It was the summer of 1987. Horror movies had just gone through a recent splatter craze, and it seemed as though the genre might be dead, at least for a while. Then Joel Schumacher delivered his little low-budget vampire film The Lost Boys. While the movie didn’t exactly tear things up at the box office, the film developed quite a strong cult following and had earned pretty high praise from the folks within the horror community. The movie was fresh and was just the kick in the pants that the sequel-weary crowd was looking for. The movie was dark but managed to provide a camp atmosphere at times that worked as a wonderful counterbalance to the blood and guts that was a necessary ingredient, particularly at that time. It was a breakout role for the young Kiefer Sutherland, who was moving out of the shadows of his iconic father and into his own. With this film and the critically acclaimed Stand By Me just a year before, Sutherland was able to arrive on the scene without riding his father’s coattails. The two very different roles also allowed him to stretch those thespian muscles quite a bit. The Lost Boys captured teenage angst in a far more thrilling and realistic manner and combined it with vampires and humor. And while it dealt with very similar themes, this was no Twilight.
Among the most memorable performances to come out of that original film were those of Corey Haim and Corey Feldman. Haim would play the innocent kid just moving to a small town that happened to be infested with vampires. Feldman played Edgar Frog, a local comic-and-horror-lore geek who was aware of the vampire problem and saw himself as a modern-day Van Helsing, fighting the bloodsuckers whenever he encountered them. The two Coreys, as they would go on to be known, had wonderful chemistry and stole the film right out from under the adult cast and the evil doings of the teenaged vampire clan led by Sutherland. The two ended up doing several films together before having a somewhat public falling out.
Over the years there had always been talk of continuing The Lost Boys as a franchise. Several scripts were floated over that time. There was even a Lost Girls project in the works for a few years. Always, for one reason or another, the ideas would fade away. Everything from a television series to new motion pictures would enter the rumor mills over those years. Finally, in 2008 a follow-up film made it to the direct to video pathway. While Corey Feldman returned as Edgar Frog, Haim had only a small role as Sam. The film dealt with the return of his siblings and a new encounter with vampires. The film received a lukewarm reception and was in the discount racks before you could say bloodsucker.
Not content with how the franchise was laid to rest, Feldman himself began leading the charge to resurrect the story and bring it back to the roots of the original. The result is the current third entry in The Lost Boys series: The Thirst. Of course, there was no chance to bring back the relationship between the Two Coreys. Haim died last March after a long fight with drug addiction. He was so broke that his funeral was paid for through internet donations.
Edgar Frog (Feldman) is now broke and alone. Creditors are knocking on his doors to take whatever he has left. He has to sell his precious comic book collection just to stay on his feet. He’s approached by Gwen Lieber (Phoenix). Gwen writes a series of vampire novels called Eternal Kiss. You’ve got it. It’s Twilight. She wants to hire him for his vampire-killing services. She explains that her brother disappeared after going to a rave put on by the famous DJ X (Castang). It turns out that vampires are using the raves to distribute a new designer drug called The Thirst. It’s made from vampire blood and is part of a plan to assemble a new undead army. Of course, Edgar performs the obligatory decline of the job. Apparently, heroes are required to play hard to get. But, his conscience and memories of his dead friend Sam (Haim) haunt him into agreeing to do the job. Edgar puts together a team to go after the Alpha Vampire and put an end to the evil plan. On board is Zoe (Dolan), a shy girl who works at the comic store and already knows about vampires, much to Edgar’s surprise. His brother Alan (Newland) who is also a vampire these days and the reality television team of Lars (Niekerk) and his cameraman Claus (Vaz) who he is forced by Gwen to work with. Together they invade a rave being put on at a remote island. There are a few twists and turns as the team attempt to free the world with maximum vampire carnage.
There is an obvious attempt to pull on the heartstrings of the fans here. The movie includes plenty of clips featuring Corey Haim from the first movie provided as pangs of guilt in Edgar’s conscience. The movie also plays up the amateur aspect of Edgar’s fighting. You get quite a few jury-rigged weapons. There’s a rapid-fire grenade launcher that uses capsules containing holy water and garlic juice (for good measure). There are ultraviolet stun lights. You gotta love a double-barreled holy water balloon launcher. Finally, there’s a machine gun that propels small wooden stake projectiles. Edgar still has those Rambo fantasies in his dress and one-liners. The addition of Casey Dolan as Zoe is actually a pretty good one. She fits in just perfectly. She’s also the center of a potential sequel in the final frames of the movie.
The movie was shot on an obvious limited budget. The shooting takes place in South Africa, which doesn’t do a very good job of looking like Southern California. It all looks a little too barren at times. The lighting is almost always a bit dark. I guess that can be forgiven in a vampire film. But the weakest link in this film is the budget. The money wasn’t as well spent as it could have been. There aren’t a ton of action moments. The climax is actually pretty cool, but it too feels abridged. The set design was just too cost-conscious. It’s a hard movie to really embrace. It has the feeling of a television movie, not a direct to DVD piece. It’s worth a rent just to see what’s up with Edgar Frog these days, but it quickly descends into a curiosity with little repeat viewing power.
The Lost Boys: The Thirst is presented in its original widescreen aspect ratio. The production design is quite drab. That makes this a very empty-looking image presentation. Everything looks rather drab. Don’t expect a lot of color here. There is a bit of compression artifact to deal with, and that doesn’t help the poor black levels at all.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 allows you to hear the dialog, but there’s little else to excite your ears in this one. The music cues are too eclectic and don’t always fit the picture at all. The audio presentation is mostly unimaginative.
Charisma Carpenter Hosts – The Art Of Seduction – Vampire Lore: (12:19) Buffy and Angel star Carpenter hosts a discussion on why we love vampires. You’ve seen and heard it all before. I’m a bit disappointed in Carpenter herself, who appears to be reading every word.
The original Lost Boys this just ain’t. That doesn’t mean that it’s not entertaining and even charming at times. One of the problems with this film is that it has just enough elements of the original to remind us how much it really falls flat. Not for lack of trying. Feldman has some passion for the material and an obvious love for the character. He just isn’t given a natural enough environment to shine. The film is dedicated to Corey Haim. This is less a Lost Boys film and more an Edgar Frog movie. “Welcome to Mr. Frog’s wild ride.”