20 Full-Blooded Facts About The Lost Boys
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. And of course, the main appeal of coming to Neverland is that they never have to grow old or die. This, of course, is also the case for the vampires – although this eternal youth comes at a price.
19. The film was originally intended to be more like The Goonies
The Lost Boys kick-started a new era for teen-oriented horror movies – but this wasn’t always the plan. The original 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. To this end, Schumacher hired an additional screenwriter, Jeffrey Boam, to make the film ‘sexier’ and ‘more adult’.
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. The success of that film had a lot to do with its iconic ensemble cast, so Schumacher understood the importance of having the right people in front of the camera. Schumacher has said that he had “one of the greatest [casts] in the world” at his disposal on The Lost Boys, saying “they are what make the film.”
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. Filling out the central ensemble are Jami Gertz as Star, recent Oscar-winner Dianne Wiest (Best Supporting Actress for 1986’s Hannah and Her Sisters) as single mom Lucy, and Barnard Hughes as kooky old Grandpa. 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. It came in the wake of 1985’s Fright Night and 1986’s Vamp, as well as arriving in the same year as Near Dark and The Monster Squad. However, The Lost Boys had the biggest popular impact by far, and the film proved massively influential on vampire movies which came in its wake. The later vampire movies heavily influenced by The Lost Boys include 1992’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer (later adapted to a far superior TV series).
With its emphasis on sex appeal, The Lost Boys also helped set the stage for 1992’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula and 1994’s Interview with the Vampire. Later down the line, the film’s blend of vampirism, romance and teenage angst is also in evidence in the hugely popular Twilight saga. Vampire movies weren’t the only ones influenced by The Lost Boys, either: 1996 teen witch horror The Craft also owes a clear debt to the 1987 hit.
16. It made Corey Haim and Corey Feldman into best friends
A key part of The Lost Boys’ legacy is the casting of two young actors who were soon synonymous with one another: Corey Haim and Corey Feldman. Feldman had enjoyed the greatest professional success up to that point, starring in such hits as Gremlins, The Goonies and Stand by Me. Haim, meanwhile, was previously best known for Stephen King adaptation Silver Bullet, and for taking the title role in 1986’s Lucas.
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
In some ways, it’s not too surprising to learn that The Lost Boys was originally planned as a kids’ movie, as it’s far milder than a lot of R-rated horror of the time. It’s fairly mild in terms of strong language (the F-bomb never gets dropped), and the only sex scene cuts away before things get explicit. However, the one place that The Lost Boys really earns its R-rating is the level of bloodshed on show – not least in the scene midway through, 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.” Sutherland confirms that this moment is “sort of in the movie — they cut around it,” but as edited the sequence isn’t quite so grotesque as it might have been.
14. The town was renamed Santa Carla because Santa Cruz didn’t like being called “murder capital of the world”
The Lost Boys takes place in the fictitious California seafront town of Santa Carla, which the movie tell us has the world’s highest murder rate. In reality, the town that The Lost Boys was shot in was the similarly named Santa Cruz – but the production was only allowed to shoot there on one condition. Santa Cruz officials insisted the name of the town be changed in the movie, as they didn’t like the “murder capital of the world” label.
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. Happily, the town and its people are now proud of their association with The Lost Boys, which is screened annually on the iconic Santa Cruz boardwalk which features prominently in the film.
13. Corey Feldman was told to act like Sylvester Stallone and Chuck Norris
One of the standout performances in The Lost Boys comes from Corey Feldman, as brash young vampire hunter Edgar Frog. Feldman and co-star Jamison Newlander play brothers named Edgar and Alan, which viewers may recognise as a nod to iconic Gothic author Edgar Allan Poe. However, when it came to Feldman’s performance, Joel Schumacher instructed him to take influence from two rather more modern popular icons.
The actor says he was told to look to the films of Sylvester Stallone and Chuck Norris to get the heart of his character. Both these big screen action men were at the height of their fame in the 80s. With Edgar’s militant dress sense and mannerisms (not to mention that bandana), the most obvious influence would be Stallone’s Rambo and Norris’ Missing in Action.
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. Gertz had previously appeared in such films as Endless Love, Sixteen Candles and Crossroads. However, she seemed an unlikely candidate for the role of Star at first, as she wasn’t quite what Joel Schumacher was looking for.
Originally, the director felt that the half-vampire dream girl Star should be a blonde: reportedly he wanted a Meg Ryan type. Gertz wound up being considered for the role at the recommendation of Michael actor Jason Patric. Patric and Gertz had not long since worked together on 1986 sci-fi adventure Solarbabies (AKA Solarwarriors) – a considerably less successful film 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. At least one of those who unsuccessfully auditioned went on to make a name for himself with very different material. That was 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 [Sutherland], and the two Coreys [Haim and Feldman]. ” In the years that followed, Stiller would gradually build a name for himself as an actor and director, before he really found fame alongside Cameron Diaz in 1998’s There’s Something About Mary.
