The 80s gave us a lot of really great horror movies, and one of the most enduringly popular of these is The Lost Boys. At a time when vampires were starting to seem a bit old-fashioned and boring, director Joel Schumacher’s leather-clad, teen-friendly romp made the undead ultra-cool and edgy once again, giving the classic movie monster a much-needed injection of new blood.
Here are some facts you might not have known about the 1987 vampire classic.
20. Its title is taken from Peter Pan
It might be a movie about hip young undead bloodsuckers, but the title of The Lost Boys has its origins outside the horror genre. The film’s title was directly inspired by J.M. Barrie’s time-honoured children’s classic, Peter Pan. Anyone who’s read the book, seen the stage play or watched any number of the film adaptations may have noticed the reference.
In Peter Pan, the Lost Boys are the tribe of male youngsters who, like their leader, ran away from home to go to Neverland – where they never have to grow old or die, much like vampires.
19. The film was originally intended to be more like The Goonies
The original Lost Boys script by screenwriting duo Janice Fischer and James Jeremias was closer in tone and content to 1985’s The Goonies, with that film’s director Richard Donner originally attached to call the shots. This earlier version featured vampires aged 13 or 14, the Frog brothers as “chubby 8-year-old cub scouts” and Star as a young boy.
However, this all changed when Donner stepped back to instead make 1987’s Lethal Weapon, and Joel Schumacher replaced him in the director’s chair. Schumacher felt the film would be more effective geared towards an older audience, and set about reworking the material accordingly.
18. Director Joel Schumacher declared the cast ‘one of the greatest in the world’
Director Joel Schumacher landed The Lost Boys after enjoying a smash hit with 1985’s Brat Pack drama St. Elmo’s Fire, which was famed its iconic ‘Brat Pack’ ensemble cast. As such, Schumacher understood the importance of having the right people in front of the camera, and the director said that he had “one of the greatest [casts] in the world” at his disposal on The Lost Boys.
Arguably the most iconic performances in the movie come from its handsome male leads, Kiefer Sutherland as vampire David and Jason Patric as the newly-turned Michael. Then, of course, there were the two Coreys, Haim and Feldman, as Michael’s brother Sam and vampire hunter Edgar Frog – but more on them later…
17. It changed the vampire genre
The Lost Boys was one among a number of teen-friendly horror movies which revitalised the vampire genre in the mid-80s (others including Fright Night, Vamp, Near Dark and to a lesser degree The Monster Squad). The film proved massively influential on vampire movies which came in its wake, such as 1992’s similarly teen-oriented Buffy the Vampire Slayer (later adapted to a far superior TV series).
With its emphasis on angst and sex appeal, The Lost Boys also helped set the stage for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Interview with the Vampire and even the Twilight series. Vampire movies weren’t the only ones influenced by The Lost Boys, either: teen witch horror The Craft also owes the film a clear debt.
16. It made Corey Haim and Corey Feldman into best friends
A key part of The Lost Boys’ legacy is the casting of two teen stars who were soon synonymous with one another: Corey Haim and Corey Feldman. After The Lost Boys, the ‘two Coreys’ enjoyed a close personal and professional relationship, co-starring in a string of movies including License to Drive and Dream a Little Dream.
Sadly, the duo also shared a very public downfall, both young actors falling into drug addiction and professional disarray. While Feldman ultimately managed to turn things around, Haim never conquered his demons, and died from pneumonia in 2010 aged just 38.
15. The bonfire attack scene was originally way more gruesome
The Lost Boys is far milder than a lot of R-rated horror of the time, with only moderate swearing and no nudity. However, where the film really earns its R-rating is the level of bloodshed – not least when the vampires massacre a group of bikers around a campfire. As grisly as this sequence is, Kiefer Sutherland has revealed that, as originally shot, it would have been even gorier.
The actor told Yahoo! in 2019, the scene “was just so violent I couldn’t believe that we were doing it… I ate the whole back of (a man’s) head off and blood just went everywhere. I had been directed to just smile like a child having cake, and the two images were so frightening and scary.”
