Ever since an obscure actor named Max Schreck put the bite on a maiden’s neck in the 1922 German silent film Nosferatu, vampires have been big box-office business.
Hollywood took its cue a decade later, and turned Hungarian Bela Lugosi into the most famous moneymaking bloodsucker, whose visage has now become a motion picture cliche.
Gaunt John Carradine became Count Dracula during the 1940s in a pair of fright films, while British actor Christopher Lee added physical presence and a taciturn, animal cunning to the role during the 1960s and 1970s.
That left Frank Langella with the most recent original interpretation, based on his Broadway stage triumph — namely, a romantic, misunderstood vampire.
So in the 1980s, one would think that author Bram Stoker’s (the author of the novel Dracula) rather Victorian notion of a fanged nobleman would have run its course.
Meet The Lost Boys.
The Lost Boys
These days, when youths go bad, they get rotten. But such a deal; there’s a lot to be said for sleeping all day and partying all night
How does one become a vampire these days? Admittedly, that’s the one point sorely lacking in Joel Schumacher’s rather campy film about West Coast punk-rock/biker vampires.
Leader of the pack is Kiefer Sutherland (son of actor Donald Sutherland). As a spiky-haired motorcycle nasty, he and the rest of the undead brood frequent an amusement park. Main squeeze Jami Gertz is always ready to hop on for a ride, but she isn’t always willing to engage in the band’s other nocturnal fun.
Standing out in the crowd are brothers, played by Corey Feldman and Corey Haim. They’ve recently moved to town with Mom, played by an unusually peaked Dianne Wiest, who recently garnered an Academy Award for “Hannah and Her Sisters.”
Older brother Feldman is attracted to Gertz; he also finds some precarious camaraderie with Sutherland and his anxious buddies. In short order, Feldman is casting little reflection in the mirror and is having the strangest cravings.
Haim believes there are vampire bats in his older brother’s belfry. Besides, he knows all about the subject from reading vampire pulp-fiction.
The Lost Boys is offbeat entertainment
Campy or vampire spoof, call it what you like. The Lost Boys is decidedly offbeat entertainment… with a twist.
The cast is especially notable, with eccentric Bernard Hughes stealing the show as a grandpa with a ponytail, while always-excellent Edward Herrmann isn’t far behind in the ability to nab scenes.
Still, Schumacher and the scriptwriters take a lot of liberties with vampire legend and lore. While some details — garlic, wooden stakes, holy water, etc. are utilized by the resourceful heroes, the vampires are in absolute control — almost.
The ending is a surprise, although perhaps less so when one stops to count the red herrings.
The Lost Boys is heady, cutting-edge vampire stuff. Mind you, it’s also very tongue-in-cheek.