Jesse Bullington and I have (perhaps foolishly) decided to embark upon a quest: watching “classic” adventure movies that informed one or both of our childhoods. We’ll be posting one every Friday. . . at least, that’s the goal.

This week we’re postponing our scheduled review of Conan the Destroyer to mourn the passing of Corey Haim. To that end, this week’s choice should be obvious. Unfortunately, both Dream A Little Dream 2 and Prayer of the Rollerboys were checked out from the video store, so we’re going to make do with The Lost Boys instead.

The Film: The Lost Boys (1987)

Also known asThe Main Thing Corey Haim Will Be Remembered For (2010)

WHOSE RESPONSIBLE THIS??? Story by Janice Fischer and James Jeremias, who didn’t ever really do anything else, and direction by Joel Shumacher who, unfortunately for caped crusader fans, did—Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. Helping Fischer and Jeremias with the screenplay was Jeffrey Boam, who worked on The Adventures of Briscoe County, Jr. and some other fun stuff. Soundtrack by Lou Gramm, INXS, Roger Daltry, Echo and the Bunnymen, Run DMC, and more—in large part covering other artist’s songs to painful results. Oh, and grating theme song (“Cry Little Sister”) repeated ad nauseam courtesy of Gerard McMahon. Thanks, guy. Acting (insert lame vampire “suck” joke here) by the Coreys, Kiefer Sutherland, the Keanu fill-in from Speed 2 (Jason Patric), the mom from Edward Scissorhands (Dianne Wiest), the dad from the Gilmore Girls (Edward Herrmann), and Bill S. Preston, Esquire (Alex Winter).

Quote: “My own brother—a goddamn shit-sucking vampire!”

Alternate quote: “Death by stereo.”

Random Frog Quote: “If you try to stop us, or vamp out in any way, I’ll stake you without even thinking twice about it!”

Random Quote That Molly’s Husband John Blurted Out During Kiefer’s Death Scene: “I Just killed a beautiful monster, but I loved him like a brother.”

First viewing by Molly: 2005, I think, at longtime friends Randy and Maria’s house.

First viewing by Jesse: As a kid? I know, I know, descriptive.

Most recent viewing by both: Last night.

Impact on Molly’s childhood development: None. Literally, and not in the sense of the word where it means figuratively. I was not aware this movie even existed until college, when (if memory serves) my dear friend Brad came into my dorm room before the annual Halloween party in torn jeans, an acid-washed denim jacket with the sleeves cut off, and some other horrifying clothing with his hair teased out and fake vampire teeth. I asked, “what the fuck are you supposed to be?” (or something like, knowing me). He responded, baffled, “a lost boy!” “From Peter Pan?” I asked, further confused by the vampire teeth. He looked at me, and with the patience of one explaining to the cat why he shouldn’t scratch the couch, said, “you know, from the movie? The Lost Boys?” I had no idea what he was talking about.

Impact on Jesse’s childhood development: Moderate. I dug the Frog Brothers, of course, and loved me some Kiefer and Haim, but I saw Near Dark before I ever saw this and so my 80s vampire heart belongs to Lance Henriksen and crew. Plus, Jenny Wright > Jami Gertz to adolescent Jesse like whoa.

Random youtube clip that hasn’t been taken down for copyright infringement:

Molly’s thoughts prior to re-watching: When I saw this at Randy and Maria’s house, I was pretty (very) drunk on wine and my contacts had dried out, so I didn’t remember much except blinking. I recall thinking it was OK but nowhere near as good as the Buffy the Vampire Slayer film, which I owned on VHS until very recently.

Jesse’s thoughts prior to re-watching: I hadn’t re-watched this since high school, thinking some films are better left as fond memories. This whole project is predicated on smashing that conceit and dragging the dated movies of our youth squealing into the caustic light of the present day, however, and if they burn up like a bleach blond bloodsucker, well, no one said it would be easy. I went into the re-watch confident that the Frog Brothers would still be awesome but not sure of anything else.  After all, low expectations never hurt a movie-watching experience, though often that’s just not enough to save it (see: Red Sonja).

I also wondered if Haim’s recent passing would incline me toward a more charitable estimation of his performance. Would Haim be another casualty of my baffling youthful fondness for blond leads with suspect acting abilities, or would he prove to be an accomplished thespian on the level of an Emilio Estevez or a Kiefer Sutherland?

