The Lost Boys (Special Edition)

Sleep all day. Party all night. Never grow old. Never die. Never have your voice change, or grow out of puberty so you eternally have that ugly acne scarring your face… It’s fun to be a vampire. The Lost Boys was one of the first films to take a unique approach to vampires. Instead of having their vampires as stuffy counts in evening dress, producer Richard Donner and director Joel Schumacher took a peter pan approach, creating a teenage rock band style vampire – a vampire that was more then just a creature of the night, one that would never grow up and flaunted it. Those vampires were exactly what Sam and Michael Emerson (Corey Haim and Jason Patric) would come up against in The Lost Boys.

The two brothers had some issues about moving to Santa Carla as part of their mother’s (Dianne Wiest) attempt at building a new life after her divorce. The people in Santa Carla are strange, and that includes Sam and Michael’s grandfather (Barnard Hughes) and the odd Frog Brothers, Alan (Jamison Newlander) and Edgar (Corey Feldman). But none are stranger then the gang led by David (Kiefer Sutherland), a mulleted band of brothers who would look as comfortable at a rock concert as they do roaming the boardwalk of Santa Carla. Michael encounters the gang as he pursues a mysterious girl (Jami Gertz) and before common sense kicks in, he’s in an initiation that starts him down the path to becoming a vampire like David and the others.

The performances in The Lost Boys are a thing of beauty. Disregard the fact that there is no depth to any of the characters whatsoever. None of them have a deep underlying motivation for anything. What you see on the surface is completely what the character has to offer. That said, the movie is a shining example of having the perfect actor at the time in the perfect part, creating a fantastic cast across the board. You even get good performances from actors I usually can’t stand like Corey Haim, Jamie Gertz, or Dianne Wiest (yes, I know she’s an Academy Award winning actress, but so is Kim Basinger and I don’t care for her either). The standout performances really come from the actors who have less screen time – Corey Feldman has the fake machismo down pat as Edgar Frog. I grew up with so many kids who were like the Frog brothers; it’s eerie how much he reminds me of all of those kids. Barnard Hughes gets four or five moments to really shine as grandpa, but his closing line that ends the movie is one of the most remembered. Edward Herrmann will always be Max to me, the only character that is an exception to what I said about having an ulterior motive. Once you’ve seen the whole movie you gain a new appreciation for Herrmann’s acting on subsequent viewings. Of course, the king of the movie is Kiefer Sutherland. Hot off of Stand By Me, this was Kiefer’s defining villain role. He may have been mean as Ace, and his future performance in Flatliners was dark as well, but Sutherland’s vampire is an absolute work of art. Everything from his look to his delivery is polished and vile.

Almost twenty years later, The Lost Boys has proven to be a classic. The movie has really held up well despite the passage of time. The effects still look great compared to modern day standards and the story itself is no worse for wear. The characters could even fit in today, with the exception of Corey Haim’s rather queer Sam – I mean really, who wore those clothes in the ‘80s, much less today? The Lost Boys themselves could easily be part of the modern day Goth movement, as long as they restyled their vampirous mullets. The look and feel of the movie created by Joel Schumacher could easily compete and prove better then many of today’s vampire movies, and that’s why its popularity remains. Even though it’s not exclusively a “horror movie”, if you ask people what their favorite vampire flick is I’d lay odds most people would have The Lost Boys come quickly to mind. This is not The Lost Boys first venture onto DVD, however it is the first time they’ve gotten a decent release. With this Special Edition we finally get a director’s commentary, a music video, several featurettes, and the “return of Sam and the Frog brothers”. It’s unfortunate that the final product seems to be the result of an exec somewhere dreaming up what fans would love to see, and then draining that of all interest and excitement.

First off, all of the featurettes on the DVD are composed from the same interviews with a limited amount of the cast and crew of the movie. Basically someone went out and interviewed Kiefer Sutherland, Edward Herrmann, Joel Schumacher, Jamison Newlander, and the two Coreys and then made five or six featurettes from that material, intercut with music and footage from the movie. The result is no matter what subject we’re watching a featurette on, we see the same faces with the same backgrounds talking about something they took part in almost twenty years ago. That’s fine for the “Retrospective Documentary” part, but don’t you have any behind the scenes footage filmed when the movie was actually being made? Asking someone to remember details of a project from that long ago can sometimes be neat, but here it’s just painful. I can understand someone like Corey Haim holding onto details of this project like it was oxygen in outer space – after all, that was the height of his (thankfully) now declined popularity. But Kiefer Sutherland, Edward Herrmann, and Joel Schumacher have moved on and had lots of other projects since then. With all of the material in the featurettes being retrospective, the result is a very dry, uninteresting view as cast and crew carefully select their words trying to remember the past.

“The Return of Sam and the Frog Brothers” was probably the part of the DVD I was looking forward to most. The three characters made up most of the “fun” moments of the movie, even if they were made up of “the two Coreys”. I was looking forward to a reunion. Unfortunately, a reunion is not what we get.

The “Return” section is made up of two items. The first is a short featurette on “Haimster and Feldog, the Two Coreys” which gives a bit of the history of the two Coreys working together from their perspective. Personally, even in the height of their popularity I never heard the nicknames “Haimster and Feldog” and quite frankly I’d be happy never to hear them again, and as we would be led to believe from the featurette, they’d rather not hear it again either, except for the fact that Haim brings the nicknames to our attention. (Dude – your 15 minutes have been over for years. Let go of the past. At least Feldman has managed to find some life after the ‘80s.) The second segment is a “Multi-Angle Video Commentary” and is the biggest disappointment I’ve ever had on a DVD. All of the scenes with Sam and the Frog Brothers have been taken out of the movie and shown here along with a window of whoever’s commenting on the scene. But each “angle” of the commentary is a different actor! Angle One: Haim commenting on the scene. Angle Two: Feldman commenting on the scene. Angle Three… well, you get the gist. There’s no “Return of Sam and the Frog Brothers”. Instead you get a “Return of Feldman, Return of Haim, Return of Newlander”. What’s worse is all three of them give the absolute worst kind of commentary. There’s no insight into the scene, just “Hey, there’s me”, or,”Wow, I looked cool.” At any given time one of the three has shut up, so switching angles results in just watching the scenes yanked out of the film. This is a travesty on film extras. At least put the three of them in the same room. Better yet put them in the same room and let them know the last man standing will get a role in an upcoming movie. This is worse then advertising the return of Elvis and carting his rotting corpse up on a stage.

The rest of the extras fare no better. A dry semi-interactive feature gives you a brief history on vampire lore around the world, but it’s very truncated and presented by an extremely bored voice. A music video for “Lost in the Shadows” shows why the song never got much play on video channels in the ‘80s. A photo gallery shows before/after makeup shots of most of the vampires and includes several versions of Max’s makeup that were never used. Unlike the typical photo gallery where you navigate using your remote’s buttons, the pictures are timed to change every 7 or 8 seconds, which seems very slow. Luckily you can use your track advance buttons to override this (they don’t tell you this on the disk, you have to figure it out) and scan through the photos at a much more reasonable pace. Finally there’s a director’s commentary by Joel Schumacher, which gives some interesting tidbits here or there, if you can stay awake through it. This isn’t the Schumacher who made this movie, full of energy and life. This is a reminder of the Schumacher who made Batman & Robin, an older tired man who has trouble keeping his thoughts on track.

Just the new digital transfer of The Lost Boys was enough of an excuse to buy this set, but for a special edition that could brag a lot of features, the set really isn’t worth much of a look beyond the movie itself. It just goes to show that having the extras isn’t enough, you have to actually put content into the extras to make them worth anyone’s time.