1987 in Film – The Lost Boys

Release Date: July 31st
Box Office: $32,222,567

Vampires, right? Scary fellows who drink blood, firmly embedded in pop culture. Which isn’t bad for a concept that was only really properly defined a hundred or so years ago with Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel.

It was this character that would define what a Vampire was, especially when he made the leap from page to theatre then to the silver screen with Dracula (1931). Bela Lugosi’s take on the character would, and to some extent still does, define what a Vampire was like for most people from then on. The cape, the widow’s peak hair, the accent, that became what a Vampire was. The Hammer films of the 60s would reinforce this, and even a comedic take on Dracula like Love At First Bite (1979) was firmly entrenched in the Lugosi style of Vampire.

Things had been shifting though, with Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicle series part of that shift from Vampires being completely evil to being more of a tragic figure with lashings of eroticism.

The Lost Boys (1987) is firmly part of that trend of moving Vampires away from the now cliched Lugosi style. The film is set in the (then) present day in California. A family moves to a small coastal town and tries to fit in; the mother gets a boyfriend, the younger son meets some friends at the comic shop whilst the older one goes around brooding because he’s a teenager and no one understands him.

Jason Patric is the brooder and he falls for a girl who is also part of a gang of unsavoury characters led by Kiefer Sutherland who may or may not be a gang of vampires.

They are.

Joel Schumacher is the director and he isn’t afraid to employ that MTV style of directing that was everywhere by this stage. It also marks the first on screen pairing of eighties stars Coreys Haim and Feldman. This being the high point before drugs, alcohol and the passing of time ruined everything.

As Patric is initiated into the Vampire gang and begins his change to being one of the undead, his brother played by Haim turns to Feldman. He is a town local who, in post modern fashion, has seen and read everything about vampires so knows how to fight them.

So not only do you have a broody teenager falling in love whilst being a vampire but you have being quoting films and comics when it comes to stopping them. The last big vampire film had been Fright Night (1985) which mined a similar vein of post modernism. This take on the vampire was clearly onto something as the audience lapped up Lost Boys like they did with Fright Night making it a huge success.

Of course it helps that the film is tangentially linked by it’s cast to the then popular Brat Pack group of actors, something else that helps tie the film into the fabric of the 80s. And thats how the film is remembered, because of stuff around the film rather than the film itself. Whilst style over substance is probably the most accurate way to describe the film it still has it’s merits, especially in the way that it adds to the Vampire mythos.

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