“Sleep all day. Party all night. Never grow old. Never die. It’s fun to be a vampire.” That was the tagline for the 1987 vampire cult classic The Lost Boys. And over 30 years later, the gang of motorcycle-riding, punk-rock rebel vampires, led by Kiefer Sutherland’s David, are still the epitome of teenage cool.
The CW is adapting the Joel Schumacher film into a series, and we couldn’t be more excited to reacquaint ourselves with the vampires that haunt the town of Santa Carla. For the uninitiated -- or fans who just can’t get enough of all things Lost Boys -- here's everything you need to know about the movie, from its story and characters, to how it gained a cult following, to its enduring legacy.
A SYNOPSIS OF THE LOST BOYS
The Lost Boys begins when newly divorced single mom Lucy (Dianne Wiest, fresh off an Oscar win for Hannah and Her Sisters) moves her two sons, Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim), to Santa Carla to live with her father, known only as Grandpa (Barnard Hughes). Santa Carla, a stand-in for the California beach town of Santa Cruz, is a non-stop party where the carefree days of summer never seem to end at the seaside boardwalk.
As Michael and Sam settle into their new home, Michael falls in with a mysterious gang, the titular Lost Boys, who have slightly more going on than the average teen rebel. Michael wants to fit in with the guys, especially their leader David, but his interest also has a lot to do with his attraction to the group’s lone Lost Girl, Star (Jami Gertz).
Meanwhile, Sam meets the Frog Brothers, Edgar (Corey Feldman) and Alan (Jamison Newlander). The Frog Brothers run their parents’ comic book shop and sell Sam on the value of brushing up on his vampire knowledge through horror comics. At the same time, Lucy is courted by Max (Edward Herrmann), a gentlemanly video store proprietor who ends up having much more in common with the Lost Boys than anyone expects.
Soon, Michael is a half-vampire, stuck somewhere between humanity and blood-sucking fiend. He discovers he’s no longer completely in control of his body. It ultimately falls to Sam and the Frog Brothers to take on the Lost Boys and save Michael.
HOW THE LOST BOYS GAINED A CULT FOLLOWING
The Lost Boys wasn’t the first time teen audiences were attracted to onscreen vampires. The supernatural soap opera Dark Shadows was a sensation in the 1960s. Legions of teen fans were enthralled by the vampire Barnabas Collins. Yet, Collins was a stuffy, aristocratic adult male vampire, the kind that had been popular since Bela Lugosi starred in 1931’s Dracula.
Then in 1976, Anne Rice's book Interview with the Vampire introduced audiences to a new type of vampire: the sexy blood-sucker, a magnetic creature who's preternaturally attractive and talented. The book ushered in an era of pretty vampires, leading the supernatural beings to become much more than figures of horror.
When The Lost Boys came out in 1987, it continued this tradition but with a new twist. The Lost Boys weren’t just pretty, they were teenagers. That left an opening for the film's teen audience to do more than simply watch the captivating creatures. Now, they could put themselves in the vampires' shoes and imagine becoming an eternally young and beautiful creature of the night.
The 1980s saw a surge in teen movies from The Breakfast Club to Say Anything… and The Lost Boys wasn’t the only movie to feature teenage vampires. However, it was the first to make being a teenage vampire look glamorous. Sure, Michael fights his fate, but David and his gang embrace their vampiric natures. As Herrmann observed, “[Schumacher] portrayed the Lost Boys as a combination of James Dean and Jack the Ripper. There’s both a romantic and a rebellious side to them.” It was that appealing combination of danger and romance in an attractive teen package that made these vampires so cool.
The movie had some other things going for it too. First of all, it wasn’t just a horror movie. It was also really funny. It moved back and forth between horror and comedy effortlessly, using wit to cut through the tension and spawning a plethora of quotable lines. It’s an approach audiences are used to today but was novel in 1987. On top of that, the movie featured a killer soundtrack which helped to elevate the movie. In particular, The Lost Boys’ sexy, somber theme “Cry Little Sister” by Gerard McMahon was the perfect fit for the movie’s heightened atmosphere.
THE LEGACY OF THE LOST BOYS
The legacy of The Lost Boys goes far beyond being the first movie to feature the “Two Coreys” (that would be the duo of Corey Haim and Corey Feldman). The film established sexy vampires as a pillar of teen pop culture. And since 1987, it remains a plot device that’s revisited again and again. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, and The Twilight Saga are all built off of tropes established by The Lost Boys.
The conflict between The Lost Boys’ Michael and David continues between Buffy’s Angel and Spike, The Vampire Diaries’ Stefan and Damon, and even True Blood's Bill and Eric -- vampires who fundamentally disagree on whether to reject or embrace their natures. Meanwhile, Buffy’s mix of comedy and supernatural drama, as well as its use of metaphor for the horrors of high school are patterned after The Lost Boys, whose story has been read as an allegory for the adolescent experience and drug addiction.
The Lost Boys established the idea that the cool movie teen could actually be a blood-sucking monster, and pop culture has been going back to that well ever since. An adaptation that expands and deepens the mythology of The Lost Boys will fit right into today’s pop culture landscape.
As it stands, the CW is currently re-tooling its Lost Boys pilot.