Vampire-themed horror movies can leave many with nightmares that last forever, but what’s not to like about vampire horror? The seduction, the lust, the charm, the passion and of course, the violence and horror. The 1980s was crammed full of cult classic vampire movie feasts. The cheesiness, stereotypes and clichéd one-liners of these films make vampire horror worth seeking out, not only for its horror, but also for its humour.
The Lost Boys (1987)
Directed by Joel Schumacher. Featuring Jason Patric, Corey Haim, Corey Feldman, Kiefer Sutherland, Dianne Wiest and Jami Gertz
The Lost Boys is an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride that is full of cheesy entertainment but has enough action and suspense to be worthy of being a cult classic horror flick. The taut and unforgettable opening scenes provides an appropriate introduction to the suspense that is to come. The Lost Boys tells the story of brothers Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim) who have moved to Santa Carla, California with their mother (Dianne Wiest). Not long after arriving, Michael falls in love with Star (Jami Gertz) who leads him astray and into a bad crowd who turn out to be more than they appear. David (Keifer Sutherland) is head of the gang and lures Michael into temptation by offering him a drink of what Michael thinks is just wine but it turns out to be blood. Not before long, Michael begins to change. Meanwhile, his brother Sam meets Edgar Frog (Corey Feldman) in a comic book store. Edgar warns Sam to be prepared for vampires and provides him with a comic book manual on how to deal with them. Sam begins to notice the changes in Michael’s behaviour and calls on Edgar for help.
It is at this point that some of my favourite 80s one-liners are delivered (in a way that only Corey Feldman could): “…fighters for truth, justice and the American way…” Another favourite scene is when one of the vampire gang members is impaled by a stereo and Edgar declares “death by stereo”. Without giving away too much more of the story, suffice to say that what ensues is a classic cheesy 80s movie that well and truly lives up to its cult status.
In addition to the awesome storyline, great acting and cheesy one-liners, the other thing I love about The Lost Boys is the music! ‘I Still Believe’ by Tim Cappello and ‘Cry Little Sister’ by Gerard McMahon remain on my playlist to this day. ‘I Still Believe’ plays in the background of the fair where Michael first meets Star and Tim Cappello actually appears bare-chested, oiled-up and playing the sax…what more do you need for 80s cheese!!!
The Lost Boys will remain a cult classic for years to come for its treatment of the vampire horror theme, as well as its unique characters, comedy and thrills. I will never get bored of this movie.
Annabelle’s Rating: 4.5/5
Fright Night (1985)
Directed by Tom Holland. Featuring William Ragsdale, Chris Sarandon, Roddy McDowell, Amanda Bearse and Stephen Geoffreys
Fright Night is another cult 1980s vampire movie. In fact, it is such a classic that it spawned a sequel in 1988, and inspired a remake in 2011 as well as a remake sequel in 2013. It was even re-made in Bollywood!! The original Fright Night tells the story of teenager Charlie Brewster (William Ragsdale) who has new neighbours arrive next door. Not long after they move in, Charlie spots through his bedroom window one of the neighbours, Jerry Dandrige (Chris Sarandon) having sex. What Charlie sees is not normal though and Charlie glimpses fangs and claws. After hearing news stories of murders involving mutilations, Charlie suspects his neighbour to be a vampire and thus calls the police. The police arrive and laugh him off thinking that he is just a teenager causing trouble. What ensues is a war between Charlie and his new neighbours. Desperate to find someone that believes him Charlie tries to track down his TV hero Peter Vincent (Roddy MacDowall), a supposed ‘vampire hunter’. However, Peter Vincent turns out to be not much more than a fake and dismisses Charlie’s pleas. Charlie’s girlfriend Amy Peterson (Amanda Bearse) and his best friend Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffreys) see Charlie’s desperation and attempt to prove him wrong by paying Vincent to come and visit Jerry’s house.
Of course nothing happens when they are in the house so the three friends walk home with Evil Ed making fun of the situation. However, not much later, Evil Ed is turned into a werewolf by Jerry. Jerry then chases Amy and Charlie and they become trapped in a nightclub aptly named ‘Club Radio’. This is one of my favourite cheesy cliché scenes in the movie – it is where the vampire lust and passion takes over Amy and she loses control in Jerry’s arms. The music in the club is also a classic 80s sound!
Despite the cheese, comedy and clichés, Fright Night delivers some spectacular gory horror via some great special effects, which were pretty high quality for their day. Fright Night is another classic cult vampire movie of the 1980s and is well worth the watch as long as you are willing to accept the large dollop of cheese. The soundtrack does not quite live up to The Lost Boys but there are enough good songs in the nightclub scene to allow you to get your 80s music fix at the same time.
Annabelle’s Rating: 3.5/5
4 thoughts on “Vampire-fest: 80s Cult Horror at Its Best – The Lost Boys vs Fright Night”
Ah, The Lost Boys. The film which kept the mullet cool, which made Chinese food scary and which reminded us why it is necessary to keep a wolf as a pet. No one… NO ONE… made a better house under siege final scene until Dog Soldiers (2002). It is a film which channels all the wit, grace and charm of the 1980s into memorable dialogue like, “My own brother! A God-damn, shit-suckin’ vampire. Well, you wait till mom finds out!” Thanks for an awesome, nostalgic review. Can I request a follow up? Vampire-Fest II – The Sequel, if you will. You can’t talk about The Lost Boys without mentioning the film it eclipsed Near Dark (1987) – Katherine Bigalow’s darker rural take on the same story, “We fought in the civil war… we lost.” Or you might consider A Return to Salem’s Lot (1987) by Larry Cohen. The sequel to the best Stephen King adaption this side of Misery (1990). Come to think of it 1987 was a good year for vampires.
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Thanks for the suggestions maybe the 80s vampirefest will have to make a comeback in 2019!
Thanks Annabelle, a good trip down memory lane, I loved both those movies growing up. The best line in Lost Boys was the grandfathers after crashing into the house “Thats whats wrong with [this place?], too many god damned vampires”.
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Thanks Doug! Definitely a cult movie for sure