by sean mccourt

Sentinel correspondent

"Sleep all day. Party all night. It's fun to be a vampire"

As many fans of horror films and '80s pop culture know, the preceding slogan was the tagline for "The Lost Boys," a locally beloved movie celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and enjoying cult classic status more than ever. Shot on location in Santa Cruz — redubbed "Santa Carla" in the shooting script — during the summer of 1986, and released on July 31, 1987, the film about a gang of teenage vampires terrorizing a coastal community has garnered an immense and loyal following over the years.

In conjunction with the Boardwalk's 100th anniversary celebrations, and marking the two decades since the release of the film, a special outdoor screening of "The Lost Boys" will take place on Wednesday, projected on a huge movie screen to be erected on Main Beach. Several actors from the film will be in attendance for the fete, including Brooke McCarter, Billy Wirth, Jamison Newlander and Chance Michael Corbitt, who will meet and talk with fans.

McCarter, who played the teenage vampire Paul, is in awe of the cult status that "The Lost Boys" has achieved over the past 20 years — and of the devotion of fans that he meets.

"I can't believe that there is that much interest, and that much of a following. Some families all come dressed up as the Lost Boys, and are in character, and know every word to the movie, and are just so into it"

Wirth, who portrayed Dwayne, the member of the vampire gang that is memorably dispatched with an arrow and an exploding stereo system, echoes those sentiments.

"This movie has traveled the globe; I still get fan letters from all over the place. I've been to conventions and seen these grown-up kids with images of all of us tattooed on their backs.

"The great thing about this movie is that compared to the horror movies that are out now — which are all much more graphic — it holds up," says Wirth. "It's a horror movie that has a story and isn't just violence and full of completely disturbing images — I mean this was scary at the time, but it was not gratuitous, it was for the story, and there was a lot of humor in there"

McCarter, whose character ultimately meets his demise in a bathtub full of holy water, says that making the movie in Santa Cruz was a blast — the former Holiday Inn on Ocean Street was taken over by the film crews and actors while they were in town, and McCarter fondly remembers the stay — including the fact that "they blacked out our hotel rooms — all the windows were sealed with black velvet" to help them stay in character.

Not that they needed much encouragement — much of the cast and crew lived up to the movie's tagline.

"It was just one huge workfest and partyfest, it was insane, we had so much fun," says McCarter. "We'd work nights, so you'd start at six at night, and go to six in the morning. When you work a 12-hour day, you're not going to go right to bed; you're going to want to unwind, so I'd have like 30 people partying in my hotel room at 7:30 in the morning.

"They didn't want us in the sun at all; they wanted us to have that white vampire look. We were on a nighttime schedule, and they definitely kept us in that nocturnal vampire state of mind — when that sun came up you really didn't want to see it," laughs Wirth.

McCarter, who will be bringing along a film crew to document the event on Wednesday for an upcoming television project he's working on, says that one of his other favorite memories of the filming was getting to ride a motorcycle up and down the beach and the Boardwalk, fitting right in with his character's frame of mind.

"Our job was to be these crazy kids — and we were at the time," McCarter laughs. "So it came pretty naturally"

Wirth, with a good natured chuckle, recalls an incident that he was involved in during some downtime in the shooting schedule — and amusingly it didn't involve riding motorcycles or any other stunts.

"I remember going to the Boardwalk, and going on one of the rides, and I just couldn't stomach it. That was pretty funny, because here I am, supposed to be this tough, bad-ass vampire, and I'm getting sick on one of the rides"

Casting extras

Carl Henn, who is currently the director of maintenance and development at the Boardwalk, was director of facilities development at the time that "The Lost Boys" was being filmed, and acted as the liaison between the amusement park and the film company.

"At the time we kind of figured it would be just a scary, weird, teenage movie, and it really turned into an amazing piece, I thought. I was very much surprised that it's continued on like it has"

Henn worked first-hand with the film crew, overseeing what they did to change things at the Boardwalk, such as building extra sets and re-decorating, and also caught a glimpse into the movie-making process.

"For me, watching what they did, and some of the ways they did their effects, and seeing when it all came together was really fun"

People still ask Henn about what it was like to be around the making of "The Lost Boys," and he enjoys sharing his memories, such as remembering when an ad was run locally looking for extras for the film.