14. The town was renamed Santa Carla because Santa Cruz didn’t like being called “murder capital of the world”
The Lost Boys was shot in Santa Cruz, California – but the production was only allowed to film there on one condition. Santa Cruz officials insisted the name of the town be changed in the movie, as they didn’t like the fact that the script declared it to be the “murder capital of the world.” To this end, the filmmakers created the fictitious Santa Carla.
This wasn’t just a matter of the local council being over-sensitive, though, as Santa Cruz does indeed have a horrific history. In the 70s, the town was site of a series of grisly and random killings, with several notorious serial killers operating at the same time.
13. Corey Feldman was told to act like Sylvester Stallone and Chuck Norris
Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander co-star in The Lost Boys as Edgar and Alan Frog, comic store clerks and part-time vampire hunters. You may recognise their names as a nod to iconic horror author Edgar Allan Poe, but when it came to their performances, Joel Schumacher instructed the young actors to take influence from two rather more modern popular icons.
Feldman says he was told to look to the films of 80s action heroes Sylvester Stallone and Chuck Norris to get the heart of his character. This influence is most obvious from his headband, similar to that which Stallone wears as Rambo.
12. Jami Gertz was cast at Jason Patric’s recommendation, even though the filmmakers wanted a blonde
The Lost Boys proved to be a big breakthrough role for Jami Gertz, who quickly became a major crush for many young viewers. However, she seemed an unlikely candidate for the role of Star at first, as she wasn’t quite what Joel Schumacher was looking for. The director felt that the half-vampire dream girl Star should be a blonde, and wanted a Meg Ryan type.
Gertz wound up being considered for the role at the recommendation of Michael actor Jason Patric, who had not long since worked with Gertz on 1986 sci-fi adventure Solarbabies (AKA Solarwarriors), which was considerably less successful than The Lost Boys in every respect.
11. Ben Stiller auditioned to be a Lost Boy
As with any major Hollywood movie, the filmmakers met with a whole bunch of up-and-coming young actors for The Lost Boys. This included Ben Stiller, then a 22-year-old unknown with no film roles on his CV. While it’s unclear which role Stiller was up for, he spoke publicly about missing out on the film in 2010.
The actor and filmmaker told the audience at the HollywoodLife Young Hollywood Awards, “Last time I saw a room full of so many talented faces was when I auditioned for The Lost Boys … It was between me and Kiefer and the two Coreys.”
10. A post-credits scene hinting at a sequel was planned, but never filmed
Since the rise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, post-credits scenes have become commonplace in blockbuster movies. However, The Lost Boys was initially intended to have one last scene after the credits, which would have subtly hinted at more to come. As scripted, after The Lost Boys’ end credits we would have cut back to the ruined beach front hotel which the vampires called home.
The camera would have slowly panned into the abandoned ruin, where it would drift onto a wall we hadn’t noticed before: a painted mural dated 1900, featuring Edward Herrmann’s Max exactly as we saw him in the movie. In the end, however, this sequence was never shot.
9. David wears gloves to hide that Sutherland broke his wrist during filming
Kiefer Sutherland and his fellow vamps Billy Wirth, Brooke McCarter and future Bill & Ted star Alex Winter all sport eye-popping mullets and heavy metal biker boy outfits in The Lost Boys. However, not all the costume choices were made entirely in the interests of looking cool. Look closely, and you might notice that Sutherland’s David is rarely seen without his black leather biker gloves.
The reason Sutherland wears these gloves throughout is to hide the fact that he broke his wrist midway through filming. Perhaps ironically given that the young vamps are bikers, Sutherland sustained this injury after falling off his motorbike.
8. The vampire contact lenses were so painful, the actors could only wear them a few seconds at a time
The Lost Boys was among the first vampire movies to use extensive special make-up effects to represent the transformation from human to vampire. In the years previous to this, vampire actors generally just put in some false fangs and that was about it! However, one key part of the make-up – the contact lenses – proved extremely challenging.
These were so painful that the actors could only stand to wear them for a few seconds at a time. In fact, when David nearly captures Sam before being burnt by a beam of sunlight, the tear dripping down Kiefer Sutherland’s cheek is genuine, as his eyes were genuinely watering from discomfort.
