In retrospect, it seems cinematically sinful to harbor nostalgia for a film directed by Joel Schumacher, he of the ubiquitous bat nipples. Yet, Schumacher’s 1987 horror comedy, The Lost Boys, carried enough charm and — alright, you pulled it out of me — style to merit an ungodly amount of repeated viewings. Precisely how many times that film played at slumber parties shall never be disclosed, but, damn if I didn’t have that poster on my wall for a good decade before tucking it into a closet for safekeeping. Obviously, it wasn’t an extraordinary film by any means, but it was an enjoyable ride with plenty of droll one-liners and an appealing cast — including Jason Patric, Jami Gertz, and Corey squared — all in their prime. Then, there was the awesomeness of Kiefer Sutherland (“You don’t like rice? Tell me, Michael, how could a billion Chinese people be wrong?”) and his vampire posse, including the one that looked like Twisted Sister, who leered menacingly on the carousel and vanished into the shadowy mist under rumbling railroad tracks. All of the strengths of The Lost Boys — curiously captivating characters, an alluring atmosphere, a seamless soundtrack, and an expectation-defying ending — made it an almost instant cult-classic.
Lost Boys: The Tribe carries forth none of the strengths of the original. Shitty sequels are nothing unexpected, of course, especially where a straight-to-DVD effort is concerned. However, Lost Boys: The Tribe is that rare sequel that manages to bear no substantial resemblance to the original film yet still manages to gangbang it into oblivion. Director P.J. Pesce (From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter) operates under the assumption that tossing more gore into the blender will somehow make the film scarier than it really is, which is to say, not scary at all. The soundtrack plays like AC/DC met some wimpy emo kid, shoved him in a locker, and slammed the door repeatedly at unexpected intervals. The script sort of attempts to parallel many aspects of The Lost Boys storyline, but a low budget means that none of the atmosphere is present, and the lone connection to the first film is, ridiculously, one Corey Feldman.
That’s never a good sign.
In the opening moments of Lost Boys: The Tribe, a group of surfer dudes, who just happen to be vampires, trespass upon the beach property of some irrelevant character portrayed by Tom Savini, who tells them to bugger off. Naturally, the vamps, led by Shane (Angus Sutherland) take him out and, with nothing else to do, proceed to appropriate his home and throw a massive kegger. Well, this is slightly less disappointing than what I expected from a sequel released 21 years after the original, but only for the floating head of Tom Savini. The sequel takes us, instead of the fictional Santa Carla with its carnivalesque boardwalks, to the rather decrepit surf city of Luna Bay, California. Then, we witness the arrival of two teenage siblings, Chris (Tad Hilgenbrink) and Nicole (Autumn Reeser) Emerson, who have, at some point in the past, lost their parents in a car accident. The pair’s brother-sister relationship is bloody close, and Chris’s disturbingly protective ways over his sister make Tony Montana of Scarface look positively catatonic. For her part, Nicole is the gullible, hedonistic little sister who just happens to drink the blood of the head vampire. So, now that Sis is a half-vampire, Chris must save her by killing the head vamp before Sis makes her first kill. None of that stuff is terribly surprising, but the mystery of exactly who these mysterious Emerson relations really are never gets answered. I think most of us can guess whose children that Chris and Nicole happen to be, but some effort at a backstory may just have helped the audience give a rat’s ass about these siblings.
That’s the main problem — an utter lack of legendary lore — with Lost Boys: The Tribe. No mythology presents itself to explain why this “tribe” of vampires even exists. It’s just some ex-surfing star that left the scene due to a debilitating injury and miraculously turned himself into a vampire. In fact, Shane and his “suck monkeys” are all surfers who used to be quite big on the scene. As surfers left the profession for similar reasons, Shane turned them into vamps too, so they can all surf again, kill hot chicks, and film it all on videocam. From the realization that this new tribe of vamps really are mere blood-drinking douchebags, things only get worse. These guys have no ulterior motive to their actions other than catching some tasty waves, like, forever. In fact, these vamps are so goddamn bored with their immortality that they play pranks on each other by stabbing each other in the abdomen and capturing the fallen intestines on videocam. For once, can’t a director make a film that features contemporary youth culture without mentioning YouTube? After all, watching a movie should be an escapist experience and, if nothing else, an opportunity to unplug from the internet. Yet, just like the ether that persists online, this film’s plot ploddingly propels itself for no other reason but that it has to do something. This is the same attitude with which the filmmakers toss in an obligatory sex scene that plays to a revamped version of “Cry Little Sister.” Don’t even get me started on that atrocity.
As expected, Corey Feldman makes his ingloriously triumphant return as Edgar Frog, whose voice is even more ludicrous than it was two decades ago. With all the frenzy of a man who realizes this is his last shot at stardom, Feldman works it, baby. Much of his dialogue is pulled straight from the first film, and Edgar is still hanging onto all those damn vampire comic books and shaving surfboards for a living. In addition, he also holds an ordained minister card, from the online association of ordained ministers or some shit, just so he can call himself “the Honorable Reverend Edgar Frog, Vampire Hunter.” As to Corey Haim, his return to glory has been reduced to a mid-credits cameo, which is actually far more entertaining than the entirety of the film. So, that’s not exactly the sequel that fans have been waiting for, but as a slight consolation, the straight-to-DVD sequel offers a few alternate endings, which is one thing a theater experience wouldn’t offer. To conclude, let us hope for greater things in store for Angus Sutherland, who seems capable enough to aim for cinematic immortality… someday.
Altogether, Lost Boys: The Tribe is just one massive fuck up with no excuses. Even the exceedingly low budget of the film this shouldn’t have acted as a default strike against it, for a director can, conceivably, parlay a lack of atmosphere into a minimalist, suspenseful set of thrill kills. However, Pesce chose to squander this limited wealth gone into countless buckets of blood, endless entrails, and Autumn Reeser’s hairstylist, who transforms those distressingly limp locks into oh-so-coveted preternatural ringlets. What a fucking waste. Again, when the best part of a film, arguably, is not the screenplay or the cinematography, but goddamn Corey Feldman, well, that pretty much says it all.
Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma and can be found digging through her poster collection at agentbedhead.com.The World Is Yours, Little Sister
Film | July 31, 2008 | Comments ()