The Lost Boys Explained

For other uses see The Lost Boys (disambiguation).

The Lost Boys
Starring:Jason Patric
Kiefer Sutherland
Corey Haim
Corey Feldman
Jami Gertz
Edward Herrmann
Barnard Hughes
Dianne Wiest
Director:Joel Schumacher
Cinematography:Michael Chapman
Editing:Robert Brown
Producer:Harvey Bernhard
Richard Donner
Distributor:Warner Bros.
Released:July 31, 1987
Runtime:93 minutes
Music:Thomas Newman
Country: United States
Followed By: (2008)

The Lost Boys is a 1987 American comedy-horror film about two young Arizonans who move to California and end up fighting a gang of teenage vampires.

Directed by Joel Schumacher, the film stars Jason Patric, Corey Haim, and Kiefer Sutherland, and co-stars Jami Gertz, Corey Feldman, Dianne Wiest, Edward Herrmann, Alex Winter, Jamison Newlander, and Barnard Hughes.

The title is a reference to the Lost Boys in J. M. Barrie's stories about Peter Pan and Neverland.


After a strange and mysterious murder at a fairground at the immediate start of the film, Michael and Sam move with their mother Lucy to Santa Carla, a coastal California town plagued with gang activity and unexplained disappearances. The family moves in with Lucy's father, a cantankerous old man who lives in the outlying suburbs of town and who decorates his house with the product of his hobby: taxidermy.

The center of town life seems to be the local boardwalk. While Lucy gets a job at a local video and electronics store run by a man named Max, Michael is fascinated by a beautiful young woman who he sees at an outdoor concert. After following her along the boardwalk, he sees her getting on a motorcycle with David, the leader of the local gang. The following night he finds the young woman again and learns her name is Star. As they are about to leave together on Michael's motorcycle, David reappears and provokes Michael into following him and his cadre. They drive to some sea-cliffs where Michael is almost baited into going over the edge. Michael punches David, who merely sees potential in Michael and invites him to the gang's lair, an old dilapidated hotel that sank beneath the ground.

At the hotel, the gang leads Michael through an unsettling initiation involving Chinese takeout. At the end, an annoyed Michael takes a swig from a bottle which the gang claims is wine, however it turns out to be vampire blood. The gang then takes Michael out to where some railroad tracks cross a foggy gorge; one by one the group jumps off the tracks and out of sight. Michael realizes they are hanging from exposed reinforcement bars. They talk him into joining them under the tracks. As the train roars overhead, the reinforcement bar shakes and one by one the members of the gang fall into the foggy gorge, but they do not die; Michael can hear them goading him to fall. Unable to lift himself up, or hold on any longer, Michael falls in as well.

Michael wakes up in his bed still in the clothes he wore the night before. He is groggy and disoriented. It is mid-day and he has no clue how he got there. In the meantime, Sam has made the acquaintance of two young brothers, Edgar and Alan Frog. The Frog brothers run the local comic book store for their burn-out parents. Upon learning that Sam is new to the area they force a couple of vampire themed comic books on him despite his protestation that he does not like horror comics. They explain to him that they may one day save his life. Sam is initially mocking of their claims but becomes suspicious of Michael's increasingly bizarre behavior, including sleeping all day and being sensitive to sunlight. One day, as Sam is taking a bath, Michael, driven by bloodlust attempts to attack him, but is fought off by the family's dog. Afterwards Sam becomes convinced that Michael is a vampire when Michael is seen to be partly transparent in a mirror and soon afterwards begins uncontrollably floating around the house. In a panic he calls the Frog brothers, who inform him that he must kill Michael, but Sam refuses to murder his brother. Michael returns to the gang, and they reveal that they are indeed vampires and murder a group of teenagers at a bonfire party. David explains that Michael must feed in order to survive, but Michael refuses to kill and leaves. Returning to the groups lair he discovers Star, who reveals their nature as "half vampires" who will not achieve full vampire status until they have killed. She says that David had intended for Michael to be her first kill but that she cannot do it. The two make love.

