Ginger Nuts of Horror
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My Life In Horror
Every month, I will write about a film, album, book or event that I consider horror, and that had a warping effect on my young mind. You will discover my definition of what constitutes horror is both eclectic and elastic. Don’t write in. Also, of necessity, much of this will be bullshit – as in, my best recollection of things that happened anywhere from 15 – 30 years ago. Sometimes I will revisit the source material contemporaneously, further compounding the potential bullshit factor. Finally, intimate familiarity with the text is assumed – to put it bluntly, here be gigantic and comprehensive spoilers. Though in the vast majority of cases, I’d recommend doing yourself a favour and checking out the original material first anyway.
This is not history. This is not journalism. This is not a review.
This is my life in horror.
Kill Your Brother. You’ll feel better.
Because here's the thing - sometimes you go back, and it’s bad. Not just ‘not as good as I remember’, not just ‘hasn't aged well’, I’m talking ‘actively god-awful, what the hell was I thinking, now I hate myself and the decade of my youth just a little more than I did before’ bad.
Way back when I talked about the WASP record The Headless Children, I noted how the album kind of broke down into three camps in terms of the individual songs, those camps being ‘actually, that’s still a legitimately good song’, ‘that’s obviously not great but I remember why I liked it’ and ‘how did I EVER think that was an acceptable use of my time?’.
But what to do when an entire movie falls into that final camp? How do you approach it when you have a movie that’s a no-brainer shoe-in for My Life In Horror - a movie that honesty dictates you must include, that was formative and hugely influential on 13 year old you - but also a movie that you saw more recently and detested? Despised? Flat out hated? Disliked it so much you felt ashamed of young you, and the holes in his critical thinking and evaluation so large that a garbage truck like this could be driven through it?
Tonight, I will attempt to provide an answer to that question. Tonight, armed only with a netbook, a bottle of Bulleit Bourbon, a tin Deadwood shot glass, a packet of Tunnock’s Caramel wafer biscuits, and a copy of the movie, I will attempt to channel 13 year old me. Talk to him, but also have him talk through me. Reason with him, in the unlikely event that such a thing is possible. Tonight, I aim to put that little goober straight, whilst also giving him the chance to make his tragically misguided case. A transcript of a commentary track recorded across time, if you will.
Wish me luck.
It’s time to talk about Lost Boys.
Old Kit: See, it’s not even started and I’m being trolled. Sky Movies Greats? That’s the channel they chose to broadcast this cinematic abortion? Was the schedule on ‘Sky Movies Nostalgic But Shit’ all full up with Tango and Cash reruns?
Young Kit: Sky clearly know more about good movies than you do.
OK: Shut up kid, I’m trying to watch this crap.
OK: 5 seconds in, and the drum and synth combination already make this irredeemable.
*directed by Joel Schumacher appears on screen*
OK: Prosecution rests Yer Honor.
YK: You’ve got issues, man.
OK: The gang looks like an MTV director's idea of what a group of rockers actually looks like.
YK: I think they look cool.
OK: I can’t believe I used to be you. Is that the shittiest cold open in the history of movies? Manages to simultaneously destroy any sense of mystery about if the gang are vampires, whilst still pretending to be coy. What’s the point? Terrible storytelling.
*People Are Strange starts playing, OK hits Pause*
OK: Okay, This. This right here. This is the fucking problem with this whole shitty movie, expressed clearly in a single song choice-over-montage. Everything that is facile, surface and putrid about this film is summed up right here.
YK: What the hell, man? It’s a fucking great song. When the guy sees the ‘murder capital of the world’ on the back of the road sign and shit, it fits really well. What’s your problem?
OK: My problem, dipstick, is that the song was originally written and performed by The Doors, one of the most iconic bands of the 60’s counterculture. It was originally written as an anthem of dispossession and alienation, expressing a zeitgeist of profound generational disconnect and mutual antagonism that genuinely seemed at the time to be tearing the fabric of the country apart, sung by an alcoholic, chronically shy poet who also thought he was The Lizard King and would invoke the spirit of Dionysus on stage while performing.
