Lost Boys: The Tribe (2008)


USA. 2008.


Director – P.J. Pesce, Screenplay – Hans Rodionoff, Producers – Phillip B. Goldfine & Basil Iwanyk, Photography – Barry Donlevy, Music – Nathan Barr, Music Supervisor – Julia Michels, Visual Effects Supervisor – Jason Gros, Special Effects Supervisor – Darren Marcoux, Makeup Effects – Schminken Collective Group, Production Design – Tony Devenyi. Production Company – Thunder Road/Hollywood Media Bridge


Tad Hilgenbrinck (Chris Emerson), Angus Sutherland (Shane Powers), Autumn Reeser (Nicole Emerson), Corey Feldman (Edgar Frog), Gabrielle Rose (Aunt Jillian), Moneca Delain (Lisa), Kyle Cassie (Jon), Shaun Sipos (Kyle), Merwin Mondesir (Erik), Greyston Holt (Evan), Tom Savini (David Van Etten), Daryl Shuttleworth (Sheriff McGraw), Corey Haim (Sam Emerson), Jameson Newlander (Alan Frog)


Following the death of their parents, Chris Emerson and his teenage sister Nicole move to Luna Bay to stay with their Aunt Jillian. Chris is a former top professional surfer. He meets former surfing champion Shane Powers who invites Chris to a party he is holding. Nicole insists on coming to the party too and Shane proceeds to seduce her. Afterwards, Chris finds Nicole acting strangely. He meets Edgar Frog who tells him that Nicole has drunken the blood of a vampire and is about to become one as a result. The only way to save her is if they can prevent her from making her first kill, as well as killing the head vampire Shane. In order to get close enough to kill Shane, Chris pretends to join the gang – but to do so he must drink the blood of a vampire himself.

The Lost Boys (1987) was one of the hits of the 1980s. It was a dreadful film, overrun with Joel Schumacher’s flashy style-heavy visuals and not having much serious substance as a vampire film. It was however undeniably popular. This was the point where the vampire started to make a move from caped seducer of darkly mysterious charisma to outlaws or in this case mildly badass teens (who all gave the impression they had just stepped out of an MTV boy-band clip and had been selected solely for their pretty looks). For a number of years, Joel Schumacher was planning a sequel tentatively to be titled The Lost Girls, although this never emerged.

After 21 years, Lost Boys: The Tribe finally emerges as that sequel. It maintains connection to the original by featuring a return performance from Corey Feldman (who looks almost no different despite twenty years difference between the two films). There is also Angus Sutherland who has clearly been cast because he is half-brother to Kiefer Sutherland who played the equivalent role of the vampire gang leader in the original. (If one waits until the middle of the credits, there is also a return appearance from Corey Haim). The plot closely follows the original – featuring two new kids also named Emerson (although we are given no suggestion that there is any relation to the family in the first film) who move to a small beach town to stay with a relative, and a brother who struggles to save his sibling who has been seduced by a cool vampire gang and is about to become one of them.

Lost Boys: The Tribe is made by P.J. Pesce, a director who seems to specialise in sequels, having also made From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter (2000), Sniper 3 (2004) and Smokin’ Aces: Assassins Ball (2010). Pesce hits in with an opening that stands Lost Boys: The Tribe in promising stead. A group of surfers jump over a wall to go surfing on a private beach where the owner turns out to be no less than cult makeup effects artist Tom Savini. When Savini turns up, you keep wondering if he is going to reveal that he is a vampire. He does, but in an amusing about-face the surfers reveal they have fangs too and turn and gorily devour him, before playing football with his severed head. It is a gutsy opening laced with a dark sense of humour that promises good things for the film to follow.

P.J. Pesce welcomely leaves behind all the trendy poses of the first film. This is an altogether different Lost Boys – one that is no longer pitched to an 80s teen MTV demographic but is more adult in focus, featuring sex scenes and plentiful gore. There is also a strong undertow of black humour – notably the two gang members who run around stabbing and gutting one another as a prank (the film never deigns to tell us whether this is a practical joke or their vampire nature allows them to instantly regenerate).

The vampires have been given an update. Rather than refugees from an 80s boy band, they are now adrenalin junkie vampires. Unfortunately, this does lead to the one thing that shoots Lost Boys: The Tribe in the foot and from which it never recovers – and that is the concept of surfer vampires. Yes, SURFER VAMPIRES!!! It is the laughable concept that might have been dreamed up a decade ago by people attempting to make another conceptual parody vampire film – see the likes of My Best Friend is a Vampire (1987), Vampire on Bikini Beach (1988), I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle (1990), Vampire Trailer Park (1991), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992), Vampire Vixens from Venus (1995), Mom’s Got a Date with a Vampire (2000) and Kung Fu Vampire Killers (2001). To its credit, the tone of the film is not as absurd as The Lost Boys and P.J. Pesce conducts proceedings reasonably seriously – it’s just that when your brain tries to process the idea of surfer vampires you have difficulty stopping yourself laughing. The most absurd sequence is where the surfer vampires go crazy on motorcycles and skateboards outside the police station and lead the cops on a chase. It is a sequence that seems only there so that the film can throw in a display of self-consciously showy stunt work.

One plus about the film is Angus Sutherland, who has a Nordic pretty boy sexuality and a quietly understated yet strongly ambiguous presence that is undeniably captivating whenever he is on screen. Unfortunately, not much can be said for the rest of the cast. Particularly poor is hero Tad Hilgenbrinck who looks like someone with a squat build and a musclebound upper torso who stomps through the film too ugly and inexpressive to give much life to the heroic camp. Corey Feldman turns up and is stuck with the same role – a parody of a vampire hunter – without realising he is in a completely different film from the first one, with the result being that he seems totally out of place.

Lost Boys: The Thirst (2010) was a subsequent sequel also featuring Corey Feldman.

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