I’ve been a huge fan of Joel Schumacher’s 1987 teen vampire movie The Lost Boys ever since I first saw it at the tail end of the 80s. It’s a great blend of humour, horror and a real MTV aesthetic that makes it a near-perfect 80s time capsule. There are so many iconic scenes, lines and characters – for example, has there ever been a better supporting character than Grandpa Emerson? Not only does he absolutely steal every scene he’s in, but his final line steals the entire damn movie. The Lost Boys has one of the best soundtracks of the 80s (which still sounds great) and practical FX that still hold up – thankfully, the lack of budget for the vampire flying sequences meant that we aren’t subjected to green screen shots of the vampire gang flying through the skies of Santa Carla, which would have aged the film terribly – and the POV shots that were used instead work superbly both from a practical and atmospheric standpoint.
Though Schumacher’s planned sequel, which would have featured an all female gang of vampires and would have – obviously – been called The Lost Girls, never got off the ground, Warner Brothers did make two direct to video sequels: The Lost Boys: The Tribe and The Lost Boys: The Thirst, in 2008 and 2010 respectively. Neither film – despite one or two returning cast members – was able to come anywhere near the high bar set by the first film. Even though more than twenty years had passed between the release of the first film and the production of the next two, they somehow still feel like rushed, cheap cash-ins on the power of The Lost Boys brand, which remains pretty strong even today.
So how does the DC/Vertigo comic book sequel – which ignores the dire movie sequels to tell a story that takes place shortly after the events of the first film – fare? It’s certainly not a resounding success, but it’s definitely not as bad as The Tribe or The Thirst, thankfully.
With one nest of vampires dealt with, life should be returning to normal for Sam and Michael Emerson. Michael has a job at a local care home and Sam now officially works at the comic store owned by the parents of Santa Carla’s teen vampire hunting duo, The Frog Brothers. With Grandpa Emerson’s admission that he hates ‘all the damn vampires’ infesting Santa Carla at the first movie’s climax, though, it seems that he doesn’t just have more knowledge of the undead situation in the town – he’s actively involved in stopping it, as a member of the SCHU: the Santa Carla Hunter’s Union. It’s not long before a new group of vampires – the Blood Belles – emerges to fill the void left by the demise of the late David’s gang, with tragedy striking the Emerson family directly. And it seems that David may not be so ‘late’ after all…
It’s fun to catch up with all of the familiar characters and see what they’re up to after the end of the first film, but there are elements of the story that don’t work particularly well. The addition to the lore of the SCHU makes little sense (though I liked the clever nod to Joel Schumacher in the acronym) – if there were vampire hunters already active in Santa Carla, David’s gang wouldn’t have been able to rampage through the town so openly and without opposition, surely? Tim Capello’s buff, shirtless sax player being a vampire hunter himself (The Believer – named in reference to the song he sings in the film, ‘I Still Believe’) is another fun reference but again, isn’t something that makes much sense given how openly David and the boys seemed to operate.
The plot also gets really messy, with some incredibly ancient vampires brought into the mix and some uninspiring, definitely not scary vampire carnage thrown into the mix. It oddly feels too big in scale to be a logical sequel to the film and too low stakes (pun intended), with the focus on the Emersons and their friends rather than the big, near-apocalyptic situation it should feel like towards the climax.
The Lost Boys Vol. 1 does have its moments, but it’s too reliant on callbacks and interesting but illogical additions to the mythology. A misfire, then, but a valiant one nonetheless – which once again proves that the original film is perhaps the proverbial lightning in a bottle; an almost accidentally iconic, brilliant horror comedy that also serves as a great peek at a very specific point in time.
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