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Film / The Lost Boys

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"One thing about living in Santa Carla I never could stomach. All the damn vampires."

The Lost Boys is a 1987 vampire movie with all the trimmings, directed by Joel Schumacher and starring Jason Patric, Corey Haim, Kiefer Sutherland, Dianne Wiest, Alex Winter, and a few other people, including Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander as the Frog brothers.

Recently divorced mother Lucy Emerson (Wiest) and her two sons move to Santa Carla, California. Older son Michael (Patric) soon falls in with a gang of bikers led by David Powers (Sutherland), all of whom turn out to be vampires, while his kid brother Sam (Haim) befriends a couple of seemingly insane comic store assistants obsessed with hunting vampires (not that they've ever met one before). After sharing a mysterious drink with David, Michael begins turning into a vampire, and it is up to Sam, with the help of the Frog brothers, to save him.

Followed no less than twenty-one years later by a Direct to Video sequel, Lost Boys: The Tribe. Chris Emerson, a young disgraced former surfing pro, and his younger sister Nicole move to Luna Bay to live with their aunt following the death of their parents. Nicole falls for the enigmatic Shane Powers, another former pro-surfer who "mysteriously vanished" from the circuit. Turns out, it was because he became a vampire. Shane turns Nicole into a vampire, and Chris sets out to save her. Oh, and he enlists the help of Edgar Frog. The movie stars Autumn Reeser, Tad Hilgenbrink, Angus Sutherland, and Corey Feldman, with Corey Haim returning as Sam Emerson in a mid-credits cameo and two alternate endings, and Jamison Newlander returning as a now-vampiric Alan Frog in the alternate endings.

A second Direct-to-Video sequel, Lost Boys: The Thirst, was released in 2010. Vampire-romance novelist Gwen needs Edgar Frog to find her brother, who went missing after getting sucked into a series of underground raves called 'X Parties', held by an enigmatic spinner named DJ X. In a last, frantic message, he mentioned being given a new party drug known as the Thirst, which Edgar identifies as really being vampire blood. With the next X Party only days away, Edgar is faced with the threat of an army of vampires unless he can stop DJ X and save Peter — but DJ X isn't just a vampire, he's the Alpha Vampire, the ultimate head vampire, and someone Edgar's going to need help to defeat. Edgar hopes to recruit his reclusive brother, who's dealing with his own dark past. The movie stars Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander as the Frog brothers, and Tanit Phoenix.

There is also a four-issue comic book series, Lost Boys: Reign of Frogs. Published by Wildstorm, the series is set between the first two films and explains why Edgar is working alone by the time The Tribe starts and how Shane became a vampire, as well as the fate of several other characters from the films, some of whom are never mentioned in The Tribe. Another comicbook series called The Lost Girl was published by Vertigo in 2016, being the closest adaptation of Joel Schumacher's plans for a never-realised Lost Girls sequel.

A TV series adaptation was in the works at The CW for the 2018 season, but has wallowed in Development Hell. Helmed by Rob Thomas, it would be an anthology series with each season set during a different decade. As of 2024, a musical adaptation is in the works.

These films contain examples of:

