The Lost Boys (1987): The Magic of Boy Sees Girl
The Lost Boys is a horror comedy with a mostly all teenage cast about a pair of brothers who move to a new town and end up fighting vampires. It became a massive box office hit and is considered an iconic film of the 1980s. Plus, the two Coreys!
I happen to like vampire movies, even if, for mysterious reasons mortal man can’t fathom on this plane of existence, they’ve become hijacked by teenage angst flicks. That said, and fully aware of the possible repercussions a statement I’m about to make might incite, I never liked The Lost Boys. It always felt a little too glib, a little too self-aware, a little too hokey, and while I’m certain at least three of those issues are exactly the filmmaker’s intent, it just lacks bite for me. Yes, that’s a vampire pun. And yet, I continue to watch it every few years or so simply because it taps into that gland in your brain that becomes stimulated by watching hopelessly empty-calorie entertainment. That’s a real gland by the way. How else can I explain binge watching Jean-Claude Van Damme movies as often as I do? Curse you, Double Impact!
Either way, no matter how you feel about The Lost Boys, or vampires, or even the two Coreys, there’s no denying its (double) impact. Directed by Joel Schumacher, whose career has yet to stumble across the meaning of “restraint,” the film actually has a number of impressive visual moments, with some clearly-defined and engaging storytelling amid the other excesses of the film director’s style. But moving on.
Recently, while watching The Lost Boys again, I got struck by an early scene that for reasons I’ll explain in a minute, kinda got past me before, and that’s when Michael (Jason Patric) and his little brother Sam (Corey Haim), who have just moved to Santa Carla, California, are out cruising the city’s hip and with-it Boardwalk scene, ending up at a musical side show that seems to have attracted every wound-up young person in five counties. There’s screaming kids in big hair and acid-washed denim as far as the eye can see. The boys cozy up next to one of many scattered fire-raging, burning barrels among the gyrating throngs because 1980’s Santa Carla city council was straight up like, fire codes? Phffft.
On stage is Tim Cappello. I could stop right here and walk away, just like that. This post is a wrap because you insert those two words into any conversation and that conversation is won. (Conversations are competitive, right?) If by some force of dark magic, you are not aware of what a Tim Cappello is, I hereby grant you the gift. It is all things wondrous:
And now, I no longer need to further explain why this moment I want to discuss got missed in previous viewings. Seriously, once your eyes get sucked into a Tim Cappello vortex, there’s little hope of escaping. In fact, I’m sure at this point you already have another browser tab open and are fighting the urge to read this or just spend the next hour ogling Sexy Sax Man videos. I can’t really blame you. I find it’s best not to resist.
Somehow I managed to pry my stare away and be taken in by perhaps, unsurprisingly, another glittery treasure of the era, miss Jami Gertz. A staple of the teen movie scene at the time, Gertz was the dream girl in a number classic 80s movies, and here, she is arguably at her most Gertzy. A ravishing raven-haired temptress, she slinks her way into this moment with the subtlety of a Steven Seagal judo chop, separating the crowd as if Moses himself was on a nearby peak commanding it so. Many take notice, including Michael, who has a head of hair not so different from her, interestingly enough.
Gertz, playing a girl named Star, makes her way toward the boys and then right past them, taking a position a bit higher up to get a better look at Cappello because, duh. Alone, she begins to put a little swivel in her hips and a swing in them arms, and a toss of that hair, and a jut of that chest, and in her bright white shoulderless top, stands out like a mega-watt beacon in a sea of grunge-y pastels and weapons-grade feathered hair. And Michael being, you know, alive, is hopelessly done in. From his post by the fire, he looks back and simply melts.
Eventually, she notices him, catching sight of his smoldering please-let-me-put-my-hands-one-any-part-of-you stare. Sam, seeing his brother not watching Cappello, panics and tries to get him back to following the
occult show because frankly, it’s already too late for Sam. But Michael’s not having it. Star outshines even an oiled-up, musclebound, hip-kicking, pony-tailed saxophone player because that’s some serious Gertzness going on. The two share a teasing smile before she runs off into the crowd behind her.
Now, putting aside the rest of the story, this little moment is really, really good. Without a single line of dialogue, the scene is a marvel of exposition, the way it should be, as we are simply witness to the natural attraction that these two young people instantly feel. There is great significance in the massive crowd, who are all facing one way and rhythmically in-step with each other as Star suddenly plows effortlessly through them in the opposite direction, out of sync with rest of the world and all the better for it. As her name suggests, she rises above them and shines luminescent, then reveals to Michael, and us, how wonderful it is that sometimes, a person–even one we’ve never met yet–is wholly like no other, just for an instant, physically shaking our foundations. Even Cappello’s chorus of “I still believe”, echoing over the moment layers nicely atop the sentiment. It’s a great moment. Watch it again.