Vampires are pretty much everywhere these days, with the “Twilight” franchise and TV’s “The Vampire Diaries” gripping the imagination of teen audiences the world over. In part, it’s because of the element of sexuality inherent in vampires, something that’s been present ever since the archetype was born in Bram Stoker‘s “Dracula.” But the idea of vampires appealing to teens, now something worth billions of dollars, can be traced directly back to one film: Joel Schumacher‘s 1987 film “The Lost Boys.”
The film follows Michael and Sam Emerson (Jason Patric and Corey Haim), who move to the coastal town of Santa Clara, only for Michael to fall in with a local gang who, as it turns out, are a vicious group of vampires, led by David (Kiefer Sutherland), and Sam must team with local vampire hunters Edgar and Alan Frog (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander) to save his brother from becoming one of the undead. With its of-the-moment soundtrack, MTV-style visuals and quote-unquote sexy vampires, the film became a big hit, and paved the way from everything from “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” to Edward and Bella. The film was released 25 years ago this week, on July 31, 1987, and to commemorate the occasion, we thought we’d take a look at five facts you might not know about Schumacher’s seminal sleepover horror/comedy. Read on below.
1. The film started off as a “Goonies”-style adventure aimed at children.
Given that it’s a film that involves characters melting in a bath full of garlic, flooding a house with a blood, and exploding after being electrocuted, it’s near-impossible to imagine “Lost Boys” as anything other than R-rated. But in fact, the original conception of the film was as a G-rated family adventure movie, similar in spirit to “The Goonies” (which had been a big hit two years earlier). Inspired by the notion of Peter Pan as a vampire (hence the title), the original script by writers Janice Fischer and James Jeremias (neither of whom ever had major credit after the film), had characters named after those found in J.M Barrie‘s book, including Michael and John, and their Wendy. The Frog Brothers were vampires, 5th and 6th grade boys who were “chubby 8-year-old Cub Scouts,” and the character of Star was another boy, rather than a love interest. When writer Jeffrey Boam (“Straight Time,” “Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade“) came on at the behest of director Joel Schumacher, he changed from what Schumacher described as “a sort of a cutesy, ‘G’-rated movie aimed at young kids” to the teen-friendly picture we ended up with.
2. The film was originally lined up for director Richard Donner, and music video helmer Mary Lambert also had the job for a time.
Given “The Goonies” comparisons, it may not be a great surprise to learn that that film’s director, Richard Donner, was the first name attached to the project. The “Superman” helmer had set the film up at Warner Bros. in its original family-friendly incarnation, but the studio offered him a script for a cop action movie by a young writer named Shane Black entitled “Lethal Weapon,” and Donner became enamored by it, dropping the kid-friendly picture for something a little more adult (although he retained an executive producer credit). Next on board, albeit briefly, was music video director Mary Lambert, who’d been responsible for early Madonna promos including “Like A Virgin,” “Material Girl” and “Like A Prayer,” as well as clips for Annie Lennox, Motley Crue and Tom Tom Club, among others. However, she fell out swiftly, for unknown reasons, and ended up making her debut the same year with “Siesta,” starring Ellen Barkin and Gabriel Byrne. Her greatest success came with the 1989 Stephen King adaptation “Pet Sematary,” and she was last seen directing 2011’s “Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid“… After Lambert exited, Joel Schumacher, who’d had a recent hit with “St. Elmo’s Fire” (which he pays tribute to with a poster of Rob Lowe on screen at one stage) joined — Lauren Shuler Donner, Richard Donner’s wife, had produced that film.