"One of the assistant directors was really happy because when they put out the call, everybody showed up and they really didn't have much of a need for a makeup situation. What showed up was perfect, they were pretty much dressed ready to go," he laughs. "Santa Cruz fit right into the vampire motif"

The comics connection

Another location that was featured prominently in "The Lost Boys" was Atlantis Fantasyworld, which stood in for the comic book shop where the "Frog brothers," the vampire-fighting duo of the film, work for their parents.

Joe Ferrara, owner of Atlantis, recalls the three weekends that the film crew took over his store — when it was at its original location on lower Pacific Ave., before the 1989 earthquake — and transformed it into a movie set.

"One of the big reasons they really liked the location was its size — the thing you see on camera is the Frog brothers — two or three actors on screen. What you don't see is the 75 other people standing around"

Through the magic of moviemaking and a faux set built in front of Atlantis' doorway, the comic store was made to seem as though it was actually on the Boardwalk, and Ferrara says that people still come to town and try to find his shop on the Boardwalk.

In addition to his business being featured in "The Lost Boys," Ferrara also had a cameo in one scene, where he was supposed to be playing a pinball machine in the background, but the game was turned off so it wouldn't make any noise.

"So I'm standing in the back there, and we're looking at dead machine as if we're playing it, and at one point I just said, 'Aw, did you see that? We got robbed!' --I wasn't supposed to say anything — But I just said it like a natural reaction. If you crank the volume up in that scene, you can hear that line," he laughs.

"At the time, we thought it was kind of cool, but the unbelievable thing is how many times in the last 20 years people have come in and mentioned 'The Lost Boys,'" says Ferrara, who keeps an autographed copy of the prop comic book "Vampires Everywhere!" from "The Lost Boys" in his office. "Who wouldn't want to be a part of a cult classic?"

Contact Sean McCourt at sean@seanmccourt.net.

{ wednesday 'The Lost Boys' outdoor screening. 8:45 p.m. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Details: 423-5590 or www.beachboardwalk.com or www.originalalamo.com. }

The sound of 'The Lost Boys'

One of the elements that made 'The Lost Boys' such a cult hit was the music soundtrack that propels the action on screen. Several artists who at the time were big names in the entertainment industry were included in the film, but perhaps no song better captures the feel of the movie than 'Cry Little Sister,' a tune written and performed by Gerard McMann.

'That song has had such a life, I never would have thought it would have gone on to do what it's done,' says McMann.

Gothic overtones and a hauntingly beautiful chorus that featured a choir of children singing in the background helped the composition to be chosen as the theme song for the movie by director Joel Schumacher after he was sent an early demo version.

McMann, who had previously worked on music for a couple of other movies, and continues to write for film, television, and his own albums, says that 'The Lost Boys' was not yet completed when he was asked to write some material for the soundtrack.

'I was very inspired just by reading the script; it was such a good script.'

The now iconic song and its signature chorus came to the songwriter while he was experimenting with different ideas in his recording studio in New York one day.

'Once I got to that chorus, I started singing what I would sing, and then I started playing [the next phrase of notes] on the piano, and wondered, "What am I going to put in there?" I started hearing this choir in my head, and thought to myself, "What if I do a play on the Ten Commandments or something?" '

McMann, who currently performs under the stage name G Tom Mac, has just finished recording a batch of songs for 'The Lost Boys 2,' the long-awaited sequel that is now currently in production from Warner Bros. for a direct to DVD release.

Although he is excited about his new work, McMann says that the original 'Lost Boys' is something that will be nearly impossible to replicate.

'It's very rare to see a film and go, "Oh my God, it's even better than I imagined it to be from reading the script," ' McMann says about 'The Lost Boys.' 'All the right elements came together on this film.'

Truly trivial

  • The title of the film is a reference to the companions of Peter Pan, who remained forever young.
  • This movie invented the phrase 'vamp out,' which has passed into common usage on 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer.'
  • Kiefer Sutherland was only meant to wear the black gloves he wears as David when riding the motorbike. However, while messing around on the bike behind-the-scenes, he fell off, breaking his arm so he had to wear the gloves through the whole movie to cover his cast.
  • David (Kiefer Sutherland) is impaled on a pair of antlers and doesn't disintegrate like the other vampires. Despite what Max later says, he is not really dead. This was intended to be picked up in the sequel, 'The Lost Girls,' which was scripted but never made.