The Fake Teenager Festivus: The Lost Boys (1987)

This post is part of The Fake Teenager Festivus blogathon, hosted by Taking Up Room. Read the rest of the posts in this event HERE!

When the movie The Lost Boys was first released, it was a genuine pop culture phenomenon.

One that I completely ignored at the time.

Not generally a fan of teen movies or vampire movies, it just didn’t seem like my personal cup of tea. As a late wave Baby Boomer, I was also kind of annoyed by the Brat Pack taking over Hollywood.

Dumb reasons, I know.

When the neo-noir film After Dark, My Sweet was released it bombed big-time, but critics Siskel and Ebert adored it. I swear it seemed like every week for a while on their show they were telling people they should see it.

I love neo-noir, so I saw it. And loved it. (I did a mini review of it HERE.)

Can you blame me? Amirite, ladies?

One of the side effects of seeing it is I developed a super-big crush on actor Jason Patric, the star of the movie.

Which lead me to seeking out all his previous films. Including The Lost Boys.

Now The Lost Boys is one of my favorite films of all time, and not just because I find Jason Patric so darn cute.

The film opens with recently divorced mom Lucy Emmerson (Diane Wiest) driving her two teenaged sons Michael (Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim) to live with her eccentric father (Barnard Hughes) in a small California beach town called Santa Clara.

On the boardwalk one night Michael sees a girl named Star (Jami Gertz) but she seems to be the girlfriend of the leader of a teen motorcycle gang named David (Keifer Sutherland). Challenged to a race by David, Michael almost ends up riding off a cliff. The gang laugh and insist he hang out with them. After haranguing him like teens often do, they offer him a drink from a bottle of wine. Star warns Michael not to drink it. He does anyway and soon finds himself hanging off a railway bridge with the rest of the gang. Horrified, he watches the rest of the gang let go and fall into the mist below. The gang insists he do the same, telling him he is now one of them. He finally lets go and wakes up in his own bed.

Sam meets the Frog brothers (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander) at a comic book store who insist he read a horror comic about vampires. Sam reluctantly takes it. He notices Michael is acting stranger and stranger, until he attacks Sam and ends up floating out the window. They realize he is turning into a vampire. With the Frog brothers, they try to figure out a way to release Michael from the curse and decide David is the head vampire and must be destroyed.

There are two main things about The Lost Boy that elevate it from the average teen/vampire flick. First, is the way vampirism is used as a metaphor for adolescence. Michael’s initiation into the gang is not that different from a hazing that a high school or college student might go through. When Michael realizes Star was used as bait and confronts her, she tells him she is an unwilling participant and wants to be free as much as he does.

Like in many teen movies of the 80s, they end up having sex, but this is a part of Michael’s initiation into adulthood, as he finds himself feeling responsible for both Star and the little boy in the gang she is caring for, Laddie (Chase Michael Corbitt).

The other theme is something that was not that prevalent at the time—the notion of found family. The vampire gang is a found family, but it’s a grotesque variation on the theme. Max (Edward Herrmann), Lucy’s boss who has been courting her, is the head of the vampire gang, not David. Michael was his way of getting her to agree to join so they can become more like a traditional nuclear family.

While Lucy, Michael, and Sam reject Max’s notion of found family, they possibly end up forming one of their own with Starr and Laddie and the Frog brothers, whose parents seem to spend most of their time in the store stoned.

Which leads to a third theme, the way Baby Boomers basically left their Gen-X children to their own devices too often during their hippie years, then wanted to revert to more traditional roles as they grew older and more conservative. (Michael jokes at one point that he was almost named Moonchild or Moonbeam when his parents were hippies.)

Yeah, this movie is super-fun, with some great action and humor (at one point it dings Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot) but there’s a lot more going on under the surface. It’s a very good photograph of the moment in time it was made, and not just because of the soundtrack and big hair rocker vibe of the teen vampire gang.

Of course, the actors playing the teens were all much older than their characters, except maybe Chase Michael Corbitt. The two Coreys and Jason Newlander were the age of the older teen characters, the rest were in their early to mid 20s.

Who cares, it’s a whole lot of handsome in one place. Even in the vampire makeup. Which is yet another reason the movie was so popular, but I’m glad that’s what made me finally seek out this remarkable film.


10 thoughts on “The Fake Teenager Festivus: The Lost Boys (1987)

  1. Very good summary of how The Lost Boys touches on some major, serious themes. This is one of my favorites too, because it finds just the right balance of intensity, frightfulness and humor in highlighting the foibles in all of us. Plus it’s got one of the great comic-action duos of all time, the Frog bros!

  2. I love your phrase “a whole lot of handsome in one place”.

    I’d never heard of this film before, so I was glad to catch up with it via your fab review. Looks like an amazing cast here!

  3. Excellent review!
    You make me want to watch The Lost boys again because I must confess that I’ve only seen it once back in the day, probably on HBO. I remember not loving it, but also not hating it. So now I’m curious what I’ll think of it as an adult.

  4. Very interesting–I’m another Gen-Xer who’s heard of this film but never saw it, and it looks very cool. Like a roll call of great 80s actors, including the Coreys. Thanks again for joining the blogathon with this great review–it’s nice to have you, as always! 🙂

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