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June 15, 2011

Lost Boys Love (Guest Post by Marvin the Macabre of The Montana Mancave Massacre)

(Note from The Mike: Please give a hearty FMWL welcome to Marvin the Macabre of The Montana Mancave Massacre (BTW, I'm seriously in love with his blog title) who is today's guest host at FMWL.  Marvin's a horror fan who I can tell is cut from the same cloth as I, and I'm stoked that he's offered to help out at FMWL this week.  Read below for his passionate take on a true classic that he loves, and don't forget to head over to his Mancave for a monstrous multitude of posts dripping with mischievous madness!)
Most movies are just movies. You buy a ticket, pop in a disc, or fire it up on Netflix and have something to do for the next 90 minutes. You love it, you hate it, or you fall asleep to it, but at the end of the day it’s just a movie.

Then there are your favorites—the films you watch over and over, that become part of your everyday vocabulary. You might throw a quote from The Big Lebowski into a casual conversation just to see if someone will give you the correct response, identifying themselves as a kindred spirit. Lifelong friendships are founded on shared favorite movies. We define ourselves by our favorites, and advertise our tribal affiliations with t-shirts, bumper stickers, and tattoos etched into our flesh. These are the movies that matter to us, but usually they’re still just movies.

But sometimes a movie becomes more than just a movie. Sometimes a film changes your consciousness, weaves itself into the very fabric of your being. Usually we encounter these films in our youth, when we are still malleable and unjaded. They aren’t necessarily great films, or even good ones, but something about them fully captures our imagination and never lets go. Movies like these become integral to the narratives of who we are, and our life stories cannot be understood except within the context of these stories.

All of which is to say that I freakin’ LOVE The Lost Boys. It has long-since ceased to be a movie to me. It is my soulmate. It is where I want to go when I die. It is the substance and meaning of life itself.

So, as you can see, there’s no way I could review The Lost Boys as a movie. I mean, who could review the substance and meaning of life itself? Rather, this post is more akin to a love letter, or a psalm.

But since El Miguel has invited us here specifically to discuss films of the 1980’s, I’ll try as best I can to wipe the drool off my chin and examine it in that context. As timeless as it may seem to me, when I step outside myself, I can see how The Lost Boys is most certainly an artifact from another era.

Max: “Wild kids.”

Lucy: “Oh, they’re just young. We were that age too once. But they dress better.”
I sometimes wonder how hilarious that line sounds to a new generation. A teenager today (or one from ten years ago, honestly) might bust out laughing at the display of mullets, butt-rock locks, and loud, schizophrenic patches sewn onto black leather jackets. But that’s just it: I can only wonder how hilarious it sounds, because to me, the vampires of the Lost Boys are the very definition of cool.
It helps, of course, that I first experienced this movie at the tender age of twelve. My sister was three years older and in love with horror movies. I, on the other hand, had been traumatized by early exposure to The Exorcist, and was literally afraid of the bookshelf where she kept her Steven King novels. My sister had seen The Lost Boys at the theater, and rented the video as soon as it came out. For whatever reason, rather than retreat to the basement to watch it, she wanted the whole family to watch with her. I adamantly protested. “It’s not even scary,” she countered, “It’s mostly just really cool.” My parents were like, “Whatever,” so she popped in the tape and changed my life forever.

From the first scene on the carousel, I was mesmerized. I loved the seedy atmosphere of the carnival; the colors, all tinged with a reddish light; the strange, exotic style of the carnival-goers so different from anyone you’d see in Montana. And yes, I loved the mullets, the butt-rock locks, and the schizophrenic leather jackets. No one can rock a mullet like Kiefer Sutherland.

And it wasn’t scary, not really. I was completely blown away by the gore of the Surf Nazi slaughter, but not frightened. The vamped-out Lost Boys with their inhuman eyes and blood-smeared faces looked vicious as Hell, but I wasn’t scared. It was a rush, one that I would soon be utterly addicted to.
The next day, I hooked up our VHS camcorder up to the VCR and made a bootleg copy of the film. For a 4 or 5 month period, I watched it 2 to 3 times a week. If I didn’t have time to watch the whole thing, I would fast forward to the Surf Nazi slaughter and watch until the end. I showed it to all of my friends. We were still young enough to indulge in a little imaginative play, so we’d make our own arsenal of wooden stakes and holy water pistols and play vampire hunters. To this day, I can watch The Lost Boys at any time, no matter what mood I’m in, and just get completely lost in that world. There is nothing I don’t like about this film.

The Lost Boys is the ultimate teenage fantasy. You move to a new town to find it has a permanent carnival on the beach where there are rock concerts every night and the streets are teeming with young people at an endless party. You meet a hot girl who introduces you to a gang of super-cool, leather-clad bikers whose clubhouse is a luxury hotel that sank underground during an earthquake. Then, to top it off, you get the opportunity to fly, to stay eternally young and hot, and to rip the mohawked scalps off of surf punks with your teeth. Sign me the Hell up!
As cool as the vampires are, our hero is in every way their equal. It is utterly beyond my comprehension that Jason Patric isn’t a bigger star: he consistently gives fantastic performances, he’s intensely good-looking, and he’s a world-class brooder. He’s also my one true man-crush, proving my suspicions that Joel Schumacher made the film as a gay recruitment tool.