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. This ending would have been reminiscent of The Shining, and it could also be interpreted as suggesting further stories yet to be told of vampires in Santa Carla. However, the sequence was never shot, presumably for financial reasons: Warner Bros cut the film’s budget by 35% shortly before the shoot began, forcing them to cut anything that wasn’t essential.
9. David wears gloves to hide that Sutherland broke his wrist during filming
If there’s one thing which makes The Lost Boys unmistakable as a product of the late 80s, it’s the young cast’s hair and wardrobe. Kiefer Sutherland and his fellow vamps Billy Wirth, Brooke McCarter and Alex Winter (soon to find fame in the Bill & Ted movies) all sport eye-popping mullets and heavy metal biker boy outfits. However, it turns out that not all the costume choices made in The Lost Boys were entirely about looking cool (by the standards of the day).
For one thing, you might have noticed 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 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. This is another way in which the movie proved influential, as pretty much ever major vampire movie since has taken a similar approach. 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 to the vampiric cast members of The Lost Boys. 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 and caused by the lenses!
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. Ultimately this was worked to the film’s advantage, creating a greater sense of mystery and anticipation.
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. Both of them were low budget productions which went straight to DVD and had very little narrative connection to the 1987 original.
The first of these was Lost Boys: The Tribe, which hit DVD shelves in 2008, followed by Lost Boys: The Thirst in 2010. In both films the main connective tissue with the original is the presence of Corey Feldman as the now adult vampire hunter Edgar Frog. Corey Haim made one of his last appearances in a brief mid-credits scene in Lost Boys: The Tribe, whilst Jamison Newlander returned as Alan Frog in Lost Boys: The Thirst.
5. There was supposed to be a sequel called The Lost Girls
While it ultimately took 21 years for a Lost Boys sequel to reach screens, there had been talk of a follow-up far sooner. The key problem, as director Joel Schumacher recalled in 2007, was that “The Lost Boys are all dead” by the end of the movie. Initially a prequel, Lost Boys: The Beginning, was in development – but this was eventually ruled out as, by the mid-90s, Kiefer Sutherland and co. couldn’t pass for teens anymore.
Schumacher’s suggestion, then, 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. However, for better or worse The Lost Girls failed to get off the ground, and was scrapped in favour of the two underwhelming cut-price Lost Boys sequels.
4. A TV series has been in development hell for years
In recent years, a number of movie titles from yesteryear – notably Teen Wolf and Scream – have been successfully adapted into teen-friendly TV shows. Small wonder, then, that Warner Bros have had high hopes for similar small screen success with a series based on The Lost Boys. However, despite the best efforts of many creative talents in the past decade, no Lost Boys TV show has managed to get off the ground to date.
Originally a Lost Boys TV show was proposed as a continuation of the straight-to-DVD sequels, centring on the Frog brothers, but this was ditched along with plans for a third sequel. In 2019, a pilot was shot featuring an all-new cast of characters broadly modelled on the movies characters (including the gender-swapped Frog sisters), but this was rejected by TV network the CW. Reportedly an all-new pilot script has been written and is ready to be shot, but is currently in limbo along with most other TV and movie productions due to Covid-19.
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. The Aussie rockers recorded two tracks for the movie in collaboration with singer Jimmy Barnes: Good Times, and Laying Down the Law.
The film also memorably features cult British band Echo and the Bunnymen’s cover of People Are Strange by The Doors, and a recording of Elton John’s Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me by The Who’s Roger Daltrey. 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. Then, of course, there’s singer and saxophonist Tim Cappello, who makes a memorable live appearance in the movie performing I Still Believe.
2. Saxophonist Tim Cappello recently enjoyed a comeback
While he’s only in the movie for a brief scene, Tim Cappello’s performance is one of the best-remembered and most frequently parodied moments in The Lost Boys. With his heavily oiled bodybuilder physique, long ponytail and lurid on-stage movements, Cappello’s rendition of I Still Believe is nothing if not memorable. You might not be aware, however, that Cappello enjoyed other notable successes in his career outside of The Lost Boys.
He 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). As an actor, he had roles on TV’s Miami Vice and The Equalizer. However, it was Cappello’s association with The Lost Boys which saw him enjoy a return to the spotlight in 2018 in collaboration with British synthwave band Gunship. Cappello performs saxophone on Dark All Day, the title track from the band’s 2018 album of the same name. Gunship’s music is heavily influenced by 80s cinema, and the song’s lyrics take liberal inspiration from The Lost Boys.
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.