Monday, 13 April 2009

Saving The Twilight Fans Souls Part 1 - The Lost Boys

Contrary to popular belief (of no doubt a really small group of people) I do have to work and when I’m not on here declaring my love for obscure & cult cinema, I’m not spending my day, wandering around my expansive estate but usually working my day job at Borders. As jobs go this is cool enough, as it means getting to be surrounded by books all day, but has the serious downside, were you are forced to be excited about whatever is the current big title / series and last Monday as many of you know already saw the release of Twilight on DVD, which is based on the first book of the insanely popular "Twilight" series by Stephenie Meyer, who with the recent departure of Harry Potter is currently the toast of the children’s fiction world and understandably with good reason, as the series is very well written, while at the same time raising some major gripes in the horror fan in me, regarding her vampires and how genre breaking they are, with the main grumble of course being the part were they are not effected by sunlight, which doesn’t cause them to burst into flames, but instead shimmer like a diamond.... Ok what the hell !?! I can cope with the fact that Edward (the story’s vampire love interest) doesn’t drink blood, which by now is well trodden ground first broke by Joss Weldon, who with Buffy managed to make Vampires and numerous horror monsters cool again and yes I can also cope with the fact that Edward is basically a paedophile, seeing how he’s thousands of years old and hanging around a school picking up schoolgirls, but seriously vampires that are not affected by sunlight, kind of takes away the whole point of him being a vampire and makes me all the more worried, about the youth of today, let alone the adults who’ve also succumbed to the charms of this series, who will now think that this is what passes for vampires, a feeling only added to when I have to teenage girls banging on about these books constantly, before suffering the blank expressions when you recommend that they perhaps try reading about proper vampires, such as those featured in Bram Stoker “Dracula” (which honestly was basically about Stoker’s unrequited love, aswell a struggle between tradition and modernity at the end of the century). Occasionally though I will be countered by the comment that “These are teenage vampires” and hence making it easy for them to relate to. Still I must now argue that if this is the reason for standing up for the series, it is on shaky ground and the reason why I am now setting out to save the vampire loving youth of today, by recommending that they check out “The Lost Boys” if they want to see teenage vampires done really well!
Since its original release back in 1987 “The Lost Boys” has built itself a real cult following, with the film being passed on by one generation to the next, much like equally beloved series such as “Friday the 13th” and “Nightmare on Elm Street”. Infact it’s purely on the strength of this following that in 2008 it was given a sequel “Lost Boys: The Tribe” aswell as a comic series “Lost Boys: Reign of Frogs” which fell between these two movies, helpfully tying up several loose ends left by the first film.

The plot to “The Lost Boys” is simple but satisfying as Michael (Jason Patrick), his mom (Dianne Wiest) and his brother Sam (Corey Haim) move to a new town to live with his Taxidermist grandpa (Barnard Hughes), were Michael falls for Star ( Jami Gertz ) who his lust for end up getting him involved with a motorcycle gang lead by the charismatic David (Keifer Sutherland) who also turn out to be vampires.
Having been turned into a half vampire by David, Michael now teams up with his brother as well as Sam’s new friends “The Frog Brothers” Edgar and Allan (Corey Feldman / Jamison Newlander) who run the local comic book store, while also having a sideline in hunting vampires to help him defeat David and remove the curse.

Back when I was a kid the cover of the VHS for this film always fascinated me, much like the original green painted covers for “The Evil Dead” and not being old enough to rent them myself, my only options for seeing such films was either by getting my dad or my really open minded (aswell as horror loving) Grandma to rent them for me, or to wait until they came on TV which is how I eventually got to first see this movie and which since then has stuck with me, as an essential horror classic.

True looking at it today, there are parts which haven’t aged as well as others, with the one moment that springs to mind being the Sweaty sax player in the purple PVC pants, who sparked such an obsession with fans of the film, that it saw him making a cameo appearance in the sequel. Still such fashion crimes can be looked past when the story still stands up as well as it does, moving along at a quick pace it never gets boring, even if it does at times threaten to veer off into being “The Goonies with Vampires” thanks largely to the frog brothers who are in cheeky nod named after horror writer Edgar Allan Poe. Now I know alot of people didn’t like these two, due to the previously mentioned reason, but I was largely amused by their antics, such as their sole resource for vampire slaying research, coming from reading comic books and their DIY style of vampire hunting, which incorporates “Holy Water filled squirt guns” aswell as the fact that their personalities switch between raw bravado and pissing their pants terror, quicker than a hyperactive child on the ups and downs of a sugar rush which I couldn’t help but crack up over, especially during one scene in the final showdown, were they hug each other in sheer terror as they watch a rapidly dissolving vampire, suddenly leap out of the holy water bath they’d previously knocked him into.

