Friday, October 29, 2010

Lessons in Lost Boys

Some genres and templates are so steeped in meaning and symbolism that even an eighties comedic take still carries a message off sorts. Lost Boys shows us that the vampire mythos is just such a vehicle. A popular, teen-age, very tongue-in-cheek take on the vampire story, Lost Boys was a Two Coreys movie and that sometimes overshadows the fact that there is a good story here with many good performances.

The basic story (for those of you who are over forty or under thirty) concerns two brothers who move with their newly divorced mother into their grandfather’s house in a California town known as “the murder capitol of the world.” Once there they discover that it is the murder capitol because there is a gang of teen vampires, but not before the older brother is partially converted. The younger brother with the help of two teen-age vampire hunters sets out to redeem his brother and save his mom.

At least two big classic themes of vampire stories are explored from a fresh perspective.

First, we see the appealing, seductive side of evil. However, the enticement is updated, targeted at teens and mixed with peer pressure. The older brother, Michael, meets a girl and her biker band. He likes the girl, and wants friends. He is invited to their hang-out and made to feel silly, tricked and teased during diner, so that he will drink their vampire blood without knowing what he is doing. In case that was too subtle for you, they then literally take him to a bridge, all his new friends jump off, and he does too! (It is done in an almost believable way, but it is still the old mother’s clich├ęd argument against peer pressure.)

The other theme common to some vampire stories and strengthened here is community. Not only is a community of belief needed to stand against evil and overcome it (as we see in Dracula), but the community offered by evil is also explored. The vampires are almost like a family, and they offer a place of belonging that so many teens in the story crave. In fact, the vampires are the only peer group visible in the movie. The Frog brothers—as the other vampire hunters in the film that the younger brother teams up with—are not a part of any group but more loners. This fact helps the evil that the vampires offer to be even more seductive.

Lost Boys is anything but preachy, though. In fact, it is mostly a comedy—with a few genuine scares and plenty of eighties style, music and gross-outs. It is a guilty pleasure, but a good one.

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