CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT: FRIDAY NIGHT KNIFE FIGHTS
NEAR DARK (1987) vs. THE LOST BOYS (1987)
PART 3 of 3
With Michael Arruda, L.L. Soares, Paul McMahon, and Mark Onspaugh
MICHAEL ARRUDA: Good evening everybody, and welcome to Part 3 of FRIDAY NIGHT KNIFE FIGHTS. Tonight it’s the final segment of our NEAR DARK vs. THE LOST BOYS debate.
Up until now, it’s been all NEAR DARK.
LS: That comes as no surprise!
MA: After three rounds, it’s NEAR DARK 3, THE LOST BOYS 0. It’s time for the final rounds, where we’ll see if NEAR DARK continues its shut-out performance, as it hasn’t allowed THE LOST BOYS to score even one point yet. Or, will THE LOST BOYS finally muster some strength to get on the scoreboard and fight its way back to a comeback victory? Stay with us and find out.
Once again, I’m joined on our panel by L.L. Soares, Paul McMahon, and Mark Onspaugh. Thanks again for taking part.
MO: No problem.
LS: I say we skip the rest of the panel and grab some beers. We all know which movie is going to win.
PM: I don’t know about that, but the beer part sounds good to me.
MO: Me, too.
MA: Well, as good as it sounds, we don’t really know which film is going to win. There’s always room for a comeback. Let’s finish the panel.
LS: You’re never any fun!
MA: It’s time for Round 4. Which film’s director does a better job at the helm?
I’ll go first.
THE LOST BOYS was directed by Joel Schumacher, and the best thing I can say for it is the movie looks good. It’s a slick professional directing job by Schumacher. Too bad no one reminded him that he was directing a horror movie. I think he secretly thought he was making this for Disney, as it plays like PETER PAN: VAMPIRE.
LS: Good one!
MA: I can’t say that I liked the job that Schumacher did here. His work on THE LOST BOYS reminded me a lot of his two Batman movies—BATMAN FOREVER (1995) and BATMAN AND ROBIN (1997) —and that’s not saying much.
(The sound of someone gagging in the background)
MA: My favorite Schumacher movie is probably FALLING DOWN (1993) starring Michael Douglas, a movie I like much better than THE LOST BOYS.
LS: FALLING DOWN is a good one. I also enjoyed TIGERLAND and 8MM (both from 1999). So the dude is capable of making good movies. But the majority of his career has been garbage.
MA: So, it goes without saying, that I prefer the direction by Kathryn Bigelow on NEAR DARK. She did what Schumacher and the others who worked on THE LOST BOYS didn’t do: she took the subject seriously. NEAR DARK is a much more serious vampire film, and as a result, is a more rewarding experience, especially for the horror fan.
LS: But LOST BOYS does take some of its story seriously. It just completely drops the ball when it feels the need to add the Coreys’ lame storyline.
As for which of these two movies had better direction, I’ll put it this way. Joel Schumacher ruined vampires in LOST BOYS, and he ruined Batman. Just keep this guy away from BATS!
Schmaucher has been working for decades and never seems to get any better at directing. Kathryn Bigelow is another level. Another league! You can’t compare them.
NEAR DARK all the way.
MO: These are two very different films.
I thought Schumacher made a wise choice showing almost all the flying from the vamp POV – especially when we see the terror on the security guard’s face (and taking the car door with him was badass) or the couple necking in the car.
MA: That was terror? I thought he looked constipated.
LS: He’s right about one thing, though. Flying vampires look pretty goofy. The POV scenes made them less so.
MO: But the bar scene in NEAR DARK, with the beer mug of blood, death by spur, etc., and the bits like the “old” kid downed on his bike or Paxton picking up lovelies… and the aforementioned bleakness… I go with Bigelow. It’s funny how you can see NEAR DARK leading to THE HURT LOCKER (2008), and THE LOST BOYS leading BATMAN AND ROBIN (1997).
MA: Very true. Good point!
LS: One trajectory is leading up, and one is leading down. Guess which is which.
Jamie Gertz plays Star in THE LOST BOYS.
PM: Joel Schumacher made an interesting choice in casting the vampires of THE LOST BOYS as teenagers. Even if he only did it to heighten interest among moviegoers at the time, it was still something that hadn’t been done to death yet. He also blends the younger and older actors pretty well. A lot was done to make it all seem” cool,” in an effort to soften the horror. Scenes that should have packed an emotional wallop were glossed over for laughs. Did I mention that the film ends on a friggin’ punch line? I agree with Mark. You get a premonition of Schumacher developing into the director who would put nipples on Batman.
Kathryn Bigelow sets an evil mood in NEAR DARK, gritty and dusty with big open spaces and lots of leather and Stetsons, calling up the Western tropes she was going for.
LS: There’s even a scene with a horse and a tumbleweed, for chrissakes! (laughs)
PM: She blends the elements of the story together smoothly, and gets solid performances out of all of her cast.
