The Lost Boys review – a bloody, ingenious reflection on youth

Joel Schumacher’s vampire romp endures for its wonderfully grown-up treatment of being young

This sprightly and satirical 80s spin on JM Barrie’s “lost boys” from director Joel Schumacher is now rereleased in UK cinemas. Screenwriter Jeffrey Boam was reportedly drafted in to sex’n’goth up a story that was originally much more innocently Peter Pan-ish, and yet this version probably has more to say about the concept of staying for ever young.

The film is certainly an amazing time capsule for the 80s and arguably one of the great 80s kids-heroism movies, to put alongside ET: The Extra Terrestrial and The Goonies. Teenager Michael (Jason Patric) and his kid brother, Sam (Corey Haim), are arriving in a new town – the fictional Californian coastal resort of Santa Carla – with their mother, Lucy (Dianne Wiest), following her divorce, staying with their crusty old grandpa (Barnard Hughes). On the boardwalk, Michael becomes fascinated with a beautiful girl, Star (Jami Gertz), who hangs out with a weird and charismatic biker gang led by David (Kiefer Sutherland).

Why is it David and his freaky buddies only come out at night? Sam learns the truth from a couple of local comic-book specialists and vampirologists, Corey (Corey Feldman) and Alan (Jamison Newlander), but his mother isn’t much help, having fallen for a sweet local guy, Max (Ed Herrman).

Ingeniously, the movie apportions the Peter Pan persona partly to the younger, innocent Sam and partly to the older and less innocent Michael, whose flirtation with the dark side comes when he has sex with Star. Sam’s vampire-hunters and Michael’s vampires are rival sets of opposite “lost boys” – one fighting for good and the other for evil, although it is not too late for Michael to return to the light. In fact, the undead lost boys are more like the pirates, with David their own sleek Captain Hook.

The Lost Boys, in its artless way, asks us to consider that being for ever young isn’t a sweet Edwardian evocation of innocence, but a vision of pure hell, like vampirism.

• The Lost Boys is rereleased in the UK on 14 February.

Contributor

Peter Bradshaw

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Killer Kate! review – squabbling sisters unite in a bloody gorefest
A pre-wedding party at a remote cabin is invaded by a gang of weirdly incompetent attackers in this ingenious comedy-horror

Peter Bradshaw

15, Aug, 2019 @6:00 AM

Article image
Extra Ordinary review – devilishly funny exorcism horror
A driving instructor with a gift for banishing demons comes to the aid of a troubled widower in this horribly enjoyable tale

Peter Bradshaw

06, Nov, 2019 @4:00 PM

Article image
Gremlins review – Spielbergian satire still has bite
Like some evil twin of its producer’s earlier film ET, this sharp and wacky 1984 kids’ horror movie makes fun of American materialism and Christmastime commercialism

Peter Bradshaw

06, Dec, 2019 @2:00 PM

Article image
Chained for Life review – clever comedy-horror toys with reality
Set in a strange and mysterious hospital, this amiably ingenious drama constantly wrong-foots the audience

Leslie Felperin

24, Oct, 2019 @5:30 AM

Article image
In Fabric review – haunted red dress zips in from another dimension
Set in an unearthly department store, Peter Strickland’s bizarre ghost story is utterly unlike anything else around

Peter Bradshaw

27, Jun, 2019 @10:00 AM

Article image
Why Don't You Just Die! review – ingenious drama with hints of Tarantino
This smart, stylish and gory debut by Russia’s Kirill Sokolov follows the twists and violence that ensue when a hammer-wielding man turns up at the door

Peter Bradshaw

15, Apr, 2020 @4:00 PM

Article image
Black Bear review – Aubrey Plaza hits career high in ingenious meta-movie
Social tensions spiral towards disaster before a cryptic rug-pull in this strange comedy gem

Peter Bradshaw

22, Apr, 2021 @12:00 PM

Article image
The 50 best films of 2019 in the UK: the full list
Our pick of the year’s top movies released in the UK reveals the end of an era, painful breakups, festive families, horrors both real and imagined, and heroes of many kinds

20, Dec, 2019 @9:36 AM

Article image
Old Boys review – schoolboy Cyrano has lessons to learn
Alex Lawther is forced to help a sports jock’s pursuit of the French teacher’s daughter in this awkward spin on the Cyrano de Bergerac story

Peter Bradshaw

21, Feb, 2019 @1:00 PM

Article image
Censor review – disturbing descent into video nastiness
A woman working as a film censor in the 80s is shocked to discover a horror movie that recreates a traumatic incident from her childhood

Peter Bradshaw

29, Jan, 2021 @6:33 AM