a critiQal film review The Lost Boys (1987)

Plot: Sam (Haim) and his older brother Michael (Patric) are all-American teens with all-American interests. But after they move with their mother (Wiest) to peaceful Santa Clara, CA, things mysteriously begin to change. Michael's not himself lately. And Mom's not going to like what he's turning into.

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A couple of weeks ago, I asked a friend if she wanted to see Lost Boys: The Tribe. When she confessed she had never seen the original film, I immediately started searching for the 2-disc special edition version of the film. When it turned out that no one was selling that for less than $20, I went for the next best thing – I rented The Lost Boys from Blockbuster®.

Remembering the classic 80’s movie from my youth, I couldn’t wait to expose Heather to the film. But, would The Lost Boys – like other 80’s classic Heathers (1989) – have lost something in the 22 years since it’s release, or would it still be as exciting today as it was in my youth?

Part of the fun of looking back on films like The Lost Boys is seeing how much the actors have changed since the movie was released. Back then, Kiefer Sutherland was still in his prime, and would probably have scoffed at plans of a comeback on television years down the road; Jason Patric was still in the early stages of his career, and the bomb Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997) that would eventually ruin him was far away; Alex Winter still thought he had a chance at a movie career after starring in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989) and the 2 Coreys were still going strong, their eventual reunion on reality TV not even on the horizon.

With so many actors at the high point of their career, The Lost Boys is a perfect frozen moment in time for them – and for the viewers.

While Kiefer Sutherland isn’t quite the on-screen presence he became, seeing him with his spiked ‘do and vampiric qualities is a fun flashback to his heyday of films like The Lost Boys and Flatliners. He’s got a bit of the darkness in him that seemed to personify his 80’s film career, and it’s still fun to watch him turn this gang leader into something worth watching.

Jason Patric shows why he became popular with his role in The Lost Boys. True, his performance in Rush was still ahead of him, but this role – as he descends into the twisted world of the vampire gang – seems almost a pre-cursor to his drug-addled state in Rush.

The two Coreys (Haim and Feldman, of course) are at their peak in The Lost Boys and showcase the two emerging sides of their duo – Feldman the slightly darker bad boy to Haim’s innocent youth. True, they would go on to wreak havoc as best pals on films like License to Drive, but this film really helped introduce the world to the phenomenon that would be known as the 2 Coreys.

The storyline manages to stand up to the test of time, as the classic tale of vampirism at a tourist trap seems as intriguing today as it did back then. Of course, the whole biker gang with it’s studded clothes and chain-draped leather jackets do look a bit outdated, but the premise definitely continues to intrigue.

True, the special effects are a bit outdated, but since most of the actual gory effects take place off-screen, they aren’t quite as dated as one may expect. Most of it still manages to work, and nothing stands out too much. Sure, the film could use a bit of the digital magic so popular these days – thus allowing viewers to see more than just a bird’s eye view of some of the action, but overall the effects still work pretty well.

The soundtrack, including the popular “Lost In The Shadows (The Lost Boys)”, is still catchy, but it’s not quite the phenomenon it was back in ’87. Back then, the soundtrack seemed to be a must-have – nowadays, “Lost in the Shadows” is probably about the only song from the film still on anyone’s iPod®.

The film doesn’t resonate with the same force these days as it did in my youth, but The Lost Boys has managed to stand the test of time much better than I expected. True, some of the dialogue seems a lot more cheesy these days, and some of the plot points of the film are much easier to spot, but overall the film still manages to mix humor and horror together quite nicely, making the film still a worthy addition to anyone’s DVD collection.

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