The Lost Boys (1987)
★★ / ★★★★
A mother (Dianne Wiest) moves from Arizona to California with her two sons, Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim), in tow. Santa Carla, located right next to the beach, is fun and summery on the outside but upon closer inspection, its bulletin boards are full of flyers which advertise missing persons. While watching a band’s performance, Michael’s eyes become transfixed on Star (Jami Gertz), a girl involved with a biker gang led by David (Kiefer Sutherland). Later, Michael is suspiciously invited by the bikers to hang out in a chamber down by the beach. The gang turns out to be a group of vampires and David wishes to turn Michael into one of them.
“The Lost Boys,” based on the screenplay by Janice Fischer, James Jeremias, and Jeffrey Boam, offers somewhat engaging sequences when vampires feel the need to terrorize the living, but a plethora of questions, most being obvious, are ignored for the majority of its running time or left unanswered altogether. The picture has elements of fantasy and so it is all the more important that certain aspects of the story remain rooted in reality.
The vampires tend to pluck their victims from above, like pterodactyls, the camera serving as the creature of the night’s point of view. Each attack is unsettling despite not having a drop of blood being spilled. The audience are not even allowed to see what happens to the bodies after they have been taken. A lot is left to our imagination. Eventually, though, the picture must focus on the new family that has moved to Santa Carla.
What makes them special enough to kill the vampires that have been making the small town miserable for years? Further, while Sam and Michael have one or two convincing and funny brotherly scenes, there is no depth in their relationship. They are supposed to be kids who are products of divorce. How does the separation change or affect them other than being concerned that Grandpa (Barnard Hughes) does not have a TV?
Soon enough, Sam meets the Frog brothers, Edgar (Corey Feldman) and Alan (Jamison Newlander), at a comic book store. They seem to know an awful lot about vampires. Why had they not attempted to get rid of the town’s evil before? Are they simply waiting for a third member because the number three feels right?
Eventually, someone close to Sam is sired. While certain rules are established involving being a so-called half-vampire versus a “full” vampire, what are the adverse effects of half-vampires not feeding? And why is being a “full” vampire so important? From my observations, it is better to remain a half-vampire. For example, while both seem to be equally powerful, being a full vampire means not being able to walk in the sun. Seemingly simple details as such need to be sorted out in order to really get us to buy into its universe. Rules are equally important as exceptions. There are instances when exceptions tend to present far more interesting scenarios.
The final showdown is frustrating, convenient, predictable, and at times nonsensical. A character knowing when exactly to drive a vehicle into the house when he had been outside hours before the confrontation takes discerning viewers out of the picture. Moreover, when a vampire is killed, blood comes out of sinks and toilets for no reason. What does that have to do with anything? It is overkill. Is it not enough for us to see vampires dissolve into primordial goop? When the special effects run rampant, something that is supposed to be scary just comes across as silly (though not necessarily funny).
Directed by Joel Schumacher, “The Lost Boys” has a lot of ideas but it does not mean fitting them all in one film is right. If it had been more selective of ideas that worked, it may have turned out to be more than a product of ‘80s nostalgia.