The Lost Boys

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The Lost Boys
Lost boys.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJoel Schumacher
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Janice Fischer
  • James Jeremias
Produced byHarvey Bernhard
CinematographyMichael Chapman
Edited byRobert Brown
Music byThomas Newman
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • July 31, 1987 (1987-07-31) (United States)
Running time
98 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$8.5 million
Box office$32.2 million

The Lost Boys is a 1987 American supernatural black comedy horror film directed by Joel Schumacher, produced by Harvey Bernhard with a screenplay written by Jeffrey Boam, Janice Fischer and James Jeremias, from a story by Fischer and Jeremias. The film's ensemble cast includes Corey Haim, Jason Patric, Kiefer Sutherland, Jami Gertz, Corey Feldman, Dianne Wiest, Edward Herrmann, Billy Wirth, Brooke McCarter, Alex Winter, Jamison Newlander, and Barnard Hughes.

The title is a reference to the Lost Boys in J. M. Barrie's stories about Peter Pan and Neverland, who, like vampires, never grow up. Most of the film was shot in Santa Cruz, California.

The Lost Boys was released and produced by Warner Bros. Pictures on July 31, 1987 and was a critical and commercial success, grossing over $32 million against a production budget of $8.5 million. The success of the film has spawned a franchise with two sequels (Lost Boys: The Tribe and Lost Boys: The Thirst), and two comic book series.


Michael Emerson and his younger brother, Sam move with their recently divorced mother Lucy to the fictional small beach town of Santa Carla, California, to live with her eccentric father, Michael and Sam's grandfather.

Michael and Sam hang out at the boardwalk, which is plastered with flyers of missing people. Lucy gets a job at a video store owned by bachelor Max Lawrence. Michael becomes fascinated by Star, a beautiful young girl he spots on the boardwalk, though she seems to be with the mysterious David, the leader of a youth biker gang.

In the local comic book store, Sam meets brothers Edgar and Alan Frog, a pair of self-proclaimed vampire hunters. They give Sam horror comics to teach him about the threat they claim has infiltrated the town.

Michael finally talks to Star. David approaches and goads him into following them by motorcycle along the beach. They reach a dangerous cliff that Michael nearly drives over. At the gang's hangout, an abandoned luxury hotel sunken beneath the cliff by the 1906 earthquake, David initiates Michael into the group. Star warns Michael not to drink from an offered bottle, warning it is blood, but he ignores her advice. Later on, David and the others, including Michael, head to a railroad bridge where they hang off the bottom from the trestles over a foggy gorge; one by one they fall, Michael falling after them.

Michael wakes up at home the next day, unaware of how he got there. His eyes are sensitive to sunlight and he develops a sudden thirst for blood, which leads him to impulsively attack Sam. Sam's dog, Nanook, retaliates. Sam realizes that Michael is turning into a vampire, verified by his brother's semi-transparent reflection. Sam is initially terrified, but Michael convinces him that he is not yet a vampire and desperately needs his help.

Michael begins developing supernatural powers and asks Star for help; they have sex shortly after. Sam deduces that, as Michael has not killed anyone, he is a half-vampire and his condition is reversible upon the head vampire's death. Sam and the Frog brothers test whether Max is the head vampire during a date with Lucy, but he passes every test, and they instead focus on David.

To provoke him into killing, David takes Michael to stalk a group of beach goers and instigates a feeding frenzy. Horrified, he escapes and returns home to Sam. Star then arrives and reveals herself as a half-vampire who wants to be cured. It emerges that David had intended for Michael to be Star's first kill, sealing her fate as a vampire.

The next day, a weakening Michael leads Sam and the Frog brothers to the gang's lair. They impale one vampire, Marko, with a stake, awakening David and the two others, but the boys escape, rescuing Star and Laddie, a half-vampire child and Star's companion.

That evening, while Lucy is out with Max and Grandpa is on a date with a widow, the teens arm themselves with holy-water-filled water guns, a longbow and wood stakes; barricading themselves in the house. When night falls, David's gang attack the house. The Frog brothers and Nanook kill Paul by pushing him into a bathtub filled with garlic and holy water, dissolving him. Sam is attacked by Dwayne, another vampire, before he shoots an arrow through his heart and into the stereo behind him, electrocuting him.

Michael is then attacked by David, forcing him to use his vampire powers. He manages to overpower David and impales him on a set of antlers. However, Michael, Star and Laddie do not transform back to normal as they had hoped. Lucy then returns home with Max, who is revealed to be the head vampire. He explains that inviting a vampire into one's house renders one powerless over said vampire, leaving them unable to exploit any weaknesses the vampire has while there, explaining why their earlier assumption appeared to be incorrect. Max reveals he had instructed David to turn Sam and Michael into vampires so that Lucy could not refuse to be transformed herself, as his objective had been to make Lucy mother for his lost boys.