Sam has discovered, from comic books that if the "head vampire" is killed then all of his subordinate "half vampires" will revert to human form. Unwilling to kill his brother he enlists the Frog brother's help in trying to kill the head vampire. This proves difficult, as it is not immediately evident who this is. Sam and the Frog Brothers suspect Max, who has begun dating Sam's mother and whom they have never seen during the day, but their tests during his visit to their house all indicate he is human.

The teens determine that one of the gang must be the head vampire. Michael, disgusted at the transformation he has undergone, joins them in an attempt to rescue Star and her young brother Laddie, also a "half vampire" and reverse their condition. The group travels to the gang's lair and while Michael rescues Star and Laddie, the Frog Brothers and Sam travel deep into the lair to kill the vampires. They discover the gang asleep, hanging from the roof like bats. Unsure of which one of the gang is the head vampire the Frog brothers stake Marko, one of the gang members who expires in an explosive fashion. With the rest of the gang woken by the commotion the three boys retreat, with Sam narrowly escaping capture by David. That night, while Lucy is on a date with Max and their grandfather is away, the teens barricade their house and prepare for the gang's assault. Among other things they steal holy water from a church and fill squirt guns with it to use against the vampires. That night the gang attacks. With the help of Sam's dog, Nanook, the defenders pick off the gang-members one by one, with Sam shooting Dwayne through the heart with an arrow, Nanook knocking Paul into a bathtub full of holy water and garlic, and Michael impaling David on some deer antlers in his grandfather's taxidermy workshop. However, Michael is still a vampire, and Max and Lucy then appear and Max reveals himself to be the head vampire after all; the tests hadn't worked because he had been freely invited into the house. He reveals that he had wanted Lucy as his mate and that his "family" and hers would merge. Lucy is horrified, but Max threatens to kill Sam unless she joins him. As Max is about to bite Lucy's neck, her father crashes his jeep through the wall of the house; the vehicle's hood is piled up with large fence posts, and one of them impales Max, killing him. These fence posts had earlier, inexplicably, been put into the ground by Grandpa with the spiky end up. As the others stare in amazement, Grandpa casually gets a root beer from the refrigerator and remarks, "One thing about living in Santa Carla I never could stomach... all the damn vampires."


Keenan Wynn and John Carradine (a veteran of vampire films) were both original choices for Grandpa. Wynn died right before filming and Carradine was too ill.

Though almost all of Kelly Jo Minter's scenes are deleted from the film, and the only true appearance she makes is over Lucy's shoulder in the video store, she still received billing in the film's opening credits. Her scenes can be viewed in the 2004 Lost Boys DVD special features.


Box office and critical importance

The Lost Boys performed well at the U.S. box office, grossing over $32 million - a strong performance for an R-rated horror movie, especially at that time.

It won a Saturn Award for Best Horror Film in 1987. The film was part of an 80s trend to make the vampire figures of the stories of old more applicable to audiences in the 1980s, one that included 1987's western-gothic Near Dark and the suburban Fright Night of 1985.

The Novel

As was the case for many of WB's films at the time, Craig Shaw Gardner was given a copy of the script and asked to write a short novel to accompany the film's release. It was released in paperback by Berkley Publishing and is 220 pages long. It includes several scenes later dropped from the film such as Michael working as a trash man for money to buy his leather jacket. It expands the roles of the opposing gang, the Surf Nazis, who were seen as nameless victims of the vampires in the film. It includes several tidbits of vampire lore, such as not being able to cross running water and salt sticking to their forms. It has become something of a collector's item among fans with prices ranging from $20 for a well-read and somewhat battered copy to well over a $150 for copies in good condition (see external links).

The Sequels

'David' (Kiefer Sutherland) is impaled on a pair of antlers but doesn't disintegrate like the other vampires. Despite what Max later says, he is not really supposed to be dead. This was intended to be picked up in a sequel, The Lost Girls, which was scripted but never made. In Lost Boys: The Tribe this is explained away as a vampire being able to be killed by anything through the heart, not just a wooden stake. David does not appear in Lost Boys: The Tribe. He makes a reappearance in the comic book series, , which serves as a prequel to Lost Boys: The Tribe and explains the antlers missed his heart.

