Everyone knows The Lost Boys is a great vampire movie. When people think of it, their first thought is of Kiefer Sutherland’s terrifying, blood-sucking punk David, then of Corey Feldman and Corey Haim teaming up to battle the vampires plaguing their town. And all of that is great, but to me, it’s not what makes the film so special.
To me, The Lost Boys speaks with a very specific, very cool brand of nostalgia. It’s filled with the kind of subtle, yet impactful touches that have long been driven into my heart like a nice, sharp stake. So here, on its 30th anniversary, are 12 things I love about The Lost Boys that have nothing to do with vampires.
The Lost Boys is set in the fictional town of Santa Carla, California, a town on the Pacific Ocean complete with a boardwalk and amusement park. As someone who grew up hours from the Jersey Shore and frequently went there on vacation as a kid, the fact these characters lived right next to such a park would have been a dream come true for me. It was on-screen wish-fulfillment, and instantly sucked me into the movie when I first saw it; when I watch it today, all I want to do is ride that roller coaster.
Being an ‘80s movie, it’s pretty obvious the clothes are going to be very specific and dated. The Lost Boys is no exception, but even beyond the ‘80s-ness the outfits are hilarious and awesome. Sam (Corey Haim) wears every bright, pastel color imaginable including a long, white striped duster coat. He even rocks a “Born to Shop” t-shirt later in the movie. Max (Edward Herrmann) is more into popped collars, high shoulders, and lots of checkered material. Michael’s (Jason Patric) purchase of a leather jacket is meant to be rebellious and the Frog Brothers (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander), well, they made Army chic look badass.
After its deadly cold open, The Lost Boys begins with a montage of unique looking people set to Echo and the Bunnymen’s cover of “People Are Strange” by the Doors. It’s an incredible scene that doesn’t really have much to do with the story of the movie. Instead, it instantly proclaims this is going to be a weird movie, with an eclectic cast of characters and places. It also sets the film’s sinister (but still kid-friendly) tone. If you first encountered the song through the film, I bet you can’t hear it now and not think of The Lost Boys. The two are forever intertwined.
Early in the film, Sam and Michael go to a concert on the beach. The lead singer of the band, referred to as “Beach Concert Star” in the credits, is an extremely buff, tan, shirtless guy with a ponytail, draped in chains. In modern pop culture terms, he’s kind of WWE legend Triple H with the face of South Park co-creator Matt Stone. But his song, “I Still Believe,” his enthusiasm, and his sweet, sexy, extremely sweaty saxophone playing can never be forgotten. Is it cheesy? Totally. But you also just want to fucking rock on with him.
I worked at a video store for almost the entirety of my teen years. The same video store, in fact, that I literally called every single hour the day The Lost Boys came to VHS. (I didn’t see it in theaters but was obsessed with seeing it, so I kept calling until they got it delivered.) That was years earlier than me working there, of course, but the fact a film I forever link with VHS tapes has scenes in a video store is just impossibly geeky and nostalgic.
Growing up, I was very into collecting comics. And while I’d seen comic books and comic book characters on screen before, when I saw The Lost Boys, I was stunned to see comic book collecting acknowledged. Immediately I was hooked. Sam comes into the Frog Brothers’ store, drops knowledge about Superman comics, says he’s got a very rare Batman #14, and is given some very important vampire comics. I loved these comic book discussions between Sam and the Frog brothers so much that my friends and I would role-play them in my backyard (yes, instead of the film’s action scenes).
This is a super specific thing but it always resonated with me. The ‘80s was the height of the BMX craze. Even if you weren’t a serious rider you probably had or wanted a cool BMX bike. And if you got one, you could either have spokes, mags, or covers on the wheels. Covers were the “cool” option though they were totally impractical if you actually wanted to ride a bike. Anyway, in The Lost Boys, a few of the vampires drive motorcycles with wheel covers on them, as if these immortal punk rocks vampires really wanted to be riding BMX bikes instead. As ridiculous as it was, it was very cool to me as a kid, and I still love it now.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve collected movie posters. If there’s an article about a cool movie poster on io9, it was almost certainly written by me. I used to have posters on every single surface in my bedroom, including the ceiling. So it was formative to see that Sam was kind of similar. He’s got a poster of Molly Ringwald from The Breakfast Club, a very sultry one of Rob Lowe, and the movie Reform School Girls. None of those were posters I’d put on my wall, but I totally related to the fandom.
You can’t have a good ‘80s action movie without a montage scene, and The Lost Boys has two. Neither is particularly long, but they’re set to the same piece of music and feature Sam and the Frog Brothers preparing to enter the vampire cave, and then getting ready to protect Michael and Sam’s house. The parallelism is fantastic, and the score used for them will always, always pump you up.
Nanook is Sam’s dog in The Lost Boys, and he’s arguably the star of the movie. He defends his owner, he fights vampires, and he looks dope as hell the whole time. Plus, I always found it touching that Sam’s relationship with Nanook was so powerful and imperative.
Before The Lost Boys, I don’t remember seeing kids fight vampires with water guns. Maybe it happened before (it’s definitely happened since), but it was such a cool way to make kids feel like they could also be heroes, especially since virtually every kid of the ‘80s owned a water gun or three. Add some holy water, and they became deadly weapons. If you watched The Lost Boys as a kid and didn’t run around shooting imaginary vampires with your water gun for months, what is wrong with you?
“Cry Little Sister” by Gerard McMahon was written for The Lost Boys and plays in the film several times. It’s a beautiful, ethereal piece of music that gives the film an importance—a weight that makes it feel like much more than some cheesy kids’ movie or vampire flick. The way the song is used repeatedly throughout the film underscores its emotional power. To this day, it instantly brings back all of my memories of this amazing, 30-year-old movie.