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    The Lost Boys 
  • '80s Hair: Especially on the Lost Boys, who all have glorious hair-metal-inspired mullets and long hair, but the hair on practically everyone in the film screams 80s from a mile away.
  • An Aesop: Peer Pressure Makes You Evil. Don't give in.
  • Angry Guard Dog: Nanook is a lovable pooch who doesn't like vampires. Max's dog Thorn also counts as a more literal version of this trope.
  • Asshole Victim: The vampire gang try to get Michael to make his first kill by bringing him along as they attack and feed upon a group of skinheads, presumably in the hopes that this trope might make it easier for him to give in to his growing thirst.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: The film both plays this straight and subverts it. Out of all of the vampires, Star is the only one who never puts on her Game Face, and she is a good character. However, Michael and Laddie do show their vampire faces, but they're not bad either, and the Lost Boys are all easy on the eyes when not in Game Face.
  • Bittersweet Ending: On the sweet side the heroes have managed to kill all of David's gang along with Max, the head vampire, and restored both Michael and Star to normal. But on the bitter side as Grandpa reveals to the others, those weren't the only vampires in Santa Carla.
  • Celebrity Paradox: In Max's video store, there's a single copy of The Goonies, which also starred Corey Feldman.
  • Crapsack World: Santa Carla, a California town so packed with undead that it's the murder capital of the world.
  • Creepy Child: Laddie is the cutest kid you've ever seen... until he vamps out.
  • Dead Man's Switch: Whenever a vampire is killed they trigger a "Death Curse" where the environment around them becomes extremely dangerous, often leading to fires and explosions.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Edgar and Allen have (some of) the right ideas when it comes to vampire slaying, but they tend to fall apart at the execution phase.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Nanook can sense something is wrong with Michael, and whenever David and his vampire gang show up outside the Emersons' house on their loud motorcycles, he always gets up and barks.
  • Fanservice: Michael and the titular "lost boys" are all very easy on the eyes.
  • Face on a Milk Carton: Laddie is prominently featured on one.
  • Feral Vampires: One of the Trope Makers. Instead of being glamorous aristocrats, the vampires are portrayed as nomadic hoodlums.
  • Final Solution: Kill the head vampire, and all the half-vampires who haven't killed anyone yet return to normal.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Sam with Edgar and Allen.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The merry-go-round sequence foreshadows the order in which the Lost Boys die. Marko dies first, Paul second, Dwayne third, and David last.
    • At the beginning of the film, David and his gang show up at the video store Max is working it, only to uncharacteristically back off when Max remarks that he told the boys to stay away from his store. As it turns out, Max is the head vampire in charge of them, reframing his words as a direct order.
  • Hell Hotel: The Lost Boys' base of operations is the underground remains of a hotel that was swallowed up by the earth during the 1906 earthquake.
    David: In 1906, when the big one hit San Francisco, the ground opened up, and this place took a header, right into the crack. So now it’s ours.
  • Heroic Dog: Nanook the husky, who does a lot more than "help a little." He even kills one of the vampires himself by tackling him into the holy water-filled bathtub.
  • Literary Allusion Title: The film is titled after the companions of Peter Pan, who remained forever young.
    • Also the fact that Max wanted Lucy to be the mother figure to his boys, just as Peter wanted Wendy to be the mother figure to his.
  • Make-Out Point: This is a favorite hunting ground for the vampires, and their lair appears to be located directly beneath one.
  • Music Video Syndrome: Music and surreal images overlap in a number of scenes. Word of God in the commentary notes that this type of storytelling would not have been possible before music videos. invoked
  • No Communities Were Harmed: The film was shot in Santa Cruz, California. The boardwalk features prominently, and the comic shop and both houses were actual locations in the city. In fact, the town was going to be called Santa Cruz in the film until the city council, at the last minute, got cold feet over the town being portrayed as "The Murder Capital of the World" and asked the producers to change the name, fearing that it would hurt the tourism business in the town. It didn't help that, in The '70s, Santa Cruz had been the scene of a couple of serial killing rampages, as well as a Manson-like mass murder of a family.
  • Novelization: Due to his past fantasy novels and horror short stories, Craig Shaw Gardner was given a copy of the script and asked to write a novelization to accompany the film's release. At the time, Gardner was, like the Frog Brothers, managing a comic book store as well as writing. The novelization 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 collector 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 also includes several tidbits of vampire lore, such as not being able to cross running water and salt sticking to their forms, and some characterization missing from the film.
  • Once an Episode: A vampire recites some version of the quote at the top of the page in each of the sequels.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Along with Near Dark, this movie rewrote the book on vampires, in the same way An American Werewolf in London and The Howling (1981) (also both in the same year) rewrote the book on werewolves. Notably, while they have many of the folkloric strengths and weaknesses (even sleeping in native soil is alluded to, with the vampires' lair described as "one big coffin"), the one they play with the most is the "invitation". Vampires can enter a residence uninvited, but if you do invite them, you lose all power over them while inside, including attempting to exploit any weaknesses vampires naturally have such as the lack of reflection.
  • Peer Pressure Makes You Evil: Gang initiations that make you a vampire.
  • Rewatch Bonus:
    • Many scenes take on a new meaning after Max is revealed to be the head vampire.
    • A small one: Michael has an earring when he comes home, which he did not yet have when last we saw him falling from the bridge after the Lost Boys, implying that there was much more to that night than we saw onscreen.
  • Sexophone: "I Still Believe" by the shirtless, oiled-up Tim Capello plays on at the concert as Michael stares at his love interest Star.
  • Sexy Sax Man: The famous scene of a shirtless, oiled-up Tim Cappello playing the sax at a concert. Fans even call him by the trope name!
  • Shirtless Scene: When Tim Cappello sings "I Still Believe."
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Holy shit! It's the attack of Eddie Munster!"
    • When Max reveals his plan, Edgar responds by describing it as "The Bloodsucking Brady Bunch".
    • There's an Echo & the Bunnymen poster in Sam's bedroom — they sung The Doors' song "People Are Strange" in the opening montage. There's also a giant poster of The Doors' frontman Jim Morrison in the vampire's lair.
    • According to the writers, the character name of Lucy was chosen to reflect Lucy Westenra from Dracula.
    • The whole movie, down to the title, is a subtle Shout-Out to Peter Pan, with vampiric immortality being equated to Neverland and Max recruiting Lucy to be a "mother" to the Lost Boys. As in the story, Wendy rejects that life.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Run–D.M.C. and Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" plays over the scene where Michael witnesses the campfire massacre that takes place as David and his gang of vampires slaughter a group of skinheads partying around a bonfire.
  • Trashcan Bonfire: Several of these are scattered throughout the Hell Hotel.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Santa Carla: blue skies, lovely beaches, theme park on a board walk, active night life, great music culture, and swarming with murderous vampires. As the graffiti on the back of the sign says, it's the murder capital of the world.
  • Undead Child: Laddie looks to be about eleven years old.
  • Undeath Is Cheap: This trope provides a way for Michael to get to do a cool vampire fight scene while still allowing him (along with Star and Laddie) to become human again at the end of the movie.
  • Vampire Monarch: According to legend, if you kill a "head vampire", all the half-vampires turned by him or by vampires under his command are restored to human form. This fails when the protagonists kill David — because Max is the head vampire.
  • Vampire Procreation Limit: A person becomes a half-vampire by drinking a vampire's blood, but won't become a full vampire until they drink human blood (the desire to do so being increasingly difficult to resist over time).
  • Vampire Refugee: Star, Laddie, and Michael.
  • Wham Line: After defeating David and the rest of the vampires, Vamp!Michael and half-vampire Star come to the horrifying realization that they're still not turned back to normal, even after supposedly killing off the head vampire. Then Max arrives, sadly looking at David, and drops this line:
    Max: It was all going to be so perfect, Lucy. Just like one big, happy family. Your boys... and my boys.
    Edgar Frog: A bloodsucking Brady Bunch!
    Max: (faces the heroes, now morphed into his true vampire form) But I still want you, Lucy. I haven't changed my mind about that!
  • Xanatos Gambit: David's plot for Michael is agreeable regardless of its outcome: if Michael falls to vampirism, the Lost Boys add another monster to their gang; if his humanity prevails, Star will kill him to complete her own transformation, and David will be down one romantic rival.

