Death by Stereo: Innocence Lost in ‘The Lost Boys’

This guest post by Bethany Ainsworth-Coles appears as part of our theme week on Movie Soundtracks.

Spoilers Ahead

The Lost Boys is a classic 1980s vampire flick directed by Joel Schumacher. It is as famous for its soundtrack as it is for its content. The entire film in fact is exemplified in its main theme–“Cry Little Sister,” by G Tom Mac–from the typical horror themed sections to its classic 80s rock moments down to its choral moments. These sections sum up the film almost perfectly.

The film itself seems pretty simple; Lucy (and her two sons Michael [Jason Patric] and Sam [Corey Haim] move to Santa Carla to live with Lucy’s dad in Santa Carla. However, Michael falls in with a bad crowd and is seduced into being a vampire by David (Keifer Sutherland), the pack’s leader. There is of course more to it than this (a pair of vampire hunters, a small child, and a generic love interest), but that’s the main gist.

[caption id="attachment_13475" align="aligncenter" width="377"]The vampire teens The vampire teens[/caption]

 

“Cry Little Sister” links to this film perfectly, the way only the best movie themes do. I’m organizing this article in three subtitled sections, which employ quotes from “Cry Little Sister” in relation to parts in the film.

“Love Is With Your Brother”–Homoeroticism and Forgotten Women

In an article about The Lost Boys it would be a travesty to dare forget the amounts of male bonding and homoerotic tension. The vampires and their culture in particular is shown in this light with the androgynous (and gorgeous) David, the supposed leader of the gang as they steal and kill people to feed. He also seduces Michael into drinking the blood, thus beginning his transformation into a vampire.  This is an interesting twist on the female seductress trope as seen in most vampire movies. This twist is best summed up Jeff Allard in his review: “Typically (especially today in our Twilight world), either Michael or David would’ve been written as a girl but in The Lost Boys you’ve got a male bringing another male into the fold.”

This is certainly true if we look at typical vampire stories–e.g. Edward turns Bella in Twilight, Dracula turns Lucy Westernra in Dracula, etc. The victim is often the woman and is seen as weak and inferior; by subverting this, Schumacher includes not only an equal playing field but also huge amounts of sexual tension. Especially as in most vampire novels, films etc. the transformation into vampire is often treated incredibly sexually. While this isn’t the first time a man has turned a man into vampire (Anne Rice’s Interview With a Vampire, which is also homoerotic) it is a very interesting occurrence that should not be avoided. David even takes him to his first feed on human blood.

[caption id="attachment_13476" align="aligncenter" width="320"]Michael (Jason Patric) looking lovely Michael (Jason Patric) looking lovely[/caption]

 

The women throughout this are mainly forgotten and depicted in two major roles: the sister or the mother. All the boys share a bond shown throughout the film. Through the vampires themselves, who are the “sons” of Max (Edward Hermann), to the actual brothers of The Frogs (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander) and of course are main brothers Sam and Michael. Most of the story revolves around Michael’s betrayal of Sam from trying to attack him when the first gets too great. Sam chooses to help him and save him from the Frogs’ vampire killing obsession.  This is shown equally in the song “Cry Little Sister” with “love is with your brother,” which repeated several times throughout the song, reinforcing its importance in the piece.

“The Masquerade, Strangers Will Come”–Broken Families

Whilst brotherhood may be a strong point in the film, families themselves are not shown to be as sturdy.  Lucy has had a messy divorce, which is the reason she and her boys have moved to Santa Carla. They themselves despite their non-functional new lives get along well and cracks only appear when Lucy dates Max and Michael becomes half vampire.  However, this family is not the most interesting of the families. It’s not even the Frog family, who we only see very briefly as a whole unit.

[caption id="attachment_13477" align="aligncenter" width="400"]Lucy and her family at the end Lucy and her family at the end[/caption]

 

It has to be Max and the boys. Max is the head vampire but has lost control of his boys and is longing to find them a mother, a role he thinks Lucy would be just perfect for. He does genuinely love his boys though, especially when as he walks into the house the final time he sees David’s body.

However, this twisted family image also encapsulates the portrayal of women. During this film, both Star and Lucy take on maternal roles. Lucy, of course, is already a mother, and Star looks after Laddy (the child half vampire). They are both shown to be manipulated by the vampires into becoming family members and helping the group.

“Thou Shall Not Fall”–Innocence Lost

“Cry Little Sister” features a large section of choral vocals repeating religious-type phrases sung by what sounds like children. These are used to great effect during the final scene, where David is impaled and killed by Michael. During this section, once he is impaled, his face slowly regresses back to a child and how he was before he was turned into a vampire thus showing him as an innocent young boy rather than a dead monster.  David’s death accompanied by “Cry Little Sister’s” faded choral section singing “thou shall not die” gives the audience just a glimpse of who he was before Max transformed him, probably like Michael against his will. The audience is presented with the horrible truth that David and all the vampires were just missing children shunned by their leader. In death for both David and Marko (Alex Winter, who is the first to be killed and youngest of the boys) they are taken back to being lost children.

[caption id="attachment_13478" align="aligncenter" width="500"]David looks noticeably younger David looks noticeably younger[/caption]

 

“Cry Little Sister” is the perfect song for a fantastic horror movie. Whilst the movie certainly isn’t flawless, it really is an excellent take on the vampire genre (plus who in their right mind doesn’t like teen vampire with cool hair, leather jackets and motorbikes who lives in an abandoned hotel?). They are living the twisted teenage dream and the soundtrack portrays that perfectly.


Recommended reading: Boomer Beefcake and Bonding’s analysis of subtext in The Lost Boys


Bethany Ainsworth-Coles is a young writer from England who enjoys overanalyzing things and watching films. She tweets over at https://twitter.com/wierdbuthatsok.