OK: So that version of the song exists and in it’s place we’ve got ECHO AND THE FUCKING BUNNYMEN COVERING IT. I ask you, who in the history of the human species has EVER listened to both versions of this song and thought ‘Yeah, no, let’s go with The Bunnymen version - it’s a little… cleaner?’ I’ll fucking tell you who…
YK: Joel Schumacher?
OK: Joel Fucking Schumacher. That one vapid, tepid, sterile choice tells you everything that’s wrong about what's to come. It’s a fucking travesty. The whole thing. And here at the 6 minute marker, we know all we need to.
YK: Okay, but can we actually watch the film now? Because I’m not getting any younger.
OK: Missing kids posters. Wow, subtle.
YK: ‘Nothin’ legal’! LOVE that line!
OK: Missing kids posters too subtle? don’t worry, here’s more! How fucking dumb do they think we are? Also, literally every single person in this film has bad hair.
YK: “You know what it means when there’s no TV? No MTV!” Come on man, that’s funny.
OK: I hate you so much.
OK: Are we supposed to suspect the old man in some way? And that line about all the corpses standing up would apply to any town or city of any size on the fucking planet. God this movie is dumb. And how old is Michael supposed to be? If it’s any younger than 30, we’ve got a problem.
OK: Oh God, the oiled sax player on the beach. I can’t watch.
YK: What? It’s cool.
OK: It’s a rock concert directed by someone who’s never, ever been to a rock concert. Or liked rock music. There’s people headbanging! To a saxophone. So dumb.
YK: You’re an uptight guy, you know that? That video store looks awesome. As does the comic shop.
OK: I’ll give you that. But WTF is Feldman wearing?!?
*Frog brother describes Feldman as a ‘fashion victim’*
OK: God fucking damnit!
YK: *laughing hysterically* You know nothing, Old Kit! This movie is smarter than you!
OK: The Frog brothers are not enough to redeem this atrocity of a movie. But they are so far the only remotely watchable part. That bit where the girl got onto Jack Bauer’s bike on the other hand was shot like a bad Bruce Springsteen video from the 80’s.
YK: I wouldn’t know.
OK: Fuck you.
YK: That old guy is hysterical
OK: That old guy is filler. Bad, pointless filler.
OK: Okay, I realise this is bordering on a cheap shot, given the era, but how is Star a functioning character on any level? As opposed to an object of desire? Granted this is only her second or third scene (and tellingly the first one where she gets any lines) but do any of her actions or statements in this entire movie work on any level approaching consistency or internal logic?
YK: How fucking cool is that line? “You don’t have to beat me Michael. You just have to try and keep up?”
OK: Precisely zero cool. And it plunges into anti-cool once the soundtrack kicks in for the bike race.
YK: Do you not like fun, or something?
YK: I wish I had a hangout like the Lost Boys. Look at that place.
OK: Shut UP. Oh God, it’s the noodles scene. Oh, but not before ANOTHER entirely pointless scene with Feldman and grandpa. Is this movie a million hours long?
YK: Well, if you will keep pausing it… Ohh, maggots!!
OK: ‘They’re only noodles, Michael’. I just got eye strain from the rolling. And why does Michael even want to be in this lame ass gang? It makes 100% no sense. And there’s a
FUCKING JIM MORRISON PICTURE
ON THE ACTUAL WALL OF THE VAMPIRE
HANGOUT ARE YOU TAKING THE FUCKING PISS?!?!!?
YK: Why do you care so much? Were you IN the fucknig Doors or sometihng? I mean you look old enough…
OK: Listen you little shit…
YK: Shh! I like this bit!
OK: Well, why wouldn’t you? It’s like someone described psychedelia to someone who’d never touched drugs, then that person directed someone else who’d also never done it to…
YK: Not that bit! This bit. The bridge bit.
