The movie this week is one I haven’t seen since I was an early teen-ager, and it’s one I’ve been wanting to re-watch it for some time to see how it holds up. And I think it held up pretty well! Even today, it still comes across as stylish and briskly-paced.
It follows Michael (about 17) and Sam (about 13), who are traveling with their recently-divorced mother, Lucy, to their new home in Santa Carla, California (a fairly obvious stand-in for Santa Cruz). They’ll be staying with their grandfather, a free-spirited old coot, in his large, shambolic beach house. Their very first night in town, they go to the boardwalk for some fun, where Michael meets an attractive but mysterious girl named Star at a beach concert. When he asks her to join him in getting something to eat, she agrees, but a tough gang of leather-clad motorcyclists calls her away, and she leaves Michael to ride away with them. Meanwhile, Sam has found a comic book store, where two of the teen-aged staffers give him a comic about vampires, telling him to read it as it could save his life.
On the following night, Michael sees Star again, only for the gang members to show up. Their leader, David, challenges Michael to keep up with them on his own motorcycle. They go on a crazy ride across the boardwalk, beach, through a forest, and finally to the gang’s hideout in an abandoned old hotel that has almost fallen into the ocean. At their hideout, they eat Chinese takeout for dinner, and the gang members are able to trick Michael’s perception, making him think that some rice he’s eating is really maggots, and some noodles are really worms. Then they offer him some wine from a strange bottle. He accepts their offer and drinks some. If you guess that it wasn’t really wine, and that Michael may have made a mistake in drinking it, you are on the right track!
It isn’t long until Michael discovers signs that he is turning into a vampire, such as a sensitivity to sunlight that has him sleeping all day and wearing sunglasses around the house, and the family dog growling when he comes near. The signs don’t go unnoticed by Sam’s new friends from the comic store, who fancy themselves vampire hunters, and realize that it’s only a matter of time until the vampire gang turns Michael fully into one of the undead. I think it’s enough say the plan they hatch to prevent this doesn’t end up going very well…
The Lost Boys (1987)
Story/Plot/Characters— So, I think this movie got all the main things right, and was pretty satisfying to watch overall. The pacing was fast, the plot was tight, and the characters work well. That having been said, there are some weaknesses. For one thing, the movie can’t seem to decide if Sam is a teen-ager or a little kid. In one scene, he’s even taking a bath with toys and singing along to the radio (at age 13!?). I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he’d originally been written as a younger character but that it was changed at the last minute, perhaps to allow the casting of then-teen heartthrob Corey Haim in the role. As far as the acting, Kiefer Sutherland as the leader of the vampire gang and Dianne Wiest as the mother are spot-on. Corey Haim is okay, but Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander as Sam’s vampire hunting friends are pretty much B-level. Mostly a good effort. (2.5 points)
Special Effects–I’m guessing this movie had a modest but adequate special effects budget. Nothing real impressive, but what it has it uses effectively, without being over-ambitious. A late scene when one of the vampires dies in a bathtub of holy water gets extra points for creativity. (1 point)
Scariness— Some creepy moments and a bit of PG-13 gore at just the right time. (1 point)
Atmosphere/Freakiness— Grandpa’s sprawling beach house (extra spooky at night) and the vampire gang’s abandoned hotel are nicely atmospheric. A well-chosen soundtrack helps with the mood as well, with the theme song and a version of “People are Strange” by Echo & the Bunnymen as highlights. (1.5 points)
Total=6.0 points (Pretty Good)
Overall, a fun and satisfying horror flick.
I love this movie. Its a great depiction of the family struggle and the choice between the ones that love us and the ones that want to lead us down a dark path.
Thank you nscovell! I didn’t get much into the family dynamics in my brief discussion, but you’re right–the relationship between Lucy, her teens, and Grandpa feel genuine, particularly the alternating exasperation and warmth in the brotherly bond between Michael and Sam.
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