Those words, from a young Kiefer Sutherland in “The Lost Boys,” just might sum up our collective fascination with vampires. After all, not many of us dream about turning into bats and spreading communicable diseases, but we’ve all wondered what it would be like to live forever.
The film’s title was inspired by the Lost Boys of “Peter Pan,” flying little troublemakers who never grew up. This timeless, ’80s time capsule (Cory Haim may sport the worst run of ’80s shirts in cinema history) frames the traditional vampire story in a world of teen peer pressure and beach boardwalk hippies. The twist that makes this film a touchstone is the idea that these vampires don’t just live forever, they stay young forever.
Youth has been on my mind lately. I’m writing this on the night of my birthday. I’m not going to reveal my age, because, well, it kinda sucks. Think of the “Lord Voldemort” of ages. It’s around there. In fact, back when the movie premiered in 1987, I was just a skosh younger than “The Two Coreys,” Haim (Sam) and Feldman (Edgar Frog). But back then — and I know this will enrage the majority of you reading this, but stay with me — I wasn’t really a fan of “The Lost Boys.”
Which is weird because the film has so many elements in my wheelhouse. It has comic book nerds fighting vampires. It co-starred Jamie Gertz, the Bizarro Ally Sheedy. And it’s a film by Joel Schumacher, who directed “St. Elmo’s Fire” and every “Batman” film where the Dark Knight had nipples. But here’s my alibi: I must’ve watched “The Lost Boys” a dozen times – but only in bits and pieces on cable. I never actually watched the movie from beginning to end.
So I bought the Blu-ray (yes, I still buy physical media. I’m old.) and a few things struck me. Sutherland is magnetic, underplaying the punk rock vampire, David, to perfection. You can see why the film launched his career. Ditto for the “Two Coreys.” This was their first team-up and that chemistry spawned more than a half dozen movies (of debatable quality). The film even features a yolked out dude playing a sax (Rob Lowe also rocked a sax in Schumacher’s “St. Elmo’s Fire.”). It was weird. And I was converted.
But the film is truly unique in the way it fuses two disparate tones: horror and comedy. The dark story of Michael’s (Jason Patric) descent into demonhood has no business being in the same film as Sam’s comedic misadventures with the Frog Brothers. But that’s what makes this film such a genre-buster. The only popular movie in the ballpark is “An American Werewolf in London,” another film that stands alone. And I’ll bet that without “The Lost Boys” there would be no “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” And no “Buffy” means no Joss Whedon. And that’s just terrifying.
I would be remiss not to mention the tragic death of Haim in 2010. Like I said, he was about my age, which really hit home. Yes, we all grow old. But at least Haim won’t. On the screen, in the dark of the theatre, he’ll never age. He’ll never die. He’ll stay young and lost forever.
As for me, my birthday night is winding down and I’ve come to a realization. Yes, I still love vampire flicks, comic books and movies about high school, but I personally don’t want to be young forever.
I’m just too old for that.
“The Lost Boys” screens on Wednesday, Sept. 18, at 7 and 10:00 p.m., at Ward Consolidated Theatres as part of the Hana Hou Picture Show.
“The Lost Boys” nerd trivia:
• Richard Donner (“Superman” “The Goonies”) was supposed to direct “The Lost Boys” but he ended up handing the project over to Schumacher. Donner moved on to direct ‘Lethal Weapon.”
• This was Sutherland’s second US film after “Stand By Me.” Keifer is the son of actor Donald Sutherland who played Merrick in 1992’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
• Schumacher explains that costume designer, Susan Becker, wanted to make Haim’s Sam a “mall fashion victim.”
• Schumacher urged Feldman to study Sylvester Stallone’s “Rambo” as a basis for Edgar Frog’s character.
• Edgar and Allan Frog got their names from Edgar Allen Poe.
Movie posters courtesy of MVNP