OK: Why? Because the idiot headbangs for NO REASON?
YK: No, because it’s cool man, he thinks he’s gonna die…
OK: If fucking only. And he ends up back on his bed… how? And why does he go under the bridge in the first place? I mean, I get he’s not that bright, but come on. I’d also like to point out that we’re almost one third of the way through the running time of this movie, and almost nothing has happened, and none of what has happened has made any sense at all, and there has been exactly one funny line. Can I go to bed yet?
YK: Sure. I’ll stay up and drink your whiskey.
OK: The hell you will… Man, Michael really cannot act at all, can he? I mean, he’s a plank.
YK: Shh! Corey is singing along with that song in the bath! That falsetto is SO funny.
OK: He’s literally the only 13 year old in America that knows the words to that song. This is so dumb.
YK: He wakes up on the ceiling. That. Is. Awesome.
OK: It’s a nice idea, utterly ruined by Michael’s inability to do anything other than gurn.
YK: That bit where he picks up the phone while floating out the window… so funny.
OK: Kid, you don’t know what funny is. You’re out of your element. I also don’t buy Sam’s flip-flop here AT ALL. It’s that classic fault with a lot of horror movies that relies on people basically being as stupid as possible for the plot to progress. Gah, I hate that so much.
YK: It’s supposed to be funny!
OK: But Garlic in cloves doesn’t smell. It’s the most basic reality fail.
YK: Were you ever young?
OK: Fuck off. Oh lord, shitty ‘sex’ scene alert…
YK: Okay, yeah, even I have to admit this bit is bad.
OK: I may have mentioned it before, but this soundtrack is awful.
YK: It’s not that bad.
OK: Shut up. Get back to me after you’ve seen The Crow, okay? And I love how flying outside his brother’s window is no problem, but the magical healing dog bite throws him for a loop? Dumb dumb dumb.
YK: That bit with the dog is so cool.
OK: Pfft. ‘Kill your brother. You’ll feel better’ is a good line though. But are the Frog brothers meant to be delusional sad sacks who just happen to be right, or actual real vampire hunters? The fucking script flip flops almost line by line. In related news, how can you not tell the difference between grated parmesan and fucking garlic?
YK: It’s a great scene though. The way the tests each fail spectacularly, and Max’s little riff on ‘not trying to replace your father’. It’s fun. Do you even remember fun?
OK: Shh! It’s the one decent song on the whole soundtrack. You can almost hear it underneath the shitty dialogue.That also has to be the lamest, tamest mass murder ever committed to film.
YK: It’s not supposed to be scary, dickhead! It’s supposed to be fun. See? A closet full of stuffed animals. Hilarious.
OK: Funny like small pox. Why is he hiding under a duvet cover? Garlic? Holy water? Ring a bell, pillock?
YK: Ooh, the first staking! Come on, you’ve got to admit this bit is cool.
OK: Man, even the fucking Frog brothers are getting on my tits now. They’re so… ‘wacky’. Blergh. And is this supposed to be tense or atmospheric? It’s just so damn SLOW. And I’m really supposed to think either Frog is physically strong enough to drive a lump of wood clear through a vampire with ONE HAND? Do vampires have rib cages made out of cardboard? Because if not…
YK: Do I really grow up to be such a pedantic killjoy? Look, his hand caught fire in the sun! outstanding!
OK: Boy, was I easily pleased. Wow, that Plan A/Plan B dialogue was tortured.
YK: I know you meant to say brilliant. And I love this bit with the font water.
OK: Oh God, it’s the ‘big fight build up’ montage. Because we haven’t ticked enough cliche boxes yet. And I love how when your vampire mate is murdered, you just go back to sleep until sundown. Also, could they not afford effects shots of the vampires flying or what?
YK: This is a good scene with Max and Feildman’s mum.
