Directed By PJ Pesce
Starring Tad Higenbrink, Autumn Reeser, Angus Sutherland and Corey Feldman
Yes, that’s right, rejoice, dear readers, for in the year 2008, The Lost Boys return in the unnecessary sequel that only Corey Haim and his imaginary friend Tito ever wanted. 20 years after Kiefer Sutherland and his glorious ‘80s mullet were slain by former child stars Corey Haim and Corey Feldman, Edgar Frog returns to do battle with the undead and try not to splinter himself with his stake collection. Does he succeed in his admirable goal? Do the two Coreys share their first onscreen kiss? Is the day saved by the awesome power of Dr Pepper? Read on to find out!
Nope, none of the above happens. But hey, cheer up big guy/little lady! There’s still vampires, and you like those, right? Right..?
I’m an unabashed lover of The Lost Boys, and have a huge soft spot for ‘80s teen ‘kids vs. evil’ horror comedies. While other kids were out leading productive lives, breaking each other’s jaws imitating Power Rangers or burning down housing estates, I wasted my childhood watching all manner of gory and/ or cheesy samplings of ‘80s movie madness. Give me a copy of The Monster Squad, Night of the Creeps or The Goonies, and I’ll be a happy chappy. No, seriously – give me a copy of The Goonies. As Seth Cohen taught us: You can never have too many. In that sense, I’m perhaps in the intended target audience for this film. I’m also not delusional enough to believe that a sequel to the original was ever a good idea, especially not 20 years after the fact and devoid of Kiefer or the hugely underrated Jason Patric (Go watch Narc, then tell me with a straight face that the guy’s not an immensely talented actor). There’s always been more chance of Corey Haim digging up the corpse of your great grandfather and licking the rotten cobwebbed beard off its face than there was of this being a good movie. Alas, a sequel now exists, and I being the glutton for punishment sat down and watched it so you don’t have to. Hold your grateful applause. You can thank me in the form of cash.
For the uninitiated, The Lost Boys is quintessential ‘80s horror comedy. Dragged to live with their quirky, crabby grandfather by their newly-divorced and flat-broke mother, brothers Sam and Michael Emerson quickly learn that the sleazy Santa Carla boardwalk isn’t all hugs and rainbows. After bumping into the alluring and mysterious Star when out surveying the nightlife, Michael finds himself up against her badass biker boyfriend and future Jack Bauer, Kiefer Sutherland, who –shock, horror – is a monster of the jugular-chomping variety. Sam, upon discovering his big brother has been unwittingly lured into the blood-swilling lifestyle, enlists the help of local comic book clerks and wannabe vampire slayers Edgar and Alan Frog to kill the head vampire, sever the vamp bloodline and save Michael from a life of sunscreen and garlic-free pizzas. Riddled with pop-culture references, an abundance of gags both awesome and cheesy as mozzarella, as well as gore a-plenty, the film has become an undeniable cult classic and semi-inspiration for Buffy: The Vampire Slayer’s quick-quipping, monster-jabbing antics. If you’ve yet to experience it, then go do so now. I’ll wait.
The sequel, unsurprisingly, may sound a tad familiar. Nicole Emerson (Autumn Reeser, who you may remember as Taylor Townsend from The O.C.) and her former pro surfer brother Chris (Tad Higenbrink, who you probably won’t remember from fellow straight-to-DVD sequel American Pie: Band Camp) move to Luna Bay to stay with their overbearing and less-than-hospitable aunt (She makes them pay rent! Gasp!). Invited to a party by fellow surf pro and all-round nasty head vamp Shane (Angus “I’m Kiefer’s brother, damnit!” Sutherland, who you might remember if you gave birth to him, but even then it’s a big maybe), Chris hesitantly drags his little sister along, where she is whisked away to a bedroom by Vampy McFangface, who (literally – I’m not kidding) shows her a magic trick, then has her drink his blood from a flask (Uninteresting Fact #1 – This is how David Copperfield seduces all his women and exactly why you should never hire magicians for your kids’ birthday party). With his sister now a pointy-toothed half-vampire hellbeast, Chris enlists the help of local surfboard shaper/ vampire hunter Edgar Frog (Corey Feldman, who you’ll know if you’ve ever watched a movie from the 1980s) to kill the head vampire, sever the neck-bitey bloodline and save Nicole before she makes her first kill and becomes a full-fledged bloodsucker. Phew.
While the original film wasn’t a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, it is a fondly-remembered movie for a reason – it’s an effective horror comedy with a likeable, talented cast and a funny and energetic script to boot and still holds up as an incredibly fun slice of ‘80s cheese. Lost Boys: The Tribe, however, essentially lacks all of the above.
The original had charismatic and interesting villains (who get bonus points for still being fearsome despite, or maybe because of their ostentatious wardrobes). They managed to snag the great Kiefer Sutherland, who could play ‘incredibly menacing’ in his sleep (and often does, much to the horror of those who’ve walked in on him napping) and whose filmography is chock-full of memorable villain roles (between The Lost Boys and his amazing turn as Ace Merrill in Stand By Me, Kiefer really seemed to want poor Corey Feldman deader than Corey Haim’s career). Hell, even Alex “I’m Bill, not Ted, assface!” Winter was in there. The Tribe, however, has fellow Donald Sutherland spawn Angus as its antagonist, who doesn’t do a whole lot of antagonising, instead delivering long and pretentious speeches in an accent so drawling and spotty and that it caused me to speak Scottish for several hours. He sports long hair to differentiate him from his cronies, but his funky ‘do pales in comparison to that of his ‘80s vamp forefathers. On the mullet scale of 1 to Patrick Swayze, his fluffy mane scores a paltry 2.