7. We hardly see the vampires flying because of budget cuts
The Lost Boys went before cameras with a budget of $8.5 million: hardly blockbuster money, but still a respectable budget for the time. However, this was a fair bit less cash than Joel Schumacher and company were originally promised by studio Warner Bros. Because of this, the filmmakers were forced to pare back on some of their original plans, and get a bit more creative.
This explains why, aside from the final battle between David and Michael, we almost never see the vampires in flight. Instead, Schumacher opted to show the flying vampire attacks from the point of view of the vampires themselves.
6. 20 years later, there were two direct-to-DVD sequels
Given the popularity of The Lost Boys, many were surprised that the film didn’t immediately kick-start a big screen franchise. However, you might not have known that The Lost Boys did eventually spawn two sequels – although if you’ve missed them, you haven’t missed much.
Lost Boys: The Tribe and Lost Boys: The Thirst were released in 2008 and 2010 respectively, and both were cut-price productions released direct to DVD. Corey Feldman returns in both films as Edgar Frog. Corey Haim made one of his last appearances as Sam in a mid-credits scene in Lost Boys: The Tribe, whilst Jamison Newlander returned as Alan Frog in Lost Boys: The Thirst.
5. Tara Reid and Rachael Leigh Cook almost starred in a belated sequel
Long before the direct-to-DVD sequels, there had been talk of a more prestigious follow-up film. The key problem, as director Joel Schumacher recalled in 2007, was that “The Lost Boys are all dead” by the end of the movie. Schumacher’s suggestion was to make The Lost Girls, a sequel centred on an all-new ensemble of “gorgeous teenage biker chicks who are vampires.”
This idea started to gain some traction in the early 2000s, and reports suggest that Josie and the Pussycats co-stars Rachel Leigh Cook and Tara Reid were among the actresses the studio had in mind, but for reasons unknown the project failed to get a green light.
4. A planned TV series and remake have spent years in development hell
Following the straight-to-DVD sequels, a spin-off TV series centred on the Frog brothers was pitched, but ultimately cancelled. Then in 2019, a pilot was shot for a Lost Boys TV series featuring an all-new cast of characters broadly modelled on the movie’s characters – including the gender-swapped Frog sisters.
This was rejected by TV network the CW, and though another pilot was scripted and ready to go it wound up falling apart during the Covid-19 pandemic. Then in 2021, a feature film remake of The Lost Boys was announced, although this too has yet to materialise.
3. Its soundtrack is legendary
Hand-in-hand with the quintessentially 80s fashions on display, The Lost Boys also features one of the most memorable 80s soundtrack albums. Most notably at the time, the film boasts two tracks from one of the biggest stadium rock bands of the decade, INXS (Good Times, and Laying Down the Law), as well as cult British band Echo and the Bunnymen’s cover of People Are Strange by The Doors.
There are also some comparatively lesser-known acts best remembered today specifically for The Lost Boys, firstly Gerard McMahon, who performs the film’s official theme song Cry Little Sister.
2. Saxophonist Tim Cappello recently enjoyed a comeback
While he’s only in the movie for a single scene, singer and saxophonist Tim Cappello provides one of the most memorable and and most frequently parodied moments in The Lost Boys. With his heavily oiled bodybuilder physique, long ponytail and lurid on-stage movements, Cappello’s brief appearance leaves a lasting impression.
Outside of The Lost Boys, Cappello was a long-time collaborator with Tina Turner, providing the saxophone on her 1985 hit We Don’t Need Another Hero (the theme song of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome). In 2018, he enjoyed a comeback in collaboration with British synthwave band Gunship on their Lost Boys-inspired song Dark All Day.
1. There have also been two Lost Boys comic books
The universe of The Lost Boys has also been explored further in comic book form as well as on screen. In 2008, a comic book mini-series called Lost Boys: Reign of Frogs was released, setting its story between the events of the original movie and Lost Boys: The Tribe. This four-issue run by comics published Wildstorm saw the Frog brothers continuing their vampire hunting adventures.
Then in 2016, DC Vertigo published another Lost Boys comic which entirely disregarded the Reign of Frogs storyline and served as a direct sequel to the original movie. Well received by some fans, the six-issue series drew on the planned Lost Girls sequel, featuring a new gang of female vampires alongside the surviving characters from the movie.