As Max pulls Lucy to him, preparing to transform her, he is killed when Grandpa crashes his truck through the wall of the house, impaling Max on a wooden fence post, causing him to explode. Michael, Star and Laddie then return to normal. Amongst the carnage and debris, Grandpa casually retrieves a drink from the refrigerator and declares: "One thing about living in Santa Carla I never could stomach: all the damn vampires."




A March 5, 1985 Variety news item announced that the independent production company Producers Sales Organization (PSO) bought first-time screenwriters Janice Fischer and James Jeremias's Lost Boys script for $400,000 on February 20, 1986.[1] PSO announced their acquisition of the project at American Film Market 1985. Later Warner Bros. joined the project, taking over domestic distribution and some foreign territories.[1]

The film's title is a reference to the characters featured in J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan stories, who – like vampires – never grow old.[2] According to Day, the central theme of The Lost Boys, "organised around loose allusions to Peter Pan", is the tension surrounding the Emerson family and the world of contemporary adolescence.[3] The film was originally set to be directed by Richard Donner and the screenplay, written by Janice Fischer and James Jeremias, was modelled on Donner's recent hit The Goonies (1985).[4] In this way the film was envisioned as more of a juvenile vampire adventure with 13 or 14 year old vampires, while the Frog brothers were "chubby 8 year-old Cub Scouts" and the character of Star was a young boy.[5][4] When Donner committed to other projects, Joel Schumacher was approached to direct the film although Donner eventually received credit as an executive producer. He insisted on making the film sexier and more adult, bringing on screenwriter Jeffrey Boam to retool the script and raise the ages of the characters.[6]


Director Joel Schumacher said he had "one of the greatest [casts] in the world. They are what make the film." Most of the younger cast members were relatively unknown. Schumacher and Marion Dougherty met with many candidates.[7] Jason Patric was approached early on by Schumacher to play Michael, but Patric had no interest in doing a vampire film and turned it down "many times". Eventually he was won over by Schumacher's vision and his promise to allow the cast a lot of "creative input" in making the film. According to Kiefer Sutherland, Patric "was really instrumental" in adapting the script with Schumacher and shaping the film.[8]

Schumacher envisioned the character of Star as being a waifish blonde, similar to Meg Ryan, but he was convinced by Jason Patric to consider Jami Gertz, who had just worked with Patric in Solarbabies (1986). Schumacher was impressed, but only at Patric's insistence did he finally cast Gertz.[9] Schumacher was surprised when his first choice for the role of Lucy, Dianne Wiest, accepted the role, as she had just recently won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Hannah and Her Sisters (1986).[9]

After seeing Kiefer Sutherland's portrayal of Tim in At Close Range, Schumacher arranged a reading with him at which they got on very well. Sutherland had just completed work on Stand by Me when he was offered the role of David. Schumacher said Sutherland "can do almost anything. He's a born character actor. You can see it in The Lost Boys. He has the least amount of dialogue in the movie, but his presence is extraordinary."[7]

Principal photography[edit]

Most of the film was shot in Santa Cruz, California on June 2, 1986 and ended on June 23, 1986 after 21 days of filming. locations include the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, the Pogonip open space preserve, and the surrounding Santa Cruz Mountains. Other locations included a cliffside on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in Los Angeles County, used for the entrance to the vampire cave, and a valley in Santa Clarita near Magic Mountain, where introductory shots were shot for the scene where Michael and the Lost Boys hang from a railway bridge.[10] Stage sets included the vampire cave, built on Stage 12 of the Warner Bros. lot, and a recreation of the interior and exterior of the Pogonip clubhouse on Stage 15, which stood in for Grandpa's house.[6]

Sutherland broke his right wrist while doing a wheelie on his motorcycle and had to wear gloves on camera to conceal the cast. His motorcycle for the movie was adapted so he could operate it with his left hand only.[8]


Box office[edit]

The Lost Boys opened at #2 during its opening weekend, with a domestic gross of over $5.2 million. It went on to gross a domestic total of over $32.2 million against an $8.5 million budget.[11][12]

Critical response[edit]

