one girl. That’s a called a fag-hag.
  4. Their layer has a poster of a shirtless, androgynous Jim Morrison.
  5. Sam has a shirtless Rob Lowe poster in his room.
  6. Sam has a shirt that reads “Born to Shop” and the rest of his outfits would make John Waters blush.
  7. David eats Chinese food with chopsticks. No straight American man does that.
  8. Sam asks Michael if he’s been watching too much Dynasty. He is also terrified that they might have to go without MTV.
  9. Sam, a teenage boy, takes a bubble bath and sings about how he ain’t got a man.
  10. It was directed by Joel Shumacher, the guy who put nipples on Batman.

The gay allegory here can be seen this way. Michael, new in town, is being seduced by the gays in his area. They are trying to get him to be “one of them” and use their one female gang member as bait. The Frogg brothers could represent the hardcore Christian rednecks that want to persecute and even kill homosexuals. They hand out pamphlets warning young men about them. They even dress like rednecks in all that camo and ask Sam to pray. SPOILER ALERT: let’s not forget about Max, who turns out to be the head vampire. He is an older man who has turned all these young men into vampires (unless they were all supposed to be his birth sons —  the movie isn’t clear on that, but I doubt it). So he is kind of a creepy old queen.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Tongue-in-cheek gay allegory and alerts aside, this is a great vampire movie that succeeds in every possible way, delivering more gore than its teen-vamp-movie predecessors and a much better story too. It has a steady pace, lots of action and some comedy, and it is well acted and directed.

Haim dealt mostly with werewolves (Silver Bullet and sort of Watchers), so he needed a little help here from Feldman, who once took down Jason Voorhees. The Corey-movie stain, therefore, has been lifted by cult horror clout.

In addition, The Lost Boys is a good movie for teens to watch because it points out the dangers of peer pressure. Michael goes against his better judgment just to fit in and ends up as a marauding ghoul. How’s that for an after school special?

My stroll down this memory lane was a damned good one. Nothing makes me smile with nostalgia for my teenage years like seeing dudes actually head-banging. Ah, memories. I also forgot how much I loved this soundtrack as a kid. I’ll have to unearth it from its little coffin.

  • RATING: A very well deserved 5 out of 5.
  • CHICK OF THE LITTER: Yeah, yeah. You’re all going to say Star. Unfortunately, her acting is so wretched it is distracting. And she’s not actually that hot, so she can go suck a neck. I always liked Dianne Wiest. She is great in this as the “cool Mom” who isn’t exactly as cool as she wants to be. Always adorable, she just glows off of the screen. Her character also proves pivotal, as does her budding relationship with Max. If it weren’t for his desire to make her his vampire bride, the whole movie wouldn’t have happened.

BARTENDER'S NOTES

Pinot EvilSeeing how wine plays such a big role in this movie, I think it is in order. A red wine of course. May I suggest one of my favorite pinot noirs,  Pinot Evil?

Just like the movie, you can buy it for less than $10, it's fruity, and if you don't at least like it a little bit then you probably just don't appreciate the genre. Oh, and it has three monkeys on the front who "see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil." How fitting.

Don't forget the well-aged cheese, 'cause we all know that rice will just end up being maggots.

468 ad

4 Comments

  1. HEY MAN!, I EAT SHREDDED ROB LOWE POSTERS WITH CHOPSTICKS in a room with Joel Shumacher in a “born to shop with John Waters” t-shirt and I love this movie too!!!! wait does this make me gay?

  2. I as well revisited this film recently and couldn’t agree with your review more. For example, the scene where Michael jumps off the bridge because his new friends are doing it proves teenagers should listen to their mothers. I would also like to add to your homoerotic theory by stating a few things that I have noticed.
    1. Along with Dynasty, Sam, also references The Flying Nun.
    2. What straight man decides that the first thing he wants to do is get his ear pierced after
    moving to a new town?
    3. All the boy vampires sleep together and the girl sleeps in a separate room.
    4. Only gay men get all hot and bothered watching other dudes dance around a camp fire.

  3. Haha! Excellent observations, Creston, especially number 3! I can’t believe I didn’t make that connection, its hilarious and true!

  4. This movie is great, and your review is SPOT ON! However, I do have ONE issue: Buffy (TV, not that horrible movie that has nothing to do with the series) did NOT pussify vampires. Anne Rice and Twilight did that on their own. Buffy featured hot chicks killing vampires (and other demons). It’s like modern Hammer films, toned down for TV (ok, maybe I’m exaggerating there). Needless to say, since I was a kid I’ve ALWAYS loved vampire flicks (the ORIGINAL Dracula, the 70s remake with Langella, Gary Oldman’s portrayal, Salem’s Lot, THE MONSTER SQUAD, Once Bitten, Love At First Bite, et al), so Buffy was a natural progression. But that Anne Rice and Twilight bullshit… Not to mention the Underworld series… Completely massacred what was once a wonderful (albeit homoerotic) genre.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Gettin’ Gory with Corey « Tavern of TERROR - [...] Rewind: Reliving the Saturday Night Fright of My Youth.  Our previous review in this category, The Lost Boys,  proved …
  2. HORROR ROCKS: The Greatest Horror Movie Tie-In Songs (Part Three: The Final Chapter) « Tavern of TERROR - [...] be more 80’s, and no one can even name another Loug Gramm song, but this dark pop ballad from …

What do you think?