Every once in a while, the Icons of Fright staff all band together to write what we like to call “Icons Firsts”, in which we all write about the first times we all experienced watching classic horror films (HALLOWEEN, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, THE EVIL DEAD). When it’s just one of us writing about the first viewing experience, it typically falls into the “Our First Times” articles (My TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE article, Natty’s RE-ANIMATOR article), as a way to separate whether it’s just one person or the whole gang. Easy enough, right? Well this time, it’s just me, and I figured I’d write about the experience of viewing one of my favorite movies of all time, 1987’s vampire classic, THE LOST BOYS. So grab your maggot-filled Chinese food, sunglasses and wooden stakes, it’s Our First Times: THE LOST BOYS time!
My experience with Joel Schumacher’s vampire classic, THE LOST BOYS began with in grade school, when my older brother went to an overnight sleepover/birthday party for his friend, Victor. At that time in my life, my brother and I were inseparable, as I was only around 7 years old at the time and was basically joined at the hip with him. While he was gone for the night, I stayed at home, watching whatever TV shows my grandmother was watching, and was filled to the brim with jealousy over not being able to go with my brother. I anxiously waited for him to come home the following day (a Saturday) and when he did, I made him tell me about all of the fun things they did. He told me stories of playing Nintendo games, staying up late eating pizza, and then he dropped the bomb on me: his friends parents rented all of the kids a movie. I sat there, enthralled, as my brother told me about the crazy vampire movie he had seen, acting out scenes from it and continually telling me how much I would absolutely love it. Every single thing he told me about the movie, just made it worse for me. When my dad came home from work, I ran right up to him, begging him to take us to the local video store to rent the movie, but when we went, it was all rented out, not a single copy in that store, hell, at ANY of the video stores in town (there were tons). Defeated, I did what any bratty kid at that age did: pout. My dad then told me that we were going to go to Coalinga (a small town in California) to spend the weekend at my aunt Jewel’s house, which was always a lot of fun, so I sucked up my issues regarding not being able to see the vampire movie my brother had told me about, and grabbed a stack of comic books to read while in Coalinga for the weekend.
When we arrived, we went through the same motions we always did while visiting my aunt Jewel: reading comics and books while my dad and grandmother played cards with my aunt Jewel and older cousin Gerald. That evening, the annual “Horned Toad Derby” was happening in town, and we headed to it, full of carnival fun and people watching the weirdest-looking creatures ever race. I had a blast, throwing darts at balloons and winning a Guns N’ Roses poster, and enjoying some delicious burritos. We made it back to my aunt Jewel’s and while I was sitting there, somewhat bored, she asked me “Do you kids want to rent a movie?,” and handing me $5.00, which was a lot to young me. I instantly called the video store, hoping and praying that THE LOST BOYS was in stock,..but the video clerk on the other side of the phone said, “Nope, they’re all out, but we’re expecting two copies back at some point today”. Not letting that defeat me, my brother and I ran to the video store, and I stood there for over 45 minutes, just waiting for someone to bring a copy back, and just when my brother insisted on picking something else, in walked a family, returning THE LOST BOYS. We called dibs on it before it could be rented out again, and rented it ourselves. Ecstatic as ever, we ran to my aunt’s house, ate pizza, made popcorn and drank enough Dr. Pepper to fill the Grand Canyon, waiting for my uncle Johnny to stop watching sports so we could experience some vamp greatness.
When we finally DID get the TV to ourselves, and put the VHS tape into the VCR, I knew something magical was about to transpire…and it did. I was in a different world watching that film, one in which I fell in love with the story, laughed at the silliness (I can’t tell you how many times I made fun of the way that Star introduced herself to the Michael character…”Staaaarrrr”), did shirtless impressions of the sax-player, and acted out the “You missed, sucker” scene. It was one of the great, rare cases of a film instantly joining the ranks of some of your all time favorite films. I became OBSESSED with THE LOST BOYS, it was all I thought about for months. I would act out the whole movie for my friends at school, telling them how much they were missing out by not having seen it yet, and ranting about how much it just absolutely kicked ass. I was hooked.
Throughout the years, I’ve revisited the film many times, turning my kids onto it, and I love looking at them lost in the film the same way that I was as a kid. As the years went on, my brother and I remained close, but eventually became two very different people. He’s into lowriders and snakes, and I am terrified of snakes and listen to punk rock and spend most of my time writing and taking photos. We still hang out regularly, but we’re just not the as similar as we used to be. Thinking that the experience of turning me onto THE LOST BOYS was something that wasn’t important to my brother, imagine my surprise when showed up to my house a couple of years ago, to show me his recent knuckle tattoos….
THE LOST BOYS is still my favorite vampire movie of all time, and the experience of watching it for the first time is one I’ll always cherish, and never forget. In the words of that oiled up sax player,…”I still believe”.