‘The Lost Boys’
In 1987, ‘The Lost Boys’ took the self-aware teen films of John Hughes and added in a dash of darkness to create a cultish combination that’s never been bettered
One vampire film to rule them all
To make someone feel every year of their age, just tell them how old their favourite childhood film is. This year,
celebrates its 30th anniversary, promoting an existential crisis in many a xennial (that’s the group in between generation x and millennials) but reminding us that the film’s status as a cult classic has clung on like a sleeping vampire in its cave.
While the fashion may have changed, and our admiration for oiled-up sax players has declined, the sharp story of two brothers who find themselves embroiled with a vampire gang has stayed with us. Remember Jason Patric’s glacial blue eyes caught in headlights; the first time Kiefer Sutherland and his crew reveal themselves as creatures of the night; and Corey Haim’s zingy lines (“My own brother – a goddamn s**t-sucking vampire! You wait till mom finds out.”)
It was a ripe time for teenage movies, thanks to the success of John Hughes’s Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club, while ET and The
Goonies catered for the preteen crowd. Richard Donner, director of The Goonies, was originally in the director’s seat for the first family-friendly iteration of The Lost Boys, dealing with a script that answered the question: what if Peter Pan and the Lost Boys didn’t grow up because they were vampires?
“In our screenplay the main characters were John and Michael and the mother was Wendy,” The Lost Boys said James Jeremias, who cowrote the JM Barrie-referencing script with Janice Fischer. “They were 12 and eight, and we purposefully picked them because we wanted it before sex rears its ugly little head.”
After delays, Richard Donner vacated the director’s chair to move to Lethal Weapon (while still serving as executive producer). Instead, Joel Schumacher (St Elmo’s Fire) stepped in, Corey Haim stayed and the script changed so the brothers and the vampires were older.
“It was really Goonies Go Vampire,” said Schumacher, reflecting on his arrival into the project. “I remember thinking, well I can make it teenagers. The Frog brothers could be little Rambos. And why can’t Star be a sexy girl?”
Dodgy female characterisations aside, the hormonal frisson worked a treat. It meant that the Lost Boys were defined by their cool status as a rebel biker gang. It also allowed an obligatory sex scene between Michael and half-vampire Star, and more importantly it paved the way for the universal dilemma that helps root the story to us normal folk. Which is: if you moved to a new town and your new friends jumped off a bridge, would you?
The move also meant it became a teen horror movie: not only the first time cinemagoers saw such cross-genre, but also the first time vampires had been portrayed as young, sexy and cool, rather than blood-sucking butler-types.