The Lost Boys: Special Edition DVD Review

Written by Eric Strauss

DVD released by Warner Brothers

Directed by Joel Schumacher
Written by Janice Fischer & James Jeremias and Jeffrey Boam
1987, Region 1 (NTSC), 97 minutes, Rated R
DVD released on August 10th, 2004

Starring:
Corey Feldman as Edgar Frog
Jami Gertz as Star
Corey Haim as Sam
Edward Herrmann as MaxBarnard Hughes as Grandpa
Jason Patric as Michael
Kiefer Sutherland as David
Dianne Wiest as Lucy

 

Review:

The Lost Boys holds a special place in my heart. I was 13 years old in 1988, when this modern-vampire film came out on video, and, for a horror fan growing up in the 1980s, this was a defining movie. My friends and I wanted to be the Lost Boys, these cool, menacing, devil-may-care teenagers with their long hair, leather jackets and souped-up dirt bikes. Just thinking about the film brings back a flood of memories.

But how does The Lost Boys hold up under the light of day, and maturity?

Surprisingly well.

Sure, the movie just reeks of the ’80s, from the feathered hair to the music to the garish clothes. But underneath its now-dated style, there is a story that holds up well.

That story belongs to the Emerson family, divorcée Lucy (Academy Award winner Dianne Wiest) and her two sons, Michael and Sam, who move to Santa Carla, California, the “murder capital of the world.” Once there, Michael (Jason Patric, Sleepers), the older boy, falls in love with the beautiful Star (Jami Gertz, Twister) and as a result, falls in with the ultimate bad crowd — a group of teenage vampires led by David (the magnificent and menacing Kiefer Sutherland, Dark City).

With Michael struggling to save his life and soul, kid brother Sam (Corey Haim, Silver Bullet) enlists the help of his local vampire killers, the equally young Frog brothers, Edgar (Corey Feldman, Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter) and Alan (Jamison Newlander), to save the day.

If you recognize a lot of those actors, there’s good reason. Though the youngsters were teens just starting their careers at the time, most have gone on to become recognizable names and faces in the entertainment business. And their potential shows throughout the film, giving it a quality that rises above the basic story and fairly low budget. In addition, the adults — including Wiest, Edward Herrmann as Lucy’s beau Max and Barnard Hughes (Tron) as her father — are all experienced, quality actors, providing strong support for the fledgling members of the cast.

Director Joel Schumacher, also at the beginning of a long and successful career, skillfully mixes suspense and dark humor as the film builds to a final, brutal confrontation between the Boys and their prey.

Another key is the screenplay, from writers Janice Fischer, James Jeremias and Jeffrey Boam. They create a believable family dynamic in the Emersons and memorable comic relief in the Frog brothers. 

Greg Cannom’s vampire effects, though rare, are bloody when they need to be and extremely well done. There isn’t much gore in the film, surprisingly, but what is there is spot-on as far as look. 

The Lost Boys was a groundbreaking film, creating a distinct style with its slick characters, underground sets and red-tinged look that echoes in horror films even today. But more than that, it is a terrific movie, well-written and well-executed by talented people eager to make a name for themselves.

And they did, which says all you need to know about the coolest horror movie of its decade.

Video and Audio:

The anamorphic widescreen video is quite impressive, given the age of the film. The picture is clear, colors are bright and blacks are solid. The image is soft in places, there is a good amount of print damage and some of the darkest and foggiest scenes give the digital transfer some trouble. But for a film that’s pushing 20 years old — has it been that long? — the video is very impressive.

If the film were from 2004 or even 1997, this would be a disappointment. But for a film from 1987, it is a pleasant surprise. Warner has done a nice job bringing out the quality.

The 5.1 surround track is fairly basic, but gets the job done. Dialogue is clear and proportionate to the music and effects. Surrounds are used mostly to give the music depth and the scarier scenes some atmosphere, but the few genuinely loud moments usually have the appropriate power.

There is also a French Dolby 2.0 track and English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Special Features:

The sole extra on the first disc of the two-disc special edition is an audio commentary with director Joel Schumacher. Though there are some dead spots in the solo effort, for the most part Schumacher is both entertaining and informative. He is obviously proud of this early effort in his career, and has plenty of praise for his actors and crew.

The second disc contains the rest of the bonus material, with the main extras being a trio of featurettes, led by the 25-minute “The Lost Boys: A Retrospective.” Filled with interviews with many of the main participants, it focuses on this small vampire film’s staying power. It is somewhat self-congratulatory, but deservedly so — if the participants are making any documentary made 17 years after their small film’s debut, they deserve to thump their chests. In the same vein (pun intended), “Inside the Vampire’s Cave” is an 18-minute featurette that uses the interviews to focus on Schumacher’s vision for and execution of the film. Finally, “Vamping Out: The Undead Creations of Greg Cannom,” is a 14-minute look at the vampire makeup.

Two more features are dubbed “The Return of Sam and the Frog Brothers.” The first is the ridiculously titled 5-minute “Haimster and Feldog: The Story of the 2 Coreys,” which features interviews about the two actors’ relationship. The second is a multi-angle video commentary on several scenes with Sam and the Frog brothers, featuring Haim, Feldman and Newlander, each on a separate “angle.”

A collection of deleted scenes, dubbed “The Lost Scenes,” mostly features development of the interaction between Michael, Sam and their mother and grandfather; more of the Max-Lucy relationship; and a more straightforward take on the movie’s MTV-style love scene between Michael and Star.

Among the smaller features, a lengthy photo gallery shows the various vampire makeup and effects used for the Boys. “A World of Vampires” is an interactive featurette telling the stories of various types of vampiric creatures and legends from around the globe. There is also a music video for Lou Gramm’s “Lost in the Shadows,” which looks every bit of its age, but is a nice nod to the film’s excellent ’80s soundtrack (which included two songs by INXS and Gerard McMann’s memorable “Cry Little Sister.”). The included theatrical trailer is also in poor condition and, frankly, not very enticing given the appeal of the film.

Grades:

Movie: 4 Stars – Sure, there is plenty of nostalgia and ’80s cheese involved, but this is a legitimately good film, with more than its share of deadpan laughs and drop-dead thrills.
Video: 4 Stars – Far from reference quality, but a serious improvement on the earlier DVD and any aging VHS version.
Audio: 3.5 Stars – A solid job, though nothing extraordinary.
Features: 5 Stars – An outstanding all-around package that focuses on the positive aspects of making what has proven to be a genre favorite.
Overall: 4.5 Stars – Although the children of the ’80s probably think most fondly of this film, this is a DVD set any horror fan can enjoy.

Conclusion:

The Lost Boys is anything but a traditional vampire tale. Taking its name from the children in “Peter Pan” who never grow old, it suggests being a bloodsucker could be the coolest way to live — unless your conscience gets in the way. Traditionalists may scoff at the modern take, but even they cannot deny the lasting popularity of this film. This excellent two-disc set, released 17 years after the movie’s debut, is evidence enough.

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