Molly’s thoughts post-viewing: Sometimes, if you don’t have childhood affection for a film, there’s only so much you can love about it as a grown up. I’m going to come right out and say that I fucking hated The Goonies, which I saw for the first time in college. Dick and fart jokes have never really been my thing (and thus my love of Robot Chicken is nigh inexplicable), and ugh, you know what? Lest I alienate everyone on the internet around my age by pooping on The Goonies, I’ll stick to the topic at hand: The Lost Boys.

One thing I will say: I unabashedly love the sort of bizarre nonchalance everyone feels toward vampires in this film. The Frog Brothers’ “whatevs” attitude, Corey Haim’s willingness to accept his brother’s transformation into some sort of supernatural being, the fact that the grandfather knew all along. . . what? No attempt is made to give a larger picture of the world this film occurs in—are there vampires in other cities? Werewolves? Banshees?—and thus characters’ reactions are often baffling.

Also: Diane Wiest. She is among my favorite actresses of all times, and watching her sweet sincerity made me really happy. She’s every bit as good in this as she is in Footloose, Edward Scissorhands, Law and Order, The Purple Rose of Cairo, and, um, Practical Magic. Edward Herrmann also classes up the film tremendously, as he generally does, and the both of them are just so young! I also enjoyed Corey Feldman’s acting tremendously, and the zany grandfather.

I really wanted this movie to rule big-time, but it fell a little short for me. It was awesome, but not quite as awesome as I would’ve liked it to be. I think it was the high concentration of down-time in the film: montages, scenes with nothing happening that are just “local color” shots while entire songs play in the background, that interminably long sex scene, etc. It just needed to be shorter or have more happening. The “be shorter” issue is frightening, as well, if you make the mistake of watching the deleted scenes, of which there are an alarming number. I just wish I’d seen it as a kid, when the ‘tude and the bath scene with Mr. Haim might’ve had a bigger impact.

Jesse’s thoughts post-viewing: Holy mother of shit, the ape drapes in this movie are out of control! I thought Red Sonja had the lock on unapologetically heinous cinematic mullets but Alex Winter’s alone is so far entrenched in trash culture that it’s a wonder he ever crawled out of the 80s. Oh wait. . .

While The Lost Boys hasn’t aged with anything resembling grace or taste it is, at least, not Red Sonja. This is enough for me to be grateful. It is also better than Conan the Destroyer, and by dint of preventing me from having to spend any amount of time thinking about that movie today I am further obliged to it. There’s an undeniable charm to the film, even if said charm only affects people already susceptible to the debatably dubious appeal of John Hughes films, Oingo Boingo, and/or swatches. If the future generations ever pose the question “what were the years between 1979 and 1990 like?” this film will be the perfect answer, containing as it does amusement park rides, boardwalks, the Coreys, a brat packer or two, partying, and montages, montages, montages.

Stacking this against other 80s vampire films it comes in just behind Fright Night and Near Dark but way, wayyyyy ahead of Once Bitten and most of the other offerings.  I can already hear the clamoring of indignation that I would put Fright Night ahead of the Lost Boys, but I’m going to come down on the side of Chris Sarandon and Roddy Mac every time. For one thing the homoerotic undertones are much more pronounced in Fright Night, which is crucial for an 80s vampire movie, and for another there’s the first 20 seconds of the following clip, which is one of the best things in the history of the universe:

High Points: The Frog Brothers 4-eva. The vampire deaths, which are messy and varied—both assets. The lame jokes. The pure vintage 1987 look of the film, from the hair to the costumes to the hair again, because that shit is intense. As I mentioned above, the Kentucky waterfalls splash down many a denim jacket-gilded shoulder in this picture and must be seen to be believed. Fortunately, a devoted fan of Alex Winter’s character Marko has put together a compilation for us that, while focusing on one bemulleted nosferatu in particular, it gives us a glimpse at the treasure trove of bad hair that is The Lost Boys:

Low Points: Shumacher’s Montage Fever. “Cry Little Sister”—why won’t it stoppppppp?!?! The endless family bonding. Jason Patric and Jami Gertz’s “sex” scene. Depending on one’s sense of humor, the hair and fashion and lame jokes could be applied here as well.

Final Verdict: Corey, you will be missed.

Next Week: We really will do Conan the Destroyer.