The Lost Boys is an unbelievably bad teen vampire ‘comedy’ released in 1987. Originally conceived as a children’s film in the spirit of The Goonies, director Joel Schumacher chose to make it “sexier” by making the characters older and utilizing a glam metal aesthetic for the vampires. This age-shifting explains the film’s weirdly discordant tone: the characters are generally written as if they were several years younger than they appear. The character Sam, for example, is played by an actor in his mid-teens, but sleeps in his mum’s bed, splashes around like a toddler in the bathtub, and has posters of provocatively-posed young men festooned across his bedroom wall, in a way no post-pubertal male would consider appropriate. Meanwhile, the abominable ‘Frog brothers’ are young children played by older teenagers who inexplicably run a comic book store, dress up like Delta Squad, and constantly put over their ability as vampire hunters; but who then spend the second half of the film screaming in terror whenever they see a vampire. This would be fine if the kids were, you know, actual kids, but not when they’re played by older teenagers. It doesn’t help that the actors playing these brats are possibly the most unlikeable child actors I’ve ever seen. Even worse than Edward Furlong.
The plot sees a newly divorced mum take her two sons with her as she moves to live with her father in Santa Clara. The grandfather is another abysmal character, a delusional, cantankerous old hippie who greets his new guests by pretending to be dead. Indeed, the town is almost entirely populated by assorted freaks, hippies, bums, and other drop-outs. We see them all gathered together in one particularly distressing scene, a concert on the beach led by a muscular, oiled, half-naked, ponytailed singer, purveying the lamest, most cheesy sub-Midnight Oil 80s rock I’ve heard since I tried to watch Miami Connection. When people talk about how great 80s music was, they’re forgetting about crap like this.
The older son, protagonist Michael, soon comes across a gang of glam metal biker vampires led by Kiefer Sutherland. Despite the Dawson Casting which sees actors in their 20s pretending to be teenagers, the gang doesn’t exhude much menace, seeming more like a crew of rent boys than anything else. Michael is drawn towards the group by a sultry lass, imaginatively named ‘Star’, and before you can say ‘Anne Rice’, he’s been inducted into their mysterious rites.
The Lost Boys is an inexplicably well-regarded vampire film. The only thing about it which isn’t terrible is the performance by Sutherland, but even he was miscast here. I’m aware that the film is considered to have ‘camp appeal’, but it doesnt even fall into the category of ‘so bad it’s good’. It’s just plain bad. It’s too easy to pander to a film like this by discussing possible symbolism about childhood, counterculture, homosexuality, and so on. If a film is as fundamentally flawed in its script, characterization, and drama, as The Lost Boys, there’s a kind of unseriousness or dishonesty in discussing more high-flown topics. This simply sucks.