At the end, she seems to lose control of the material, though. She uses some ridiculous ‘Hollywood’ explosions to wrap things up (a tanker truck doesn’t even finish jackknifing before it blows sky-high), and like I’ve said, Jesse and Diamondback seem to just give up. As much as I hated the punch line ending of THE LOST BOYS, it’s only a few seconds and doesn’t interfere with what’s come before.
I’m going with Joel Schumacher and THE LOST BOYS.
MA: Wow. I agree that the ending to NEAR DARK isn’t all that great, but you think Grandpa coming to the rescue is better? I think you just might have been distracted when you watched this one!
LS: I’ll say!
MA: Okay, Round 4 goes to NEAR DARK, even though Paul tried yet again to get THE LOST BOYS in there.
Which means that after 4 Rounds, it’s NEAR DARK – 4, THE LOST BOYS – 0.
LS: Can we leave and grab those beers now?
Jenny Wright as Mae in NEAR DARK.
MA: Not yet! Because now it’s the moment everyone’s been waiting for. The fifth and final round. And let me just remind everyone how the scoring works. With this final round, should we all choose THE LOST BOYS, then that’s considered a “knock out” and THE LOST BOYS would win this bout, even though it has yet to score a point.
MO (points to LS): That means he would have to choose THE LOST BOYS over NEAR DARK?
(They all start laughing.)
LS: I’m telling you, let’s go grab those beers!
MA: Not yet! Hey, stranger things have happened, but don’t quote me on that. I’m not making any predictions!
The final question is: If you had to pick, which film do you think is better?
Mark, take it away.
MO: For jokey, family fun (with some good makeup effects), I’d go with THE LOST BOYS. It’s also a good time capsule for 80’s fashion.
But, if it’s straight-up horror with style (my preference), I’d go with NEAR DARK. So, it’s NEAR DARK for me.
One final note: I don’t mind vampire films setting up different rules than the ones we are used to, if they adhere to them—on the TV series BEING HUMAN I am fine with vamps being out in the sunlight, but prefer vamps like those in TRUE BLOOD or NEAR DARK, where the sun is death.
THE LOST BOYS also sets that up, but seems to break several of its own rules when Edward Hermann casts a reflection and is not affected by holy water—I thought this was a cheap device to throw us off his scent as lead vamp—that lame “Don’t ever invite a vampire into your house, you silly boy. It renders you powerless.” quote by Edward Hermann doesn’t excuse this sloppy writing.
MA: I completely agree. It’s one of the lamest moments in the movie. It’s one of the lamest moments in the history of vampire movies, period!
MO: Finally, I will say the Eddie Munster reference in THE LOST BOYS made me
laugh. It’s probably the only line that did make me laugh.
LS: That’s funny. That’s the only line that made me laugh, too.
MA: Lucky you. I didn’t laugh. Paul?
PM: THE LOST BOYS tried too hard to be a comedy, and as such never really punched the fear or danger buttons for me. There’s nothing there to earn the R rating. If the film were released today it would be PG-13 without changing a frame.
NEAR DARK was more of what I want from a vampire flick—more evil, more danger, more blood, more creepiness. NEAR DARK doesn’t try to be “cool” and doesn’t shellac the scariness with jokes and wacky characters. Plus, if it came out today, it would definitely keep its R.
My pick for the best movie is clearly NEAR DARK.
MA: Truth be told, I’m not a fan of either movie.
I saw THE LOST BOYS when it first came out, opening to strong reviews, but I hated it. I thought it was silly, the humor a misfire, and I couldn’t get into it.
I saw NEAR DARK later, after word of mouth had proclaimed it an excellent vampire movie. I saw it, but wasn’t wowed. In terms of 80s vampire movies, I like FRIGHT NIGHT (1985) much better.
But to choose between the two, there’s no comparison. I’d go with NEAR DARK, hands down. I like its story better, and the overall feel of the movie is much more to my liking. It’s scary, gritty, and realistic. THE LOST BOYS is ruined by its goofiness, and simply put, it’s a joke that I didn’t find funny.
LS: Yeah, we don’t need to belabor this, do we? NEAR DARK is head and shoulders (and everything else) above THE LOST BOYS. And I think it’s better than your beloved FRIGHT NIGHT, too (even though it did have Roddy McDowell in it). But that’s another argument for another time.
MA: Yeah, maybe we should have done that one! Because FRIGHT NIGHT is way better than NEAR DARK! But like you said, that’s for another time.
Well, that’s it, folks. The final tally is—NEAR DARK – 5 and THE LOST BOYS – 0. NEAR DARK pretty much smoked THE LOST BOYS the whole way. It was never that close.
LS: I’m exhausted. Can we those beers now?
MA: Yes, now we can relax and have a drink. Okay, everybody, thanks again for joining us! And thank you Mark and Paul, for taking part. Until next time—.
Good night everybody!
(FADE TO BLACK)
© Copyright 2012 by Michael Arruda, L.L. Soares, Mark Onspaugh and Paul McMahon