Finding the Lost Boys

My university was in the small town of Socorro, New Mexico. We had one small theater called the Loma, which usually showed movies a few months after their release. In the autumn of 1987, I went with a group of friends to see the Joel Schumacher film, The Lost Boys, starring Kiefer Sutherland, Jason Patric, and Jami Gertz. I was deep in the throes of working on my physics degree and much more into movies about exploring the galaxy than about vampires. I remember finding the movie a fine diversion, but it didn’t make much of an impression on me. I missed the Peter Pan allusions and I was a little thrown off by the notion of young, attractive vampires. Since then, I’ve become more familiar with J.M. Barrie’s classic and we’ve had numerous examples of young, attractive vampires ranging from many of Anne Rice’s characters to characters in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I began to think this was a film I should watch again.

Because so much film viewing is migrating to streaming services, it seems a lot of stores are reducing their inventory of DVDs and Blu-rays. I managed to find a copy of The Lost Boys at my local Barnes and Noble for just $6.00. I suspect that’s less in today’s dollars than I paid for a theater ticket back in 1987. As I sat down to watch the movie with my daughter, I realized she’s almost exactly the age I was when I first saw the film. I thought it would be interesting to compare notes. Of course, she also came to the movie with a more diverse taste in film than I had at her age and there was nothing alien to her about young vampires.

All in all, I enjoyed the movie more now than I remember enjoying it back in 1987. It was funnier than I remembered, poking fun at vampire tropes while also embracing them. The movie tells the story of two brothers who move to a coastal city in Northern California with their recently divorced mom. The younger brother, Sam, meets Edgar and Alan Frog who work at a local comic book store. They give him a comic about vampires as a warning about the local menace in town.

Meanwhile, the older brother, Michael, finds himself drawn to a woman named Star. She introduces him to her friends, who at first glance appear to be a troublemaking bike gang. They invite Michael to ride with them and they lead him to the ruins of an old beachside hotel, which serves as their hangout. Strange things begin to occur and it soon becomes apparent to the audience, if not Michael, that the bike gang is, in fact, a vampire coven.

My daughter and I both found the movie funnier and less violent than we expected. I remembered more bloodshed in the movie, but I may have been conflating the movie with others of the period. The young, self-proclaimed vampire hunters, Edgar and Alan Frog were definitely the show’s highlight, but all of the cast had great moments. I also had conflated the movie with a lot of Southern California-set beach movies of the time and had forgotten how much the movie’s setting reflected Santa Cruz, where it was filmed.

I’m glad I rediscovered The Lost Boys and gave it another chance. The movie’s blend of humor, subtle literary reference, and using vampires to cast a critical eye on a time and place are all things I like doing in my own writing. Even though the movie didn’t resonate with me much a the time, I wonder how much of its approach to storytelling managed to influence me. There’s no doubt the movie influenced works that came after it and I know many of those works did influence me.

You can check out my vampire fiction at and judge for yourself!

20 comments on “Finding the Lost Boys

  1. helenaolwage says:

    If I watch a movie twice, the experience differs from the first most of the time.

  2. Love. Still stands up, mullets (which were called such back in the day, being an ape drape hockeyhead myself once) and all.

  3. Ef Deal says:

    Rates up there with Firefly for best last line of a movie: “One thing about living in Santa Carla I never could stomach… all the damn vampires.”

    • One of the odd realizations this time around… In 2014, my older daughter had narrowed her choice of universities down to two: Tulane University and UC Santa Cruz. When she picked Tulane, we celebrated by watching an iconic New Orleans movie (Interview with the Vampire starring Tom Cruise). At the time, I hadn’t really thought about how her finalist universities were both set in cities with iconic vampire films… even if Santa Cruz refused to let its name be used in the film.

  4. I definitely remember this movie from when I went to college. I don’t remember a lot of it though. You performed an interesting experiment. I am feeling tempted to do the same. Perhaps it is available on Amazon.

    • Enjoy the experiment if you give it a try! I just looked and the movie is available to stream on Amazon and discs are available there as well.

      • I decided to give it a try. I just ordered the DVD from Amazon. I’ll post a comment here after I’ve watched it. Thank you for your help David.

      • You’re most welcome!

      • So I finally did the experiment yesterday. I remember it differently. Back in 1987 I thought it was more of an action film or scary film, now I just saw mostly the humor in it, and it appeared juvenile to me. Well all the actors were young and the heroes were kids.

      • Interesting. Thanks for sharing. Sounds like your experience was similar to mine. I’d forgotten Joel Schumacher had directed it until I saw the Blu-Ray case, but I sort of expected the juvenile part once I was reminded of that, given his work on the Batman movies of the 90s. Still, I thought the juvenile aspects worked better in The Lost Boys than they did in the Batman films.

  5. I haven’t revisited this film in a long time but it was always a favourite of mine. The soundtrack is immense, and thank you for the trip down memory lane.

  6. I looked a little like Keifer at the time (I have an old photo around somewhere…) As some comedian once said, “every photo is an old photo.” Haven’t seen the movie since then, but love the soundtrack. 💀

  7. I feel like that movie influenced the gaming group I was with then, drawing in more urban fantasy elements than previously.

  8. […] Finding the Lost Boys […]

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