The Lost Boys Movie Review
Reviewed By: Katy Whitton on 29 October, 2021
Genre: Horror, Supernatural
UK Release Date: 23-10-1987
Studio: Warner Bros.
This review is part of the Spooky Season Film Review Series – read all the reviews here
The Lost Boys is one of those films that, if you’re of a “certain age” was a must see. Coming off the back of the Brat Pack movement, The Lost Boys was a gritty and yet comedic take on the Vampire genre.
Set in the seaside resort of Santa Carla – self-named “murder capital of the world” – the film opens with a sweeping view of the sea before moving on to show the funfair that is the lifeblood of the town.
Every town has its group of bad boys and Santa Carla is no different; we’re introduced to a posse of self-styled tough guys who are causing trouble on the carousel – wow! Such bravado! A security guard sees the boys messing with people on the ride and kicks them out of the funfair – that’s a mistake he’s going to regret.
As the fair shuts, the security guard is making his way across an empty car park, he’s just about to get into his car when he’s dragged into the air by unseen forces, taking his car door with him.
The use of the aerial shots in these opening sequences are fantastic, they lend a great deal of unease to the action even though we don’t see anything explicitly on screen. And that’s the great thing about this movie – terrible things are happening to the folks in Santa Carla but we don’t actually see what happens to them, we just know it’s going to be a violent end due to the way they are snatched.
The following day, we’re introduced to the Emerson family who are relocating to Santa Carla from Phoenix, Arizona following the Mother Lucy’s (Dianne Wiest) divorce. They move into her father’s house and he’s… unconventional to say the least!
Lucy’s sons, Michael (Jason Patrick) and Sam (Corey Haim), wander down to the fairground to take in the local sights where Michael sees a beautiful girl. After a couple of nights and in totally-non-creepy-typically-80s-stalker-fashion Michael finally gets to talk to the girl who he finds out is called Star (Jami Gertz). She’s involved with the carousel loving bad-boy gang and their leader, David (Kiefer Sutherland), challenges Michael to ride to the bluffs. Of course, Michael accepts because he needs to impress the girl and testosterone or something.
Meanwhile Michael’s younger brother is rummaging around a comic book store (remember when they were a thing?) and meets the Frog Brothers (Corey Feldman and Jason Newlander). Their parents own the store and they grudgingly work there but only as a cover for their alleged supernatural detecting skills. They try to give Sam a comic about vampires but he refuses to accept it and leaves even though they tell him “You’ll like this Mr. Phoenix, it might save your life.”
One thing to notice when all of this is going on is the attention to detail the set designers put it. The comic book store is fantastically laid out and, as are the boardwalk and fairground, there are missing persons posters everywhere. It might seem like a minor thing but once you start to notice the posters you begin to be aware of the scale of the issue of people just vanishing – maybe Santa Carla is the “murder capital of the world” after all – but why?
That mystery is soon to be solved when Michael unwittingly gets initiated into David’s gang. They’re not just your usual run-of-the-mill thugs, they have a secret and it will cause Michael to almost tear his family apart and become something he fears the most.
The Lost Boys isn’t your typical vampire film, it certainly covers all of the basic of vampire lore such as Holy water, garlic and stakes but it does so with a neat twist that you won’t see coming. The film itself is well directed, although director Joel Schumacher does like to reuse his aerial shot style a lot (I guess he had a helicopter and had to make the most of it) and the soundtrack is fantastic (if you like 80s music that is) and really works well alongside the visuals of the movie.
The editing is slick and while there’s a bit of family drama it doesn’t feel like it slows the plot down but rather adds to the well-roundedness of the characters. You can really feel Lucy’s exasperation as her youngest son Sam scuppers yet another romantic date night because she thinks he doesn’t want her to be happy (spoiler alert he’s not doing it for that reason, his brother is floating out of the bedroom window).
The effects are also surprisingly good for a film that is over 30 years old (oh no, I am officially ancient!) I do have a fondness for practical special effects – you just don’t get the same sense of realness sometimes knowing that it’s all CGI and people’s faces are being morphed with a computer (I’m looking at you face mask & outfit in Green Lantern). Plus, I also think that if the film were made today they would try and be really over-the-top with some scenes thanks to having access to CGI and how they filmed this in 1987 in a rather understated way adds to the tone and the suspense of the film.
If you’re looking for an all-out gore fest, this film isn’t for you (although there are a couple of comedic death scenes that are shown) but what you’ll get instead is an insightful look into kids (and adults) trying to fit in with the world, it just so happens it’s set against the backdrop of a town filled with murderous vampires.
Watch this if you wish that the kids in The Breakfast Club had fangs.