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Film Review / The Lost Boys (1987)

"How far you willing to go Michael?"

I would say there are so few films that really stick with you from the 80s, but that would be a lie. There are certainly so few vampire films that do, and The Lost Boys is likely one of, if not the, best known of them all. Rightly so. It's bloody awesome.

So, something's up with Santa Carla...

To the awesome tune People are Strange by Echo and the Bunnymen, Sam and Michael move with their mum, Lucy to that little beach town. After dropping off their stuff with Grandpa, we're thrown right into the action as the small family visits the pier, where Michael sees the beautiful Star and crosses paths with the strange biker gang that haunts the night, led by smooth and mysterious David. Michael eventually goes off with the gang to their underground hotel lair, sunk by an earthquake, where they royally fuck with him, and he is offered a drink of special "wine". Unfortunately, like most horny teens, Michael can't be outdone by cock-measuring, and so takes a nice deep swig of David's blood...I mean wine.

Meanwhile, Sam heads into the local comic store to geek it out with Edgar and Alan Frog. Problem is these strange and very serious boys might be crazy, as they try and force upon him some trashy vampire horror comics for "survival". He's not interested. More fool him.

And not to be left behind, their mum heads off into the local video store, where she meets Max (Ed Herrmann), and they hit it off. He's a nice bachelor-guy, polite and not too happy about the riff-raff biker gang mussing up his boardwalk.

But, when Michael starts to feel a bit off, which eventually leads to him floating outside Sam's window, his little brother decides there's only one way to find out what's wrong with him: the Frog brothers. So, yeah, they decide he's a vampire and he needs to die!! But, no, Sam can't kill his own brother, so the only way to save him is to kill the head vampire. So, yeah, c'mere Kiefer...!

The Lost Boys isn't just great for being funny and well written, with a great cast and a really nice twist, it also offers essentially a four-generation experience of upheaval in a family...with vampires.

Sam's the youngest, mid-teens, into comics and using shampoo to make funny hairstyles in the bath (and if anyone who ever watched this film pretends they never did that is lying), is allegedly irrational and wears hilarious 80s teen clothes with massive collars. His journey is being essentially bottom of the integrity pile: too young to be taken seriously, even when he's actually right, but also young enough to take action older people might not feel is appropriate. The scenes with Sam are written in a little bit more of a slapstick way, riling up the horror and hilarity of the unbelievable happenings.

Michael, the eldest, turning into a man, cooler and more serious than his brother is in the melodrama stage, where everything is life or death (and so conveniently, everything is actually life or death in this flick), grand romance or great heartache. He's willing to sacrifice even his own better judgement to prove himself to the girl. His scenes are filmed dark and intense, lots of brooding and suspense and moody songs.

But that's not all, their mum, Lucy, is quite interested in this video store manager, and so they decide to make a go of it. Their scenes are sweet and mature, straightforward and in general responsible. Lucy is very trusting and wants to see the best in people, and holds out hope that she might get a little happiness in the move. Max is very patient of her kids clear distrust of him, but doesn't get cowed or run away at their behaviour, just disappointed.

The final generation is Grandpa, having lived all his life in Santa Carla, and now alone, has his own distractions to keep himself busy. He'll be found plunging stakes in the ground, avoiding going into town, and doing a lot of taxidermy. He lets Lucy and the kids get on with things, until the very end when he drives his truck into the house because of the only reason he hates Santa Carla.

All the damn vampires.

To me, this cult classic never gets old. Just as it gets too melodramatic we get a welcome comic relief. Just as it gets too silly, we get a sweet grown-up moment. Just as it gets too sweet... Well... hounds from hell. You know the drill.

There's probably not another film from my childhood (yeah this is a grown-up flick but 80s kids were hardcore) that has such a great transition as one ages. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has it too. Those moments you begin to appreciate differently as you age, seeing moments in the film from the perspective of a young teen to a grown man or woman and getting the jokes and nuances in a very different way.

Always recommended, and gosh darnit that soundtrack man. And now I want to watch it again.


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