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The Movie Tourist Visits The Santa Carla Boardwalk From ‘The Lost Boys’

The Lost Boys is a 1987 thriller about two brothers who discover that the area they’ve just moved into is a haven for vampires.

“On the surface Santa Carla might seem like the quintessential California beach town, with a vibrant boardwalk scene. Okay perhaps there might be a worryingly high number of unusual disappearances but for some they will do anything to make sure the partying never stops like those darn vampires.”

The vampire genre has always suffered from being something of a cliché beast, constantly reworking the usual well worn tropes of gothic castles and questionable accents but with the dawn of the 80’s we finally started to see the genre being tweaked in interesting ways with the likes of Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark portraying her vampires as a nomadic group while Tom Holland’s Fright Night moved them into the house next door with the horror fan Charley discovering that his neighbour Jerry is a vampire. With The Lost Boys though, director Joel Schumacher gave us vampires who are more keen on spending their eternal life as one continuous party.

Lost Boys
The Lost Boys, 1987 © Warner Bros.

Shot on location in Santa Cruz, California where Schumacher utilised the picturesque Pogonip open space preserve and surrounding mountains as well as most keyly the boardwalk where the film essentially provides us with many of its key moments. Originally the script had also kept Santa Cruz as the name of the town only for the city council to object to the town being portrayed as the “murder capital of the world” and blocking their requests for filming permits. Ironically it was the true crime history of Santa Cruz which had attracted the producers in the first place, with the late 1970’s earning it the moniker of Murdersville, USA after it became the hunting ground for a trio of serial killers Edmund Kemper, Herbert Mullin and David Carpenter.

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Shooting the boardwalk like a twilight playground with its fun fair atmosphere from the various game stalls and rides, it all sits in the shadow of the roller coaster “The Giant Dipper,” bringing back memories of Coney Island in the opening of The Warriors. It makes for an interesting contrast to have the film take place largely in this coastal town, while the mountain range where the grandfather’s house is located only further reinforces how different the setup for the film is compared to what we have become used to from the genre. Schumacher is clearly keen not to just make your traditional vampire movie and really makes the most of the setting, be it by moving the camera through the crowds or flying with his vampire brood, you really get a great sense of what the town and its surrounding area are like.

Lost Boys
The Lost Boys, 1987 © Warner Bros.

The real key moments of the film however can all be found lingering around the boardwalk as it’s here we are introduced to the charismatic David (Kiefer Sutherland) and his fellow lost boys. The comic book store where we are introduced the Frog Brothers and the bandstand where let’s not forget we are memorably introduced to sax guy and his purple PVC pants. This is also another location whose smaller details really stand out on repeat viewings such as the missing person posters highlighting the victims of the vampires such as the lost child milk carton we see for Laddie (Chance Michael Corbitt).

Lost Boys
The Lost Boys, 1987 © Warner Bros.

The boardwalk though really makes a perfect hunting ground with the Lost Boys riding on the carousel each interestingly being introduced in the order they will later be dispatched. Here they are seen merely as a group of troublesome punks as we see them gliding like sharks through the crowd, looking for their next prey, which generally seems to be whoever is annoying them at that moment as seen by the fate that befalls the boardwalk security guard who chases them off.

While the gang obviously take their name from Peter Pan, the original script, written by Jan Fischer and James Jeremias, more interestingly used the idea of Peter Pan as a vampire who visited Wendy and her brothers at night, never growing old and could fly. Schumacher, however, wanting something sexier, axed the idea and turned the vampires from 5th – 6th graders to their more familiar teenager form.

Lost Boys
The Lost Boys, 1987 © Warner Bros.

Moving on to the comic book store is where we meet the Frog Brothers Edgar (Corey Feldman) and Alan (Jamison Newlander), a pair of self-proclaimed vampire hunters whose wardrobe seems to have been picked up at a Chuck Norris yard sale while their only knowledge of vampire hunting seemingly comes from the horror comics they sell in particular the comic book Vampires Everywhere, which serves as the vampire hunting bible for the film. These scenes were shot at the Atlantis Fantasyworld comic book store, which is still owned by Joe Ferrara II, who has a cameo in the film as one of the two guys playing pinball in the store. Ferrara even allows anyone who shops in the store to hold it and take a photo free of charge. Sadly the original store where the film was shot was destroyed along with the bandstand by the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, though thankfully the comic was saved and moved to the store’s new location. The comic that was created for the film also has it’s opening page signed by all the cast.

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The fact that the Frog brothers work in a comic book store brings an interesting yet subtle spin to their characters as we’d no doubt expect to find them working in Max’s Video Store where more bizarrely Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam’s mother Lucy (Dianne Wiest) get a job. After all, what is a video store if not a den of movie nerds who no doubt could draw upon the countless vampire movies on the store shelves for their knowledge base. Schumacher does justify this choice though as the comic book constantly is being used by Sam (Corey Haim) as a reference to make sense of the numerous strange things happening in the town in particular his attempts to find the head vampire.

Lost Boys
The Lost Boys, 1987 © Warner Bros.

The last location of note on the boardwalk though is the bandstand which tends to be overshadowed by the Sax guy ,played here by session musician Tim Cappello, who with his purple PVC pants, oiled toned physique, chains and ponytail makes him one of the less forgivable 80’s casualties. However, despite his crimes against fashion, it’s his cover of The Call’s I Still Believe that steals the scene to the point that we often forget that it’s here that Michael is first enchanted by the half-vampire Star (Jami Gertz) and, in turn, drawn in by the dark and broody David, a role which really saw Sutherland playing up his strengths from this era. Still the popularity of the Sax guy character saw him turning up in the direct to DVD sequel Lost Boys: The Tribe as an overweight street busker.

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While the film has gone on to find a large cult following, its effect on horror cinema can still be felt. It introduced a reckless youth element to the vampire mythos, which in recent years has been watered down by ‘tween entries like the Twilight saga and the Vampire Diaries, a far cry from this film. Its failed to recapture the magic with a pair of DTV movies and spin off comic book series following the Frog Brothers, but this still unquestionably remains an essential entry in the vampire genre.

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