Horror Movie Redux is a recurring column where the teenagers and I revisit some of the horror movies from my youth. Today we tackle an absolute campy classic, 1987’s The Lost Boys.
Directed by Joel Schumacher, in his first foray into the horror genre (and coming off the monumental success of St. Elmo’s Fire), The Lost Boys combined elements of the classic horror comics shown prominently throughout the film with a young, pretty, popular cast to create an instant cult classic. Set in the fictional town of Santa Clara, California, two brothers – played by Jason Patric and Corey Haim, along with their mother played by Diane Weist – battle the forces of evil as they soon realize that their new hometown is crawling with the blood-thirsty undead.
I was 12-years old when this film hit the theaters, and it was released at a time when I was starting to deep dive into horror movies, Stephen King, and heavy metal. For me, personally, it was the perfect movie for the time and has remained one of my absolute favorite films over 30 years later. (Not to mention that for 12-year old me Kiefer Sutherland as vampire gang leader, David, was the epitome of cool. I would have joined his vampire gang in a red-hot second.) But would it still hold up after so many views, and such a big time gap between viewings? And would the kids find the same love for this film that I did?
Did It Hold Up Over Time?
Definitely. One of the appeals of this film is that its story is somewhat universal. New family in town, trying to find their way. The older brother falls in with a rough crowd, only this time the rough crowd happens to be vampires. Brothers band together with new outcast friends to fight the forces of evil. Add in a killer soundtrack, some exceptional cinematography, over-the-top characters, and extremely quotable one-liners and you have a movie that has stood the test of time better than almost any other from the era. Even with the, at times, outlandish costumes and giant hair this movie never feels too dated to enjoy. In fact, the film’s most dated scene has also become one of its most iconic, as a muscle-bound, greased-up saxophone player thrills a weirdly eclectic crowd with a beach-side concert. (Two things here. That sax player was Tim Cappello who was a much sought after side man back in the day and played/toured with Tina Turner for a long time. Secondly that was the scene we all fell in love with Jami Gertz.)
At the time of our viewing last summer this was one of the first horror movies I unleashed on the 16 and 13-year old. I think I did them a disservice at first by building up the hype on this film to extreme levels. After some initial trepidation, revolving mostly around the outfits, the hair styles, and Corey Feldman’s acting, they both warmed up to it. The 13-year old especially was taken aback a bit by the fact that there were moments in the film meant to act as comedy relief, but I chalk that up to me not giving them fair warning as to the film’s kitschy script and casting. With that said once the end credits started to roll they were both declaring certain levels of love for the film as well. Truly the mark of a film that’s held up over time.
Is It Child Appropriate?
Yes and no. From a strictly violence standpoint, this is a vampire film. Which means there is going to be blood, and while it’s not the goriest film ever, overall younger kids especially may get spooked by at least one kill scene in particular involving the mass slaughter of a rival group of teens and the various gruesome ways that each vampire meets their demise. (Let’s just say I absolutely pity the plumber who had to come into that house after the climatic final scenes.) There is also a love scene between Patric and Gertz that was racier than I remember it being, and plenty of curse words get tossed around. With that said there is no nudity, your kids have probably seen worse on network TV shows these days, and every curse word is a standard one I guarantee they are hearing at school or on the bus. Common Sense Media rates this film 16+ but parents on the site rate it 12+. Depending on where your kids are at with their viewing habits this movie has the potential to feel very tame for most of its run-time, but there are some ‘cover-your-eyes’ types of scenes.
I’ve probably watched this movie a dozen times at the very least. It was one of those films we owned on VHS back in the day and my brother and I would bust out every few months. While I’m loathe to give any film a perfect score, it’s hard for me to rate this any lower than an 8.5 out of 10, and at least some of that I know is based on the nostalgia factor. As for the kids, the 16-year old loved it straight away and a year later still gives it a solid 8 out of 10. The 13-year old had a different take. Initially he wanted, and was expecting, something darker and had a hard time working past some of the shenanigans that often cut the atmosphere in half. If I wrote this post the day after we watched it his rating would have been in the 5-6 range. However, over time, and with a much broader pallet of horror movies under his belt, he has a new-found appreciation for this film and also drops a solid 8 out of 10.
Overall Family Rating: 8.17