In many ways it’s the humour element of “The Lost Boys” which makes it such an assessable film, in much the same way as “An American Werewolf in London” as neither film takes itself to seriously with some memorable dialouge such as when Sam, upon finding his brother has become a vampire remarks

"You're a creature of the night Michael, just like out of a comic book! You're a vampire Michael! My own brother, a goddamn, shit-sucking vampire. You wait 'till mom finds out, buddy!"

It's this element of fun that runs thoughout that stops it from being just another run of the mill vampire flick, while in much the same way as "The Evil Dead" series doesn't trade in scares for the purpose of getting a few more laughs.

Lost Boys also has the advantage of the choice casting of Keifer Sutherland, who is in full dark and moody form, which is rivalled only by his performance in “Flatliners” (1990) which helps make the character of David all the more mysterious and certainly nothing like they traditional vampire mould, as David like the rest of the gang have chosen to use immortality, for reckless abandonment and pure kicks in almost the same way that the biker gang in “Psychomania” (1971) do after making their deal with the devil and this in many ways is a lot more refreshing than the moody vampires that were pretty the norm until this point, with Lost Boys giving the whole genre a kick to the heart, as it opened up new areas for the vampire mythos to go, leading the way in turn to equally classic vampire flicks such as “Near Dark” (1987). While on the subject of making changes to the genre, many naysayers may be keen to defend “Twilight” by pointing out that neither, Michael or Star are affected by sunlight which instead seems to have all the crippling effect of a hangover on them, but is something that is cleared up by mentioning that they are only “Half Vampires” and won’t become full vampires until they feed. Still outside of the slaughter of the surf Nazis, which according to the credits is what the punks on the beach are, there is actually no real vampire like blood sucking, with Michael being turned into a half vampire, simply by drinking blood offered to him by David, but then I guess it might have got slightly too homoerotic for some viewers, if you had David and Michael biting each others necks and honestly it still works, for a transformation scene.
Another standout point which “Twilight” shares with this film is the standout soundtrack which has plenty of great moments, including the creepy choral voices of Gerald McMann’s theme “Cry Little Sister” aswell as Echo and the Bunnymen’s cover of The Doors track “People are strange” which the track also getting an additional nod, of having Jim Morrison’s picture hanging in the vampire layer.

“The Lost Boys” is one of the few movies, that might convince me that Vampires are cool, especially seeing how I’ve never really seen the appeal, which begs the question as to why Stephanie Meyer choose to use vampires for her characters, when she takes away may of the things which make a vampire a vampire. Surely it would have just been better to make them werewolves (or Lycans if you want to be technical about it) which are much cooler. But were is the cool teenage werewolves? Fear not I am not going to say “Teen Wolf” (1985) but instead point more in the direction of “Ginger Snaps” (2000) which I will be looking at next time in the second part of this article, as I attempt to save what’s left of those Twilight loving souls.

In the meantime if your around the section of your local bookstore, were they keep the twilight series, I can highly recommend “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins which in many ways is like “Logan’s Run” meets “Battle Royale” for kids, but lacking none of the gory moments of “Battle Royale which it could be easily accused of ripping off, but thankfully manages to put it’s own unique spin on.


  1. It's funny, I used to love The Lost Boys when I was younger, but now there are so many cringe moments, it's hard for me to make it through. I think Fright Night did a much better job of melding the comedy with vampires, and had much better special f/x to boot.

    I terms of Twilight, the fad seems shocking to me. I walked past HMV yesterday, and they had signs up saying 'two disc DVD of Twilight NOW back in stock!', as if they had been plagued by teenagers and children, gasping to get their pubescent hands on it. I will have to watch it see what is wrong with these people...

    I think the rules of the vampire genre can be broken, but only in a smart way that can de-construct the genre itself. Check out George Romero's Martin for this. My personal favorite vampire film of all time.

  2. Regarding Twilight, it's such a weird phenomenon. When I was in grad school about three years ago, I took a young adult lit class and did my final research project on goth teens in young adult lit. I had to search high and low for five titles to represent my research and it was difficult! Now you walk into any Barnes and Noble and there are tons of books, spurned by Twilight's popularity, no doubt, focusing on goth teens or aimed at goth teens. Funny how one book (movie, what have you) can become so viral. Is is about money? Is it about hitting the big time? Or is it really about the art?

    I haven't watched the Twilight movie yet, but I did read the books last year. They were ok - I liked the whole Volturi thing, I thought that was pretty cool, but yeah, I agree with Johnny666, it's okay for the rules to be broken, and we horror fans deserve a fresh approach sometimes, don't you think, but it has to be done in such a way that it's smart, so we don't scratch our collective heads and say, WTF was that about? If you want some recent fiction that features hardcore vamp action, check out David Wellington's vampire series starting with 13 Bullets, if you haven't already. Vamps as mean ass monsters never looked so good.

    Keep up the kick ass reviews!


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