Wednesday, 11 November 2009

You're a vampire Michael! My own brother, a goddamn, shit-sucking vampire. You wait 'till mom finds out, buddy!

No 438 - The Lost Boys
Director - Joel Schumacher

I find vampires fascinating. There are so many different ways to tell the story, from the sublime to the ridiculous. I love that there are so many ways to tell the story, that although there are similarities, no two vampire films are alike with different powers and different weaknesses.
In this list we'll look at a number of very different Vampires ranging from the ethereal beauty of Anne Rice's vampires to the brutish Monsters at the Titty Twister.


We begin with Lost Boys, looking at Vampires as 80's heart throbs and icons. Where the key word is 80's. It seems that in order to become a vampire at Santa Carla you have to have the most atrocious mullet - but not only that, it seems that this entire film is a celebration of the 80s, with a fantastic cast - including the Coreys - both Haim and Feldman and with none other than Bill S Preston esq (I never knew Alex Winter did anything outside of Bill and Ted), and an amazing soundtrack.
It is important to mention the excellent Cry Little Sister which adds the perfect level of electro Gothic to the environs.


However, whilst I could spend the entire blog talking about the incredible 80's-ness of the film, let us move on and look at the actual vampire elements and the story.
A family move to a coastal town that is terrorized by a group of vampires (led by a menacing and genuinely quite creepy Kiefer Sutherland), the eldest Son, Mike (Jason Patric - my friend Tara would like to point out that he is a handsome chappy) gets roped into the vampire group and gradually descends into a worse and worse condition.
Meanwhile, the youngest son, Sam, gets increasingly paranoid and starts hanging out with Santa Carla's young vampire hunters, the Frog brothers.


As there are two key plot strands in this film I want to tackle them individually, starting with the Vampire element.


Whilst the film has really dated, the story of Mike's descent is very well done. The film brings the concept of full and half vampires. Mike is a half vampire and gradually becomes more vampiric throughout the film. Mike is frequently shot to look like a junkie, and a lot of his traits and characteristics are quite common with the way they show addicts in films. He becomes more slovenly, he becomes more tetchy, he lies around all day and craves his next fix. Of blood. Of course, Mike also starts floating around his room, which is not a common junkie trait.
I think this is an idea which the film was trying to portray - see the point where Mike first takes blood and the very deliberate overlapped photo of Jim Morrison
The plot is handled quite seriously, it is about a boy getting caught up in the wrong crowd, of gradually alienating himself. The vampiric element is almost secondary, it is a metaphor. It is about this titular idea of Lost Boys. Of losing a son to a group or to a drug, of them becoming more and more alienated and aggressive.

All of this makes sense in the film. It is just a shame that they cheapen it with the Frog Brothers and with Sam's vampire hunting mission. Before I talk about the final scenes of the film, I just want to say that I don't like the Frog Brothers... mainly because of Feldman's ridiculous gravelly voice. It sounds silly.
Over the course of the film, Sam and the Frog brothers gather more information about the vampires and lure them to Sam's home for the final showdown - armed with water pistols and baths full of holy water, with dozens of stakes the film takes an unusual (and not really ideal) change of tone.
Rather than taking a turn for the darker with an epic final battle, the tone kind of goes down the Home Alone or Gremlins route. So firstly the house is full of booby traps but most disappointing is that the deaths are slapstick explosions of blood and body parts, melting skeletons and pantomime horror.

The only person who seems to avoid this is Kiefer Sutherland who gets a serene white light as he is staked, rather than gushing geysers of blood from his wounds.

I think these final scenes spell out the problem with the entire film. The central idea is good but the execution is not. The film has dated and the film is unsure in its tonality, which is a shame... The sexy teen idea of vampirism has been

I've heard that the sequel is worse. Part of me really wants to watch it.

4 comments:

Captain James Amazing said...

For some reason my BlackBerry® won't let me amend the unfinished paragraph.

But I can do it here as a comment:
-ahem-
The sexy teen idea of vampirism has been done far better by Buffy. Films and books such as the Twilight series (which I'll admit I have not seen or read) shows the appeal and danger in fraternising with these other worldly entities. If Lost Boys had had the strength to end the film with the same darkness, danger and joi de vivre, it could have been a far more interesting film.

That is all

Captain James Amazing said...

For some reason my BlackBerry® won't let me amend the unfinished paragraph.

But I can do it here as a comment:
-ahem-
The sexy teen idea of vampirism has been done far better by Buffy. Films and books such as the Twilight series (which I'll admit I have not seen or read) shows the appeal and danger in fraternising with these other worldly entities. If Lost Boys had had the strength to end the film with the same darkness, danger and joi de vivre, it could have been a far more interesting film.

That is all

Siobhan said...

I think Alex Winter did lots of directing but that may be a rumour - I always thought he did little bits of acting and more directing, though after looking at IMDB it seems he just did a little of both.

Wally.Wonka said...

Tim, although I see your point with the cheesey deaths, this is one of my favourite films. I guess it could be because I saw it first when I was very young and was too naive to pick up on the drug addiction side of the story. I was just in it for the ride. Also, you can't beat the greased up sax player!!
Wally x