Speaking of which, I love that Corey Haim’s character, Sam, is so obviously gay. It’s never mentioned, but all the clues are there, from the poster in his room of a provocatively-posed Rob Lowe, to his flamboyant fashion sense (and “Born to Shop” T-shirt). I’ll admit that back in the day, I didn’t pick up on it. In the eighties you didn’t make one of your main protagonists gay. It just wasn’t done. So you could say that The Lost Boys was ahead of its time in this respect. It also makes for an amusing counterweight to the hyper-masculine, all-American Frog Brothers, who make their only kill while Marco is asleep. Meanwhile, Sam is the one who goes all Rambo, delivering “death by stereo” to Dwayne* via bow and arrow.

*Dwayne’s name is never mentioned in the film and I only knew it because I read my sister’s copy of the novelization. I wish I’d kept that.

While the joy of watching the Lost Boys in adulthood is in re-experiencing the feeling of youthful exuberance, I think my favorite character is Grandpa, an eccentric old lawyer-turned-hippie taxidermist who delivers the single greatest punchline ending to any film ever: “One thing about living in Santa Carla I never could stomach: all the damned vampires.”

How can you tell when you’re truly in love with a movie? When you write 1,300 words about it and realize you haven’t scratched the surface of everything you wanted to say. So to wrap this up: I credit The Lost Boys with beginning my lifelong love of horror movies. It helped me face my fears and to see the beauty in the dark side of life. And in junior high, it inspired me to grow a mullet of my very own. Like I said, no one can rock a mullet like Kiefer Sutherland. Particularly not me.

(Note from The Mike: 1) I totally agree that the punchline from Grandpa is the coolest thing ever. 2) One of the rules of FMWL, akin to "Nobody Gets Outta Here Without Singin' The Blues" in Adventures in Babysitting, is that any mention of The Lost Boys requires Tim Capello, AKA THE SAXOPHONE GUY FROM THE LOST BOYS!  So, here he is.  Thanks much Marvin!)

8 comments:

Syrin said...

Nice tribute! I'll admit I only originally watched The Lost Boys because of Alex Winter's appearance, and I remember being very upset when he was killed off. I've been meaning to revisit it for awhile now, and this post has made me want to do that sooner rather than later.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Joel Schumacher is a director who always leaves me strangely unsatisfied, no matter how good I can admit I found the movie--but The Lost Boys is definitely my favourite in his ouvre and the only one I could watch over and over.

A "gay recruitment tool," aye? ;-) LOL! And all this time I thought that The Lost Boys subtext was nothing more profound than drug addiction. Yeah, I should have seen it earlier, but I didn't . . . and now that I do, it does add an amazing new dimension to the film!

My own favourite line from this film is: "It's that girl from the boardwalk. Is she one of them? . . . She's one of them! And don't tell me it doesn't make her a bad person, Mike!"

It's not as pithy or as quotable as Grandpa's line, sure--but it's actually my favourite vampire-related quote of all time. There's a deep philosophical question there, you know: Does being a vampire automatically make one a bad person?

Great guest post, Marvin! =D

Banned In Queensland said...

The Lost Boys was totally awesome well before people ever actually said “totally awesome”. It’s one of my all-time favourite movies, but I often overlook it when discussing my favourite horror movies because I don’t tend to think of it as one. As you say, it’s not scary, it’s just impossibly cool.

One notable omission in your “love letter” is any reference to how fantastic the soundtrack is. “Cry Little Sister” still gives me goose bumps when I hear it. “I Still Believe” is the most kick-rectum saxophone recording ever made. “People Are Strange”, “Lost In The Shadows”, “Good Times”… is it not the best film soundtrack ever?

BTW - My favourite Grandpa line (explaining to Sam that he doesn’t have a TV): “I just like to read the TV guide. Read the TV guide, you don't need a TV”. Cracks me up every time.

Marvin the Macabre said...

Syrin,
Glad I could inspire you to take another look. Let me know if you do a write-up of it on your site.

Enbrethiliel,
I agree completely about Schumaker. And you can only be a half-vampire and remain a good person. Once you've killed, well, maybe you can't be a good person, but you can be a damned good vampire.

BIQ,
Doh! I really meant to mention the music, and even went as far as making a screen cap of the sax man (a big thank you to The Mike for supplying Tim Capello's name, I've always just refered to him as Butrok the Barbarian). "Cry Little Sister" always gets me too.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Marvin, I think you could write a whole other post just on the moral dimensions that come into play when there is a transitional/shadow state between human and vampire: another great plot point from The Lost Boys! I doubt there are many other movies with "half-vampires" in them--and even if there are, would they be this awesome? (Answer: No!)

The Mike said...

I completely agree with Mr. In Queensland - The Lost Boys may have invented Totally Awesome.

This is an awesome tribute, Marvin. And I'm more than happy to provide the Tim Capello love!

profollica said...

Hahah.. The Lost Boys are so crazy to watch.. The Lost Boys was totally awesome well before people ever actually said “totally awesome”. It’s one of my all-time favourite movies, but I often overlook it when discussing my favourite horror movies because I don’t tend to think of it as one. As you say, it’s a little bit scary, it’s just impossibly cool.

MTGrace said...

Marvin, your love of this movie makes me have to take it off my shelf and watch it again. This time, I'll be sure to watch for the gay references.