Scripts for this and other sequels have been circulating since the late 1980s, and the original film's director, Joel Schumacher, made several attempts at one during the 1990s.

Finally, over 20 years after the release of the original film, , was greenlighted. Corey Feldman reprises his role as Edgar Frog, with cameos by Jamison Newlander and Corey Haim as Alan Frog and Sam Emerson, respectively.

The sequel started shooting in Vancouver in June, 2007. Earlier that year Warner Bros. revealed it would produce a number of straight-to-video sequels for its existing library of franchise-friendly films, including the Lost Boys sequel.[1]

Kiefer Sutherland's half-brother Angus Sutherland takes over the role of lead vampire in the sequel.


See main article: The Lost Boys (soundtrack). Thomas Newman wrote the film score to be an eerie blend of orchestra and organ arrangement while the music soundtrack contains a number of notable songs and several covers, including "Good Times", a duet between INXS and former Cold Chisel lead singer Jimmy Barnes which reached number 1 on the Australian charts in early 1987. This cover version of a 1960s Australian hit by the Easybeats was originally recorded to promote the Australian Made tour of Australia in early 1987, headlined by INXS and Barnes.

Tim Capello's cover of The Call's "I Still Believe" was featured in the film as well as on the soundtrack. Tim Capello makes a small cameo appearance in the movie playing the song at the Santa Carla boardwalk, with his saxophone and trademark bodybuilder muscles on display.

The soundtrack also features a cover version of The Doors' song "People are Strange" by Echo & the Bunnymen. The song as it featured in the movie is an alternate, shortened version with a slightly different music arrangement. This version has not been released as of yet.

Lou Gramm, the famed lead singer of Foreigner, also recorded "Lost in the Shadows" for the soundtrack, along with a video which featured clips from the film.[2]

The theme song, "Cry Little Sister", was originally recorded by Gerard McMahon (under his pseudonym of Gerard McMann) for the soundtrack, and later re-released on his self-titled album "G Tom Mac" in 2000.In the sequel of the film the theme song "Cry Little Sister" was covered by a Seattle based rock band "Aiden".[3] A re-make of the song was done by Zug Izland. Many of the lyrics were changed, including some apparent mondegreens. Zug Izland's song is called "Cry" and is featured on their album "Cracked Tiles."

Songs Not On Soundtrack

References in popular culture

The phrase "vamp-out" has gone on to be used elsewhere, including as slang on the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Other Buffy connections include Kiefer Sutherland's father, Donald Sutherland, who played the role of Buffy's first Watcher, Merrick, in the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer feature film. The film, however, was not canon to the TV series.

In a number of sitcoms, Haim and Feldman reference The Lost Boys. In National Lampoon's Last Resort, Haim tries crossing himself to ward off an attacker. Feldman interrupts, "Hey, cut that out. You already did that in The Lost Boys."

Plus, the show Big Wolf on Campus had Haim and Feldman appear in different episodes as themselves, but vampires, the story being that during the making of The Lost Boys, they actually became vampires.

In the movie Reservoir Dogs Mr. Orange talks about how he was interrupted in his efforts to watch the movie.

Hardcore punk group Death By Stereo gets their name from a line spoken by Sam Emerson. A clip from the movie can be heard on the first song of their album If Looks Could Kill, I'd Watch You Die.

The song "Santa Carla Twilight" by psychobilly band Tiger Army is named after the town in The Lost Boys and makes references to vampirism.

The movie inspired the eponymous song "Lost Boys" by Finnish rock band The 69 Eyes. The movie-adapting video for the song was directed by Bam Margera.

The 2004 Activision video game makes reference to the film during a quest in the Hollywood hub. The quest involves the player convincing a food critic to give a certain cafe a bad review. If the player's character is a Malkavian, they may use their power of Dementation to make him think he's eating maggots. The line is identical to Kiefer Sutherland's character's spoken dialogue in the film with the phrase "Not like this is from a movie or anything..." added at the end.

Notes and References

  1. - Dusk Till Dawn helmer does Lost Boys 2
  2. 80s Music Channel: Lost in the Shadows
  3. 80s Music Channel: Cry Little Sister