I have a 13-year-old “new teen” and a 20-year-old college kid who both love Halloween. They are both now past the trick-or-treat phase, but they still want to do something fun and spooky as a family.
Well, there’s always a scary movie night.
With an age gap of seven years, finding a good mix of something fun and scary enough for the “grown kid” but not a full-on gore fest for an eighth grader is the focus. Then I remembered one of my own Halloween season favorites, The Lost Boys, turned 35 this year!
The Lost Boys was actually a summer movie that first hit the big screen on July 31, 1987. That was a big year for me, as it was the summer after my senior year of high school and just before college. You always remember that summer, and for me, it included The Lost Boys.
My big brother saw it when he was home for the summer, and he insisted I go see it. I wasn’t that interested, as I was never into the angsty teen movies of the ’80s. He assured me it was different, and I would love “the kids.” The kids, in reality, were all only a year or two younger than me, but I knew whom he meant: the Frog brothers!
Yes, they were awesome, as was Grandpa. Today, if you re-watch the movie, you’ll see signs Grandpa was prepared for the vampires from the start, including the big giant wooden stakes he kept as fence posts and piled in the back of his jeep. Cool!
The film’s anniversary has been marked by a 4K return to theatres this month, but it has been played in theatres for special seasonal showings throughout the years. Plus, there were a couple of straight-to-vide sequels (I haven’t seen them) and a comic book.
Yet, it is the original movie that holds up, especially for a Gen X parent like me. Seeing The Lost Boys became one of my favorite memories before college, and this would be a great year to share it with my girls.
Remember the first sighting of the ominous back of the “Murder Capital of the World” sign? Remember the oily weird saxophone player (who is now an ’80s icon)? Remember the cool punk/metal outfits of the vampires? Remember all of Grandpa’s one-liners, especially the final line of the movie:
“One thing about living in Santa Carla I never could stomach: all the damn vampires!”
My oldest had already seen it more than once but was excited to share it with the little sister. The movie was rated R in the late ’80s, but today it would likely be a PG-13. There’s no nudity (the “lovey-dovey” scene is brief), and the profanity is pretty mild for today. There are a few vampire-style gruesome scenes, but parents know the level of scary scenes their own kid can handle and can be the judge.
In order to make it special, I borrowed an idea from the “movie parties” at cinemas like Alamo Drafthouse have been doing. I printed out a template for a Chinese take-out container, filled it with gummy worms, and added a “holy water” label to bottled water and juice. Dinner that night was spaghetti with a nice garlicky sauce.
I gave them each their “worms” before the film started, and we settled in. It is now in both my girls’ top-five movie picks, and being able to share something from my own teen years with them made it extra wonderful.
After the movie, I pulled up a video by Grim Life Collective showing the filming locations of the movie, and we made a night of it. We talked about the fashion (what works and what doesn’t), the soundtrack, and where else the girls have seen some of the actors.
It is always a cool feeling to see your kids get into the same movie you loved when you were around their age. Not a remake or a next-gen sequel (which are all fine if you like them), but the same actual movie.
Hard to believe it’s been 35 years since Grandpa got as “close to town” as he liked to get, and now I get to take my own kids there.