    The comics 
  • All There in the Manual: The comic series Lost Boys: The Reign of Frogs is this in spades, clearing up several loose ends from the first film, and revealing some of the backstory to The Tribe. Some of the ideas in the comic (such as Alan becoming a half-vampire, and someone drinking animal blood to avoid becoming a full vampire) are also used in The Thirst.
    • Sam's Grandpa is really a half-vampire, and only feeds on animals to stay that way. The reason he didn't return to normal at the end of the film like Michael, Star, and Laddie is because the Widow Johnson (never seen in the first movie) sired him, not Max.
    • Michael and Star are dead, having died in a car crash. While never explicitly stated, it's heavily implied that this means that Chris and Nicole from The Tribe are their children, due to their last name also being Emerson and that it's mentioned that their parents died in a car crash. Possibly retconned in The Thirst — some of Edgar and Alan's dialogue implies that Michael and Star aren't dead.
    • David sired Shane, back in 1987, and Shane created the Tribe because David had the Lost Boys.
    • The reason Edgar works alone is that when he, Alan, Sam, and Grandpa Emerson went after the Widow Johnson, the raid went badly. Grandpa was killed and Alan was forced to drink vampire blood, thus becoming a half-vampire. Retconned in The ThirstAlan and Edgar went after a half-vampire senator, and in the chaos Alan was forced to drink blood. The Emersons weren't involved.

    The Tribe 
  • Adults Are Useless:
    • Subverted, but only because Edgar Frog returns from the first film and is now an adult.
    • Played straighter by Chris and Nicole's aunt. She's unaware of the vampires, and thinks that they're just taking advantage of not having their parents around by partying all night. Even when she walks in on them at the very end, covered in blood, she assumes that they've just come back from a party and have gotten stoned. The police, meanwhile, are flat out afraid to deal with Shane's gang, despite being unaware that they're vampires.
  • Big Bad: Shane Powers is the vampire behind it all.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Edgar Frog shows up to save the day at one point.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Twenty minutes into the movie, Chris and Nicole are discussing whether to attend Shane's party until Aunt Jillian approaches, wielding a copy of The Goonies, which features Corey Feldman.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: When Chris is finally able to convince Nicole that she's a half-vampire (simply by holding up a mirror to demonstrate that vampires don't have reflections), Nicole freaks and admits she's more disturbed by the fact that she tried to eat someone, given that she's a vegetarian.
  • Fake Defector / The Mole: Edgar has Chris agree to take Shane's blood and become a half-vampire so that he can find out where their lair is.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • Nicole attempting to seduce a boy crushing on her comes off very aggressive and predatory as she's a half-vampire and desperately attempting to drink his blood.
    • The same woman from the party attempting to bite Chris, disrobed, and getting impaled through her chest with deer trophy antlers.
  • Fanservice:
    • The sex scene with Nicole and Shane.
    • Chris's shower with another party-goer.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice:
    • One of Shane's mooks is impaled on a working jackhammer.
    • Chris fights off a female vampire who attempts to bite him by accidentally impaling her through the chest on a deer head trophy.
  • Jump Scare: Shane's gang announce their vampire status to a group of unsuspecting humans jokingly around a campfire, and then all hell breaks loose the second time they say it.
    Vampire: Oh, but seriously... (eyes glow dark, voice deepens) WE'RE VAMPIRES!!! (bites a woman in the neck)
  • Police Are Useless: They're terrified of Shane's gang, for good reason.
  • Shower of Love: Chris shares one with a female party-goer before realizing something is wrong with Nicole and leaves to check on her.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Shane has more or less the same personality as David did in the original film. What's more, Shane's actor is Angus Sutherland, half-brother of Kiefer Sutherland, who played David.
  • Unusual Euphemism: How Edgar tells Chris that Nicole's a half-vampire.
    Edgar Frog: Your sister's a suck monkey!
  • Vampire Refugee: Nicole and Chris.

    The Thirst