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Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of The Lost Boys (1987); And How it Saved Me from Humdrum Films Like The Beguiled (2017) and Baby Driver (2017)

July 7, 2017

When you’re uninspired by the films that have currently been in circuit at theaters, you start to wonder if you’ve lost your taste for a good film or if everyone else is just smacking up stale mush due to starvation. When the last batch of movies you see in the theaters leave you cold with a lack of desire to even write about them, you start to worry if the major transitions happening in your life is killing your inspiration. Is writer’s block now just a periodic part of life? These are the existential thoughts I’ve undergone after watching Sophia Coppola’s The Beguiled, Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver and Trey Edward Schultz’s It Comes at Night; films that have all been critically lauded. I began to doubt myself as a critic and writer. But then, a ray of sunshine in the gloom happened. A burst of inspiration and excitement from monotony: I re-watched Joel Schumacher’s The Lost Boys.

Last week I went out with much gusto to see the long-awaited Baby Driver. That night I came and wrote a pretty shitty review of it just to get my thoughts out. I honestly didn’t even want to revisit the review to edit it because I was completely underwhelmed with the product I had watched. Forcing 700 or so words about it just felt grueling. The same thing happened last night after seeing The Beguiled. I was close to panicking at my lack of desire to put forth the effort to write about these films, although I’ve talked about them at length with family, friends and coworkers. And the only reason I wrote about It Comes at Night was because in the moment I was furious at what I had watched. It was during The Beguiled that I legitimately questioned the lull I was enduring, and wondered what was the last great film I had seen in theaters. I realized it was Get Out nearly 4 months ago further disappointing me that everything I had been throwing money at since had either been forgettable tripe or subpar popcorn munchers. But then the spark retuned to me when I thought about the last great movie I saw outside of the theater and yes it was The Lost Boys!

Currently my movie watching has consisted of a series of exceptional films from the 1930s and 40s but it took one extraordinarily silly film rooted in nostalgia to bring my creativity back to life. I could have written a half-assed uninspired piece on why Baby Driver’s stylish, chik tale of a heist gone wrong left me bored and underwhelmed due to the lack of umph that’s usually present in Wright’s quirky style and humor; or how the story seemed to drag on and the action sequences, though cool, just felt like cuts from an extended trailer. And I could’ve labored over a piece about how disappointing Coppola continues to be as a screenwriter by creating a faux feminist story set in the antebellum with no hint of feminism, diversity or fully formed perspective. But nah, I’d rather not. I’d rather talk about how The Lost Boys holds up as one of the greatest films of its time and one of the best vampire films of all time.

It’s a silly argument to make but I stand by it. It’s sleek, sexy, funny and it’s a perfect time capsule to everything hip and trendy of its time. It’s easy to laugh at the greased-up abs of that sax player during the carnival scene, or even roll your eyes at the overly theatrical framing of scenes especially in the vampire’s den. And you should laugh as well as roll your eyes because they are cheesy. It is a product of Schumacher and director of photography Michael Chapman’s visual eye. But just because we can admit that not all of these elements hold up anymore doesn’t mean that it’s not a fantastically chilling film. If you really watch The Lost Boys within the context of its time, it proves to be an engaging, creepy thriller about teenage angst and rebellion.

The Lost Boys is literally my life. It’s one of the few films that I have grown up with. It came out just a few months before I was born and for as long as I can remember I’ve watched more times that probably any other film thanks to the constant cable reruns throughout my early years. I hadn’t seen it in over a decade until a friend of mine texted me that she was watching it for the first time a few weeks ago. That’s when all the memories came rushing back to my brain and I developed the insatiable need to see it again. Was I misremembering its greatness? Would it be like revisiting  D2: The Mighty Ducks, a film that I adored in childhood but found godawful when I saw it again a few years ago? But then the stars aligned. I was reunited with a friend who immediately asked did I want to watch it when I brought it up.

If you’ve never seen The Lost Boys before and decide to watch it now, I can’t speak to what your experience will be, especially if the culture of the 1980s escapes you. For all of you who have ties to this film, who appreciate the 1980s for what they were, those of you who enjoy a great horror/comedy, it behooves you to rewatch this gem about a group of teens from broken homes who wreck havoc in a small town. What makes these “lost boys” and girl different from the likes of James Dean’s Jim Stark and his crew in Rebel Without a Cause is that these juvenile delinquents are blood thirsty vampires forced into the outskirts of society because someone has made them that way.

Michael (Jason Patric) and his younger brother Sam (Cory Haim) are pratically predisposed to fall into this world of delinquency when their mother moves them to the “murder capital of the world” Santa Clara, California after her divorce. Although they are staying with her father, Lucy (Dianne Wiest) is forced to work leaving her children alone for most of the day and night after a prospective suitor shows an interest in her. Her children become latchkey kids like many children prior to 1995. This puts them–Michael primarily– in direct contact with the local bad boys who draw him into their underworld of debauchery and recklessness, leading to a rift between him and his family and his own loss of identity. It’s up to Sam and his vampire hunting friends Edgar (Corey Feldman) and Allan to save Michael from himself and the pull of the vampire world.

The Lost Boys is a much more mature film that I remembered and Joel Schumacher, who I’ve associated with trash for years, proves that he was a more than capable director and storyteller once upon a time. Along with Chapman in tow, the two create a colorful world of temptation and seduction made even more satiating thanks to the talented crew involved with making the film. The script is witty and intelligent, the set and art design are tastefully zany, the costumes are sooooo 80s without being fully gross and embarrassing, the soundtrack is killer and everyone pulls their weight in developing their characters and carrying them into their arcs.

I was in a state of pure bliss watching The Lost Boys and was reminded that sometimes a good movie doesn’t have to do anything else but be what it is, and a great movie is one that can be even more than it thinks it is. Maybe I needed The Lost Boys because of this topsy-turvy alternative future we are living in, one where the hippies who gave birth to Star and Michael gave up during the 70s and 80s and let capitalism win. Maybe I needed to revisit a film that for an hour and a half took me away from the fight against tyranny and ignorance. Regardless, The Lost Boys revealed all the missing elements of the movies that I’ve been watching in theaters and why they’ve left me uninspired and detached. Sometimes it takes a silly vampire film from the 80s to do that. Thank you The Lost Boys and happy 30th anniversary!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. July 12, 2017 11:06 AM

    I share all the sentiments and nostalgia you do with The Lost Boys. It’s such a cult classic and deservingly so! It’s pure 80s goodness and such a reminder of my childhood!

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