Critical reception was generally positive. Roger Ebert gave the film two-and-a-half out of four stars, praising the cinematography and "a cast that's good right down the line," but ultimately describing Lost Boys as a triumph of style over substance and "an ambitious entertainment that starts out well but ends up selling its soul."[13] Caryn James of The New York Times called Dianne Wiest's character a "dopey mom" and Barnard Hughes's character "a caricature of a feisty old Grandpa." She found the film more of a comedy than a horror and the finale "funny".[14] Elaine Showalter comments that "the film brilliantly portrays vampirism as a metaphor for the kind of mythic male bonding that resists growing up, commitment, especially marriage."[15] Variety panned the film, calling it "a horrifically dreadful vampire teensploitation entry that daringly advances the theory that all those missing children pictured on garbage bags and milk cartons are actually the victims of bloodsucking bikers."[16]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a "Certified Fresh" 76% rating based on 71 reviews. The site's critics consensus reads, "Flawed but eminently watchable, Joel Schumacher's teen vampire thriller blends horror, humor, and plenty of visual style with standout performances from a cast full of young 1980s stars."[17] On Metacritic it has a rating of 63% based on reviews from 16 critics, indicating "Generally favorable reviews".[18] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade of "A−" on scale of A+ to F.[19]

It won a Saturn Award for Best Horror Film in 1987.[20]

Cultural influence[edit]

The mythographer A. Asbjørn Jøn wrote that The Lost Boys helped shift popular culture depictions of vampires.[21] The film is often credited with bringing a more youthful appeal to the vampire genre by making the vampires themselves sexy and young. This inspired subsequent films like Buffy the Vampire Slayer.[22] The scene in which David transforms noodles into worms was directly referenced in the 2014 vampire mockumentary film What We Do in the Shadows.[23] The film inspired the song of the same name by the Finnish gothic rock band The 69 Eyes.[24] Gunship's 2018 Dark All Day music video and lyrics reference the themes and practical effects, on top of collaborating with Tim Cappello.[25]

The music video for "Into the Summer", a song released by American rock band Incubus on August 23, 2019, pays homage to the film.[26]

Event organizers Monopoly Events created "the biggest Lost Boys reunion ever" in 2019 at their annual horror fan convention, For the Love of Horror, which included Kiefer Sutherland, Jason Patric, Alex Winter, Jamison Newlander, and Billy Wirth along with musicians from the film, G Tom Mac, and Tim Cappello, who all appeared at the event and were reunited for the first time in over 30 years. Both G Tom Mac and Tim Cappello performed separate live music sets on the event stage to a vast crowd of fans on both days of the event, while Cappello performed a third time at the event after-party. All of the celebrities posed together for photographs in a purpose-built "cave" set modeled on the vampire cave seen in The Lost Boys original movie which was complete with a poster of Jim Morrison, a bottle of fake blood and David the vampire's wheelchair.[27]

The Frog Brothers make a (non-canonical) cameo in Jenny Colgan's 2001 novel, Looking For Andrew McCarthy, in which they are now police officers and make brief, ominous reference to their past work with "the supernatural".[28]


Due to his past fantasy novels and horror short stories, Craig Shaw Gardner was given a copy of the script and asked to write a novelization to accompany the film's release. At the time, Gardner was, like the Frog Brothers, managing a comic book store as well as writing.[29]

The novelization was released in paperback by Berkley Publishing[30] and is 220 pages long. It includes several scenes later dropped from the film, such as Michael working as a trash collector for money to buy his leather jacket. It expands the roles of the opposing gang, the Surf Nazis, who were seen as nameless victims of the vampires in the film. It also includes several tidbits of vampire lore, such as not being able to cross running water and salt sticking to their forms.


Kiefer Sutherland's character, David, was impaled on antlers but does not explode or dissolve as do the other vampires. He was intended to have survived, which would be picked up in a sequel, The Lost Girls.[31] Scripts for this and other sequels circulated over the years; Joel Schumacher made several attempts at a sequel during the 1990s, but nothing came to fruition.[32][33]

David makes a reappearance in the 2008 comic book series, Lost Boys: Reign of Frogs, which serves as a sequel to the first film and a prequel to Lost Boys: The Tribe.

A direct-to-DVD sequel, Lost Boys: The Tribe, was released more than 20 years after the release of the original film. Corey Feldman returned as Edgar Frog, with a cameo by Corey Haim as Sam Emerson. Kiefer Sutherland's half-brother Angus Sutherland played the lead vampire, Shane Powers.[34]

In March 2009, MTV reported that work had begun on a third film entitled Lost Boys: The Thirst, with Feldman serving as an executive producer in addition to playing Edgar Frog, and Newlander returning as Alan Frog.[35] Haim, who was not slated to be part of the cast, died in March 2010. The film was released on DVD on October 12, 2010. A fourth film was discussed as well as a Frog Brothers television show[36] but with the dissolution of Warner Premiere, the projects evaporated.[36]

In October 2016, Vertigo released a comic book miniseries where Michael, Sam, and the Frog Brothers must protect Star from her sisters, the Blood Belles.[37]

In September 2021, a new film was announced, to be directed by Jonathan Entwistle, from a script by Randy McKinnon, starring Noah Jupe and Jaeden Martell.[38]


The Lost Boys:
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Lost boys soundtrack.jpg
Soundtrack album by
Various Artists
ReleasedJuly 31, 1987
ProducerVarious Artists
The Lost Boys soundtrack chronology
The Lost Boys:
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Lost Boys:
The Tribe

Professional ratings
Review scores

Thomas Newman wrote the original score as an eerie blend of orchestra and organ arrangements.

