Friday, February 24, 2012

Kiefer Sutherland caused "Twilight"! (or 'I just watched "The Lost Boys" for the first time')


Last night, I watched "The Lost Boys" for the first time. It's heralded by many as another one of those "Classic 80s Movies". Is the 1980s the only decade of cinema that actually has a film-genre named after it?

Anyway, for one reason or another, I always assumed that the movie was sort of a chilled-out indie slasher movie. I went into it thinking it was going to be "The Breakfast Club" with vampires. Well, it was none of those things. The movie is recklessly overblown, ruthlessly stuffed with 80s cheese and frankly, while watching it, I had a horrible realisation. "The Lost Boys" gave birth to the sexy, sullen vampire phenomenon, probably resulting in "Twilight".


Throughout the movie, Jason Patric's character Michael deals with the newfound urges, physical differences and mood swings that come with being a vampire (I quickly learned that subtlety was absolutely NOT the movie's strong point). Throughout this journey over to the world of coffins and crosses, the movie plays this creepy song, to set the atmosphere.

Michael's rarely seen without his trademark sunglasses and spends most of the movie fawning after mysterious beauty named 'Star'. There's even a lusty sex-montage between the two lovers (although no bedposts are broken or wombs eaten, like in that other vampire movie), just so all of the 80s Movie boxes are ticked. And of course, 'Cry Little Sister' is the song that plays over the montage. In spite of how overplayed it is over the course of the movie, it's hauntingly catchy and you'll find yourself humming "Thou shalt not faaaall..." well after the movie is over.

The cause of Michael's fangtastic new lease on life is a gang of biker-thugs led by that pesky young Kiefer Sutherland. Kiefer's character David takes Michael under his demonic wing and turns him into a 'half-vampire', meaning he can still walk around during the day and so on. Unlike a lot of movie vampires, this particular brand of Nosferatu can actually fly without turning bats (as in, they can fly like Superman); but we rarely actually get to see them actually doing it. Instead the movie displays Jaws-like P.O.V. shots, where instead of seeing the vampires, we just see their petrified victims. It works effectively the first couple of times, but it gets to the point where the movie's just never scary.

That's not to say the movie's not entertaining, though. The comic duo of The Two Coreys, Haim and Feldman make the movie really watchable in an unpretentiously fun, cheesy-80s way. They're the comic relief the pretentious "Twilight" movies don't have and they help to remind the viewers that after all is said and done, the movie is really just a bit of silly fun and not to be taken too seriously. There's a really cheesy scene where Haim's character Sam walks into a comic book shop run by Edgar and Alan Frog (played by Feldman and Jamison Newlander; no prizes for guessing who they're named after) and the three young men challenge each other with their insane, anal-retentive knowledge of comic book numbering and trivia. It's one of those scenes that really helped to stereotype what comic fans are supposed to be like. I'd argue that we're not, but then I'd be disproving the whole point of having an Internet blog about superheroes, now wouldn't I? I did really like the poster for "The Dark Knight Returns" seen many times in the scene (and again later in the movie), though.

On that note, I feel like I should mention that the movie was directed by "Good Ol'" Joel Schumacher, the auteur who gave us other quintessential 80s hits like "St. Elmo's Fire", and went on to direct genuinely amazing films like "Falling Down" and "Phone Booth" as well as...well..."Batman & Robin". The film looks similar to how his two Batman movies turned out, with some of the high-concept lighting and production design (but nowhere near the neon flamboyance of his Batman films). It's also hilarious (and a bit worrying) to think that perhaps the only reason he was ever hired to do Batman was because of this film, where there was an abundance of bat-like creatures, as well a scene that was all about comic books. This would seem like I was grasping at straws, except for Kevin Smith's infamous story where he suspects that the only reason he was chosen to write the (never-made) "Superman Lives" movie, is because of how he referenced comic books in "Mallrats".

So basically, in a roundabout way, you might say that the 'sexy, sullen vampire' craze that eventually led to 'Twilight', started with 'The Lost Boys', which was directed by the guy who also made what is generally regarded as the worst superhero film ever made. It's all connected!

Anyway, the movie really is quite entertaining despite all I've said about it. The Two Coreys inject a dumbass charm into it that stops it from being stuffy and pretentiously dark and like every vampire film, it has a few of its own additions to the lore (I loved how it's established that every vampire dies in a unique and different way). The soundtrack is really bonkers and overblown, but it's also lots of fun. All of the actors do their jobs well (meaning, they all over-act suitably) and you won't regret the 90 minutes you spent staring at the screen, by any means.

I'm even a little eager to check out the recent straight-to-video sequels starring Feldman and featuring cameos from Haim and Newlander; but no Kiefer Sutherland sadly; he was too busy having a career after the 80s ended, I guess). Corey Haim's recent death by drug overdose (after a long battle with addiction) meant that he couldn't be in the third film.

(Before we go, I have one interesting fact about Corey Feldman: Besides being in "The Goonies" and "Stand by Me", hee played Donatello in two of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies!)

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