Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Lost Boys


I am extremely irate with the people responsible for the running of the California gubernatorial election. Firstly, my invitation to the recent televised debate seems to have been lost in the mail despite my obvious front runner status. Nevertheless, I made the journey to Sacramento in order to participate. After a very unpleasant scene with some rather odious so called security guards, I was finally admitted, but they put me at this side table, far from the center of the debate. No matter how hard I tried, it was very difficult for me to get any camera time, even with a rousing rendition of We're In The Money as an answer to a question on campaign finance reform. I was not at all amused and let Mr. Schwarzenegger have a piece of my mind after the event. He was most rude, seeming not to even know who I was.

I telephoned Madame Rose, my publicist, and told her to get busy on getting my face and my platform out to the voters, pronto. It's only about ten days until the election. Our 'Tap Into Change' program with having the voters of California dump their spare pocket change into specially marked buckets in convenient 7-11 stores has given us enough money to do one last television commercial blitz just before election day. She thinks I need a bit more outreach to the sizable Latino community in this state. We're going to shoot a lovely little thirty second spot where I explain my vision for a new California, all while doing the Mexican hat dance. That should put me over the top.

Joseph, my manager, is busy making the arrangements (he even thinks he can get Esai Morales to play the Sombrero), so I had a few minutes to relax at home in my luxurious home theater. I flipped through my rapidly enlarging to view stack of DVDs and ran across The Lost Boys, Joel Schumacher's 1987 film on family relationships in coastal California. I thought it a perfect choice as it might put me more in touch with the mindset of the average voter and get me in tune with their needs and feelings.

The Lost Boys takes place in a thinly disguised Santa Cruz, a coastal town with a beachfront amusement park, and a distinct problem with unsolved murders. New to town is the Emerson family, mom (Dianne Wiest) and two teen-aged sons, Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim). Mom is a recent divorcee without money and so they all move into a luxurious hunting lodge cabin with her father (Barnard Hughes), an eccentric aging hippie into bad taxidermy and Windex as aftershave.

The Emersons soon come to understand that the cool, and somewhat ill behaved teen miscreants who haunt the Boardwalk late at night are more creatures of the night than they at first appear and Michael, who falls in with their leader, David (Kiefer Sutherland), as he moons after his girlfriend, Star (Jami Gertz), starts to have somewhat upsetting feelings and visions after drinking a little blood with them. David and his gang, vampires all, attempt to turn Michael to the dark side but can't completely succeed without his making his first kill.

Sam, meanwhile, falls in with the teenaged Frog brothers (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander), proprietors of a comic book store and self styled vampire hunters. When Sam finds out that his brother is well on his way to vampdom, he and the Frogs team up to wipe out the nest, but don't have the ability to get more than one before they're driven off. Sam has the unenviable task of trying to explain things to mom (who is trying to date her new boss (Edward Herrman)) and also try to figure out who the head vampire is and destroy him so that Michael will be freed from the spell. This leads to a grand final showdown with much splintering of furniture, and most of the cast bloodied, as the Peter Pan references of the title are explained.

The film has become a bit of a minor classic amongst vampire films, mainly due to its visual look. Joel Schumacher, the director who later ruined the Batman franchise, started out as a costume designer and window dresser and boy does he know how to make people look good. The vampire boys all have plastic hair extensions, giving them wild eighties mullets, paired with jazzy Melrose Avenue thrift store duds which give them an incredible look - part surf Nazi, part biker dude, part disco king. Every teen who saw the film in original release wanted to look like them, and did - at least until the first roll of film came back. Schumacher also makes the most of his locations, Santa Cruz, fictionalized as Santa Carla, looks both sunny and dreadful at the same time, filled with people who may or may not be pure evil. (An early sequence to The Doors' People are Strange is a minor classic.)

The performances are all over the map, and mainly over its top. Jason Patric, in his first major film role, does little but brood. Kiefer Sutherland, already well established, is both seductive and disgusting in his role and relishes his hilariously bad dialogue. Dianne Wiest is wasted in her usual groovy mom role. She isn't given nearly enough to do, even though, thematically, she's the pivotal figure. The two Coreys, at the peak of their fame, are a lot of fun and Corey Haim even gives a decent performance as young Sam. Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander are playing caricatures and have little to do but bully or shriek.

The script, by Janice Fisher and Jeffrey Boam, has a lot of strange little moments in it with the occasional outrageous bit of humor, most of it delivered by Barnard Hughes with an absolutely straight face. Ultimately, the various pieces of plot don't hang together terribly well and a lot of the character motivation is awfully weak. Things happen to set up the next scene or for a great line or for a particular visual moment, not because they make any sense motivationally or psychologically.

Nevertheless, the film is great fun and a perfectly harmless way to spend a few hours when there's little else that need be accomplished. The look is so eighties, its dating into a rather amusing period piece in its own way, and will certainly be there in another decade or so.

Carousel rough housing. Murderous beach parties. Railroad bridge jumping. Corey Haim in bathtub. Enraged dog. Stuffed marmot. Gratuitous maggot eating. Horror comics. Death by stereo. Exploding vampire body fluids. Garlic necklace. Gratuitous urchin in 30s bellboy uniform.

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