The music soundtrack contains a number of notable songs and several covers, including "Good Times", a duet between INXS and former Cold Chisel lead singer Jimmy Barnes which reached No. 2 on the Australian charts.[41] This cover version of a 1960s Australian hit by the Easybeats was originally recorded to promote the Australian Made tour of Australia in early 1987, headlined by INXS and Barnes.

Tim Cappello's cover of The Call's "I Still Believe" was featured in the film as well as on the soundtrack. Cappello makes a small cameo appearance in the film playing the song at the Santa Cruz boardwalk, with his saxophone and bodybuilder muscles on display. This scene was shown in Family Guy episode Prescription Heroine.

The soundtrack also features a cover version of The Doors' song "People Are Strange" by Echo & the Bunnymen. The song as featured in the film is an alternate, shortened version with a slightly different music arrangement.

Lou Gramm, lead singer of Foreigner, also recorded "Lost in the Shadows" for the soundtrack, along with a video which featured clips from the film.[42]

The theme song, "Cry Little Sister", was originally recorded by Gerard McMahon (under his pseudonym Gerard McMann) for the soundtrack, and later re-released on his album "G Tom Mac" in 2000. In the film's sequel Lost Boys: The Tribe, "Cry Little Sister" was covered by a Seattle-based rock band, Aiden[43] and appeared again in the closing credits of Lost Boys: The Thirst.


  1. "Good Times" by Jimmy Barnes and INXS – 3:49 (The Easybeats)
  2. "Lost in the Shadows (The Lost Boys)" by Lou Gramm – 6:17
  3. "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" by Roger Daltrey – 6:09 (Elton John/Bernie Taupin)
  4. "Laying Down the Law" by Jimmy Barnes and INXS – 4:24
  5. "People Are Strange" by Echo & the Bunnymen – 3:36 (The Doors)
  6. "Cry Little Sister (Theme from The Lost Boys)" by Gerard McMann – 4:46
  7. "Power Play" by Eddie & the Tide – 3:57
  8. "I Still Believe" by Tim Cappello – 3:42 (The Call)
  9. "Beauty Has Her Way" by Mummy Calls – 3:56
  10. "To the Shock of Miss Louise" by Thomas Newman – 1:21

Soundtrack charts[edit]

