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 http://www.davidleesummers.com/books.html#scarlet_order and judge for yourself!