His vampire pals are equally devoid of any character or definable qualities. There’s Rastafarian Guy. I’ll give you 3 guesses what he’s like. The rest of the villains are interchangeable blue-eyed blond-haired surf Nazis. They watch TV, play video games, they videotape themselves injuring and disembowelling each other, and rather than being bestowed with anything resembling wit or intelligence, instead they inexplicably yell lines from other, much better movies at our hero (they quote The Big Lebowski and The Warriors, to name but two). They’re the MTV’s Jackass/ADD generation with fangs, and part of me would assume that maybe there’s some satirical condemnation present in how vapid, obnoxious and unfunny these characters and that section of today’s culture are. But nope – just awful writing on the part of Hans Rodionoff – illustrious screenwriter of just beloved masterpieces as Sucker: The Vampire, Man-Thing and The Skulls II. The new iteration of vampires are intended to be an “extreme” evolution of the badass biker vamps from the original, but it just leaves the viewer wondering how much glue they ate as children to become so retarded, and how long they have to wait to get staked.
The two leads aren’t especially bad, and both have proven capable enough actors in previous roles, but when given horrible material to work with, neither has the talent or the presence to redeem it. Hilgenbrink broods a lot, and occasionally words leave his mouth, but there’s nothing remotely funny or endearing about him, merely a void where his character’s personality should be. Aside from being admirably dedicated to protecting his sister, there’s not much leading you to root for him, aside from the fact that he’s our protagonist and logic dictates you should. Reeser doesn’t fare much better – she’s given little to do besides sway around like a drunken hippy as the head vamp’s lapdog for much of the film’s runtime, and by the time she’s actually done anything worthwhile, the credits are about to roll.
Corey Feldman – sporting his best Seth Gecko neck tattoo and gruff, raspy vocals that’d put Christian Bale’s batvoice to shame (Uninteresting fact #2: Feldman’s was paid in Strepsils for his services on this film) – alternatives wildly between being the best and worst thing in the film. When he’s given passable lines to work with, he’s the movie’s saving grace; he knows exactly how daft and cheesy a film he’s in and when thrown an eye-rollingly bad one-liner, he chews scenery like a rabid beaver loose in Paramount Studios and delivers with tongue-in-cheek aplomb. When he’s saddled with awful melodramatic dialogue that’d make Home and Away look like David Mamet, his lack of gravitas only serves to highlight how shoddily written the whole experience actually is. Still, he’s the highlight. He’s also given Father Time the middle finger and refused to age since 1988 – the guy still looks 25!
Corey Haim resurfaces from a 20 year drug binge for an utterly wretched end credit cameo that has the production values, quality of dialogue and acting ability that one might expect from a home movie remake of Dracula filmed by inbred and crippingly retarded 13 year olds in their back yard. The scene feels like a poorly-made fanfilm, and reeks of being an unpolished deleted scene haphazardly thrown into the credits. Perhaps aptly so – the scene was one of three alternate cameo endings shot for the movie after-the-fact, another of which featured an appearance by absentee Frog brother Jamison Newlander and features on the DVD/BluRay.
The film fails where the first left off in the comedy stakes (no pun intended), but does admirably attempt to make up for it in the blood and grue department with a great deal of practical messiness. Severed heads, exposed and eaten entrails – if gore’s your thing, there’s a lot to keep you satiated. Personally I would’ve preferred some more creativity in the vampire deaths; the last act of the first film is littered with fun and diverse kills and some rather spectacularly OTT practical effects. Here, aside from one great kill and a genuinely funny gag from Feldman, the whole thing ends rather limply.
Director P.J. Pesce attempts to inject some sense of style to the proceedings, with the rare instance of above average editing and camerawork and some effective cinematography, but a dead racoon lit by the wondrous glowing light of the sun is still going to stink up your yard.
The Lost Boys: The Tribe is a rather bizarre contradiction of sorts – too close to a remake to stand as its own film, yet too widely deviated from the tone, content and quality of the original to serve as a worthy sequel. Removing the brand name, it’d be no more than another straight-to-video mess littering the shelves alongside HellSmashers 4: The Poking, and Ninja Nun Squadron 3: Ninja Nuns in Space. Yet even with the name, writer Hans Rodionoff seems to have tossed aside all that made The Lost Boys worthwhile, eschewing likeable characters and funny dialogue in favour of blandness and even ignoring the rules of vampire death etiquette laid out in the first film and the overall look of said beasties. It’s a film destined to leave Lost Boys fans wondering what they did to deserve the spleen-punch that is this movie, yet not decent enough to entertain newcomers as a standalone film. Though it does meet the Philip J. Fry criteria for the best movie ever: “It has a vampire and an explosion!” Well, an exploding vampire, but still.
The original film and Buffy the Vampire Slayer set the bar pretty damn high for snarky pop-culture-laden vampire entertainment, and The Tribe doesn’t come close to contending. As a nostalgia trip, it’s a pointless exercise. Unless you’re a die-hard Feldman fan or have a bizarre psychological condition that forces you to watch everything Corey Haim has ever made, lest your brain implode (A disease that is officially known as C.H.V.S. – Compulsive Haim Viewing Syndrome, and one which is, sadly, terminal), then your time would be better spent sitting down and watching the original, followed by a liberal helping of Buffy and Angel.
Avoid the film. Read the T.V. Guide instead.
(Review originally published at WRAWReviews.co.uk)