3. The film marked the return of Oscar-nominated “Raging Bull” DoP Michael Chapman after a four-year absence.
It might surprise cinephiles, when watching the credits to “The Lost Boys,” to see the name of cinematographer Michael Chapman, given the long list of prestigious credits the DoP had stacked up. Chapman started out as a camera operator on films like “The Godfather” and “Jaws,” before making his debut as cinematographer on Hal Ashby‘s “The Last Detail.” He went on to work with Martin Scorsese three times, on “Taxi Driver,” “The Last Waltz” and “Raging Bull,” the latter of which earned him an Oscar nomination (shockingly, he lost the prize to Roman Polanski‘s “Tess“), and also had credits on James Toback’s “Fingers,” Philip Kaufman‘s “Invasion Of The Body Snatchers,” Paul Schrader‘s “Hardcore” and Robert Towne’s “Personal Best.” But after two films for director Carl Reiner (“Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid” and “The Man With Two Brains“) Chapman went off to become a director, later saying “Everybody should direct at least once, if only to get it out of their system.” He made his directorial debut with the Tom Cruise vehicle “All The Right Moves,” and followed it up with the less successful 1986 Darryl Hannah film “The Cave Of The Clan Bear.” After that film flopped badly, Chapman looked to return to cinematography, and as a fan of vampire movies, chose “The Lost Boys” as his return. And based on this interview, he seems a little ambivalent about the film, but does say, “It’s quite a stylish, slightly comedic movie, and Joel Schumacher’s most heartfelt film.” He’d go on to pick up one more Oscar nomination, for “The Fugitive,” and retired from the camera after 2007’s “Bridge To Terabitha.”
4. Schumacher landed a number of bands for the soundtrack by promising to direct music videos for them.
Like many films of its era, “The Lost Boys” is fondly thought of in part thanks to its seminal soundtrack, which features a number of key covers and original tracks by big 1980s bands. Roger Daltrey took on the appropriately-named Elton John song “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me,” Tim Capello covered The Call‘s “I Still Believe,” INXS and Jimmy Barnes duetted on “Good Times” by 1960s Australian band The Easybeats and Echo & The Bunnymen took The Doors‘ “People Are Strange.” The score was by Thomas Newman and Lou Gramm, the lead singer of Foreigner, contributed theme song “Lost In The Shadows (The Lost Boys).” But the film’s music budget wasn’t enormous, and in order to land INXS (who contributed a second track to the film as well) and Gramm, Schumacher promised to direct music videos for both bands. The director made good on one of those promises, helming the video for INXS’s “Devil Inside” the following year, but as far as we can tell, never worked with Foreigner. There are also a few songs in the film that never featured on the released soundtrack: Run DMC & Aerosmith‘s seminal “Walk This Way,” “Ain’t Got No Home” by bluesman Clarence “Frogman” Henry and The Rascals‘ “Groovin'”
5. Schumacher tried to develop his own sequel entitled “The Lost Girls.”
In the last few years, Warner Bros. cashed in on the ever-growing “Lost Boys” cult with a pair of direct-to-video sequels, 2008’s “Lost Boys: The Tribe” (which brought back Corey Feldman and, in a cameo, Corey Haim), and 2010’s “Lost Boys: The Thirst,” which sees Jamison Newlander return as Alan Frog. Neither, it will fail to surprise you, are very good. But nearly a decade earlier, Joel Schumacher announced he’d come up with a deal for a sequel, entitled “The Lost Girls,” which he would produce, with a new director being sought at the time. Indeed, Schumacher is on record as saying that Sutherland’s character David (who we never see explode or dissolve) was intended to return in a follow-up, surviving his impaling at the film’s conclusion (a 2008 comic book, “The Lost Boys; Reign Of Frogs” picks up his story). A script, reportedly by original co-writer Jeffrey Boam, has been doing the rounds on the internet for a while, but it reads like fan-fiction to us (even if it’s decently written). But the film never got off the ground, and Warners proceeded with a sequel, infuriating Schumacher. The director said in 2007 ” ”I told them to do ‘Lost Girls’ and not do ‘Lost Boys Sequel.’ There is no ‘Lost Boys’ sequel. All the boys are dead. The Coreys are too old. So what would be the movie? You’d have to make up a whole new set of characters. I told them to do ‘Lost Girls.’ It’d be great. I said, ‘Do gorgeous teenage biker chicks who are vampires. It’ll be great.’ But they don’t listen to me.”