Chart (1988) Peak
Australian Albums (ARIA)[44] 44


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[45] 2× Platinum 140,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ a b "AFI Catalog".
  2. ^ McCool, Ben. "Looking Back At 'The Lost Boys,' The Best Comedy-Horror Vampire Film 1987 Had To Offer",, published October 30, 2015. Retrieved June 10, 2017.
  3. ^ Day, William Patrick (2002). Vampire Legends in Contemporary American Culture: What Becomes a Legend Most. United States: UPK. p. 29.
  4. ^ a b Oliver Lyttelton (2012-08-01). "5 Things You Might Not Know About 'The Lost Boys' on Its 25th Anniversary". Retrieved 2018-02-23.
  5. ^ The Lost Boys dvd promo. YouTube. 2004. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 2018-02-17.
  6. ^ a b The Lost Boys: A Retrospective (dvd). Warner Bros. Home Video. 2004.
  7. ^ a b The Lost Boys: A Retrospective, Warner Bros., published 2004. Retrieved June 10, 2017.
  8. ^ a b Renegade Geek (2019-05-27). The Lost Boys Panel - Jason Patric and Kiefer Sutherland. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 2020-02-08.
  9. ^ a b The Lost Boys: A Retrospective (dvd). Warner Home Videos. 2004.
  10. ^ "The Lost Boys Movie Filming Locations". Retrieved 2018-02-17.
  11. ^ "The total domestic gross for 'The Lost Boys' (1987)", Box Office Mojo, published June 10, 2017. Retrieved June 10, 2017.
  12. ^ "The budget for 'The Lost Boys' (1987)", The Numbers, published June 10, 2017. Retrieved June 10, 2017.
  13. ^ Roger Ebert (July 31, 1987). "The Lost Boys". Chicago Sun-Times.
  14. ^ James, Caryn (July 31, 1987). "Film: 'The Lost Boys'". The New York Times.
  15. ^ Showalter, Elaine. Sexual Anarchy: Gender and Culture at the Fin de Siècle. Virago Press, 1995, p. 183.
  16. ^ Variety Staff (1 January 1987). "The Lost Boys". Variety.
  17. ^ "The Lost Boys (1987)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 19, 2022.
  18. ^ "The Lost Boys". Metacritic. Retrieved 2020-05-04.
  19. ^ "Cinemascore". Archived from the original on 2018-12-20.
  20. ^ "Saturn Awards – Past award winners". Retrieved June 3, 2021.
  21. ^ Jøn, A. Asbjørn (2001). "From Nosteratu to Von Carstein: shifts in the portrayal of vampires". Australian Folklore: A Yearly Journal of Folklore Studies. University of New England (16): 97–106. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  22. ^ Eic Diaz (August 10, 2012). "Celebrating 25 Years of "The Lost Boys"". Retrieved August 1, 2017.
  23. ^ Rob Hunter (July 20, 2015). "32 Things We Learned From the What We Do In the Shadows Commentary". Film School Rejects. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  24. ^ "'The Lost Boys' – Horror Movies That Inspired Songs". Loudwire. Retrieved 2018-08-22.
  25. ^ "Gunship join forces with 'Lost Boys' sax man Tim Cappello and Indiana". Vanyaland. July 13, 2018. Retrieved 2020-11-16.
  26. ^ "Incubus release video for new single, Into The Summer". Kerrang!. August 23, 2019. Retrieved August 23, 2019. Incubus pay homage to The Lost Boys in the video for the first single from their upcoming new album.
  27. ^ "'The Lost Boys' Reunite at For the Love of Horror 2019". horrorgeeklife. 2 November 2019. Retrieved 2020-06-02.
  28. ^ Jenny Colgan (2001). Looking For Andrew McCarthy. HarperCollins Pub Ltd. ISBN 0007105533.: 256-260.
  29. ^ Reed, Patrick A. "Novelist Craig Shaw Gardner On Adapting Batman '89 For Prose". ComicsAlliance.
  30. ^ "The Lost Boys by Craig Shaw Gardner".
  31. ^ "Joel Schumacher Lost in "Lost Boys" Sequel". Rotten Tomatoes. 2007-02-04. Retrieved 2017-10-23.
  32. ^ Stephenson, Hunter (2008-08-13). "Kiefer Sutherland Talks Lost Boys Prequel, Tells The Tribe to FO". /Film. Retrieved 2017-10-23.
  33. ^ Lyttelton, Oliver (2012-08-01). "5 Things You Might Not Know About 'The Lost Boys' On Its 25th Anniversary". IndieWire. Retrieved 2017-10-23.
  34. ^ "Wanna know who The Lost Boys are?". Moviehole. 2007-08-29. Retrieved 2017-10-23.
  35. ^ "MTV Movies Blog » 'Lost Boys' Threequel On The Way, Corey Feldman To Return". March 18, 2009. Retrieved April 30, 2009.
  36. ^ a b Orange, B. Alan (2012-11-23). "The Lost Boys 4 Is Dead and the Frog Brothers TV Series Is Homeless". MovieWeb. Retrieved 2017-10-23.movieweb
  37. ^ Prudom, Laura (July 15, 2016). "The Lost Boys Sequel Comic in the Works from Vertigo (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety.
  38. ^ "New 'Lost Boys' Movie in the Works with Noah Jupe, Jaeden Martell to Star (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. 17 September 2021.
  39. ^ a b Harris, Mark H. (August 18, 2005). "The Cut-Out Bin #2: Soundtrack, Lost Boys (1987)". PopMatters.
  40. ^ "The Lost Boys - Original Soundtrack". Allmusic.
  41. ^ Elliott, Bart (May 14, 2015). "Jon Farris: INXS & Jimmy Barnes - "Good Times"". Drummer Cafe. Retrieved November 1, 2021.
  42. ^ Cabbage, Jack (October 27, 2008). "Lou Gramm: Lost in the Shadows (1987)".
  43. ^ Cabbage, Jack (October 26, 2008). "Gerard McMann: Cry Little Sister (1987)".
  44. ^ " – soundtrack – The Lost Boys". Hung Medien. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  45. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2002 Albums" (PDF). Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 27 December 2021.

Further reading[edit]

  • Patrick Day, William (2002). Vampire Legends in Contemporary American Culture: What Becomes a Legend Most. United States: UPK. ISBN 0813122422.

External links[edit]