‘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

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - TICKET - WORDS BY SHILPA GANATRA

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.

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