OK: She’s a great actress. She deserved better. Also, this Frog dialogue is dumb - we just saw them totally shit the bed after staking one vampire, and now they’re giving it all ‘it’s never a pretty sight’. You may search in vain for consistency.
YK: Will you shut up? You’re missing the dog chase bit.
OK: Spoilers: They make it back to the house.
YK: Shut UP! Okay, I defy you to tell me that bit where the vampire explodes out of the fireplace isn’t cool.
OK: Pfft. It’s all right, but so what? And this fucking dialogue. “You Killed Marco!” “Yeah, and you’re next!” “No, YOU’RE next!”
YK: It’s supposed to be funny!
OK: It fucking isn’t. Can’t they all die, somehow? That’d be funny.Still, at least the Stephen Adler lookalike can go back to… wait, why is blood exploding out of all the plumbing? It makes NO SENSE!
YK: IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE FUNNY! This bit is awesome. The bow and arrow, fake out miss, ‘Only once pal’ - ‘Death by stereo!’
OK: Kill me now. Better yet, kill you.
YK: Here we go, the big standoff.
OK: Did that Frog brother really just call Feldman ‘Sambo’? This film is profoundly odd in places. And that was some unforgivable use of slo-mo right there.
YK: Oh hush. This is a great scrap.
OK: ‘My blood is in your veins!’ ‘So is mine!’ This is unforgivably poor. And now the shitty music and lingering smoke… no no no. This is everything that’s bad about music videos of the era, and it’s in a bloody movie.God, I’m so depressed.
YK: Here we go. Here comes Max. Fucking brilliant.
OK: It’s a good performance, I’ll give you that. It’s still a dumb twist though.Like, if he really wanted what he says he wanted, he could have had it on, like, page 20 of the script.Stupid stupid stupid…
YK: Here’s Grandpa!!!
OK: And just when you thought the shark couldn’t be more jumped, here, as you say, comes Grandpa. You do realise there is no reason at all for him to drive his truck into his own fucking living room? None, nada, before or after the scene. It happens just because the script needs it to happen. And as if to underline the point, it’s back to the shitty, inferior ‘People Are Strange’ cover for the end credits. Yup, that was every bit as underwhelming and woeful an experience as I remember it.
YK: It’s a fun movie. There’s some great action sequences, good makeup and effects. Some really funny lines. I’m sure it’ll hold up just fine.
Well, there you have it, the Kit Power-across-time commentary track for Lost Boys. One thing’s for sure - barring some truly extraordinary set of circumstances, I will never watch this godforsaken movie again. I guess for that alone I’ll have to call this a win. Still. Let’s never do this ever again.
Postscript: The morning after.
Because I have to be honest, that wasn’t as much fun as I’d expected it to be. Part of that may be down to the fact that I peaked early (at the six minute mark, to be precise, for those keeping score at home). But I think a lot of it is that last time I saw this movie 3 or 4 years ago, I actively hated it, and I’d just expected my reaction to be the same, and it… wasn’t. Maybe it was the presence of 13 year old me, or maybe it was simple recalibration. That first re-watch, I’d sat down with a head full of great memories, and then the movie just took a big shit all over them. This time… yeah, this time, expectations were basically grit-your-teeth low.
And guess what? As much as it pains me to admit it, as bad a movie as The Lost Boys undoubtedly is (and sorry, kids, but it really is a bad movie), that’s kind of all it is. It’s not an abomination, or an abortion, or an abject failure of the medium. It’s just a bad movie, that managed to get away with more success than it deserved in large part because of the elements that make it seem such a poor effort now - it’s slavish devotion to everything that was current in the pop culture when it was made, or at least in the most facile elements of that culture.
It’s just an overrated, bad movie, nothing more, nothing less. The last time I watched it I was outraged by the disconnect between the film I remembered and the dross I was watching. This time?
This time I was just bored. And that’s probably the healthiest reaction to have, honestly.
Should I ever want to revisit an actually good movie from around the same period of my childhood… well, there’s always Robocop. :)