Every day, Watch This offers staff recommendations inspired by a new movie coming out that week. The release of M. Night Shyamalan's latest film, After Earth, has us thinking back on good movies from often-maligned directors.
The Lost Boys (1987)
Joel Schumacher’s habit of botching movies hadn’t fully blossomed in 1987, when he married the soapy teen drama of his St. Elmo’s Fire with big-haired horror in The Lost Boys. Tapping a potent vein of adolescent angst that’s amplified by all sorts of vampire-cliché cheesiness, Schumacher’s film follows teen Jason Patric as he, divorced mom Dianne Wiest, and younger brother Corey Haim set up residence in the seaside California town of Santa Clara. There, while trolling the boardwalk, Patric swoons for hottie Jami Gertz and falls in with her nominal boyfriend, a hilariously mulleted badass (Kiefer Sutherland, all eyebrows and toothy grins) and his gang of bikers, who turn out to be bloodsuckers. With hormones raging, Patric opts to join the undead crew, even as Haim—who, like every other character in this movie, loves to address his brother by name—is schooled in the ways of vampire murder by two comic-book nerds, the Frog brothers (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander).
Patric is such a wimpy wannabe-Dracula that he won’t even feed on neo-Nazis, but as far as films that equate vampirism with puberty go, The Lost Boys thrives courtesy of its exaggerated earnestness and embrace of cornball conventions, right up to a final twist that’s telegraphed from the outset. Amid its brooding and bloodletting, the film’s portrait of youth as a series of tests of manhood—most involving protecting one’s clan from internal and external threats—remains compelling thanks in large part to Schumacher’s sleek direction, which locates a well-pitched tone of semi-seriousness that co-mingles melodrama and the macabre in a vigorous faux-lurid manner. That it also features both Coreys in their Teen Beat prime doesn’t hurt the humor factor either, nor do lead performances from Patric, Gertz, and Sutherland that are equally overheated, as well as a story that—in keeping with fellow ’80s touchstones like Sixteen Candles and Some Kind Of Wonderful—predictably concludes that women find animalistic sexuality far less attractive than sensitive soulfulness.
Availability: DVD and Blu-ray, rental or purchase from the major digital providers, and disc delivery from Netflix.