The Lost Boys: It’s Not for Generation-X

Geeks intuitively embrace the 1987 vampire adventure The Lost Boys and have since its release. For the Gen-Xers, it was one of the cymbal-clashes of the age.

That was a vibrant summer, scored by Guns n Roses’ Appetite for Destruction and obsessed with the faddish rebirth of skateboarding.

guns

We boys were healing from The Mutant Massacre—the first major X-Men crossover event—and had stashed our hand-traced copies of the Level-9 map in sock drawers (just in case we ever wanted to slog through The Legend of Zelda again; I would—one other time—in my early 20s, already longing for a return to youth, but by then my copy of the skull maze was long, long gone).

The Lost Boys pulled its title from Peter Pan, a story about growing up. Its Neverland is distant Santa Clara, California—a dark carnival town full of mullet-sporting punkers. The billboard for the town claims it’s the “murder capital of the world,” but it seemed pretty awesome, really.

murder capital

It’s got roller coasters, comic book shops, and video stores—not to mention a killer beach party with a bodybuilding saxophonist and super-tough motocross shenanigans.

The movie didn’t scare me. It’s a film that I wanted to live in.

I wanted to be Michael, initiated into the vampire family over Chinese take-out. Or Sam, the pubescent obsession of every girl in my school that summer (both heartthrob Coreys are in the film, their first of many together). Or one of the Frog Brothers who are both believably tough AND run a comic book shop.

truth

The movie is a pop-culture romp for Gen-Xers; it’s Baby Boomers who were meant to be afraid, especially single mothers.

Lucy brings her boys to Santa Clara after a divorce in which she—following her 1960s impulses of hippy equitableness—left with nothing but her boys: not half of the estate, no alimony, no nest egg. Her father complains, “Lucy, you’re the only woman I ever knew who didn’t improve her situation by getting divorced.”

This is the bad decision that drives the horror story.

Since Lucy did not fight for her share, she must move her family from a Phoenix suburb to a town plastered with missing children handbills where her father lives. Once there, she can only find work at a video store owned by the (SPOILER ALERT) head vampire of the local clan, Max, who she begins dating. How was she to know that he was a devil worse than the one she knew in her ex-husband?

max

These decisions—to move back home after the divorce, to date a new man—are common enough for divorcees. They are the catalysts of the plot and lead to Michael’s conversion to vampirism.

Michael starts staying out late, sleeping in until early afternoon, and becomes sallow skinned. Lucy has no reason to suspect he’s anything but a pot-smoking teen that’s grown up too fast. She’s too busy working and dating to see that these are really signs that he’s becoming a bloodsucker. She doesn’t even know he’s fallen in love! The horror!

party

Meanwhile, her precious Sam is still her baby, but he’s acting out. He and his new friends intentionally sabotage her dinner with Max making her wonder whether the decision to date—and worse, to date her boss—was a good idea in the first place. This doubt is confirmed when Max reveals his plot to make her family a part of his evil brood.

Very few horror films target single mothers; they’re usually directed toward teen audiences. The Lost Boys uniquely essays on the coming of age of Generation-X in the wreckage left by the Baby Boomers.  For the aging hippies, it’s a warning about what kinds of monsters may be stealing their babies; for the kids, it’s a bugle call signaling our march into the 90s.

sax


Come visit Micah at Zionsville Books & Brews. He’s there a few times a week in the evenings.

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