Saturday, July 26, 2008

Lost Boys – The Tribe (Uncut Version) – review

Director: P J Pesce

Release date: 2008

Contains spoilers

Making a sequel to the classic 1987 vampire movie the Lost Boys was always going to be a virtually thankless task. The fact that this was directed by P J Pesce would, depending on your point of view, be worrying. After all he directed from Dusk till Dawn 3: the Hangman’s Daughter. Now that was a film that did not stand close to the original (though I thought it the better of the two sequels in that franchise).

Of course the fact that it has been 21 years since the last film and one of the main stars of the original (Keifer) is now in the stratosphere, career wise, and probably wouldn’t do a straight to DVD movie – and even if he did, he looks 21 years older and his character was an eternally young vampire. None of that could help. So, if we look behind the rather groovy hologram slipcase and into the film, what do we get?

The Tribe is somewhat of a re-imagining, or a homage if you prefer, to the original film. It does boast an original character, the story line is familiar and yet changed and there are conceptual nods that fans of the first film will notice. Not in the least that our primary vampire character, Shane, is played by Angus Sutherland – half brother of aforementioned Keifer.

The film begins with him and his surfer buddies, Jon (Kyle Cassie), Kyle (Shaun Sipos) and Erik (Merwin Mondesir) breaking into private property to surf on the beach below. They are spotted and confronted by property owner Van Etten (Tom Savini). Van Etten vamps out and they vamp in return – the three henchmen fall on Van Etten and Shane reminds them to take the head.

Chris (Tad Hilgenbrink) and little sister Nicole Emerson (Autumn Reeser) have fallen onto hard times. Their parents died a few years before and Chris, a professional surfer, managed to get himself kicked off the circuit. Running out of funds they have moved to Luna Bay to stay with their Aunt Jillian (Gabrielle Rose) – a realtor who rents them a really crappy house. If you are wondering about the surname, yes it is the same as the family from the first film and, according to the Official Site they are cousins to Sam and Michael. Hmmm… not good… there is no indication in the film that Edgar Frog (Corey Feldman) even makes the connection. Better to have had them unrelated.

Chris is looking for work as a surf-board shaper and is directed to the Frog Brothers place – but no one appears to be home. Nicole is already attracting male attention. As the sun sets Chris sees Shane – who was on the surf circuit himself – and he invites Chris to a party that night. Nicole wants to attend but Chris is against the idea, that is until Aunt Jillian appears with the Goonies to watch. Incidentally there is a man on saxophone as they walk the town and I thought, hmmm… reminds me of a 21 years later, fat version of the beach star from the first film. As he was played by Timmy Cappello and Cappello is also credited as a homeless man in this I guess it was the same guy!

At the party Chris hooks up with a girl named Lisa (Moneca Delain) but, despite leaping in a shower with her, is uncomfortable with regards Nicole. It seems that he knew Jon (and ended the surfer’s career) and there is no love lost between them, he also does not trust Shane. Meanwhile Nicole has drunk the wine – in other words ingested Shane’s blood.

Chris punches Shane and takes Nicole home where she starts to vamp out – that is until she is knocked out by a surf board round her head courtesy of Edgar Frog. He is going to stake her but is prevented by Chris. Frog leaves and Lisa turns up, comes onto Chris, vamps out and is thrust (accidentally) onto antlers. I’ll return to her death shortly.

Of course, Chris goes to Edgar and discovers that he must kill the head vampire before Nicole drinks blood. The problem is finding the nest in time and he may have to ‘drink the wine’ himself and go undercover to root the vampires out for Frog. Will the enticement of everlasting youth, and the idea that his sister will never die, be too much of a temptation?

There was much talk about Corey Haim reprising his role in this as Sam. He does appear in a 'during the credits coda' and, more interestingly, in an alternate ending. In the credits coda he is now a vampire and the film ends with Sam and Frog rushing at each other. In the alternate ending he is human and has come to warn Frog about the return of his brother Alan (Jamison Newlander, who is seen oh so briefly), a master vampire. During the film proper we hear that Edgar has lost his brother but Newlander does not make an appearance.

Lore-wise things are fairly much to the original with a major exception. The idea that garlic does not work has been scrapped (remember it was a main point in the first film) and Edgar has a garlic bulb bolas. He also drinks a daily concoction (Frog Juice) made of raw egg, crushed garlic and holy water. A DVD extra has a talk by Frog on weapons and methods of vampire destruction.

Holy water wise, it is worth mentioning that it is prepared by Edgar himself who is ordained (he went on line, filled in a couple of forms and clicked ordain me). Of course the Lost Boys should be about spectacular slays (Frog repeats his ‘ways vampires go out’ line from the first film) and I had two particular favourites. Lisa, having been antler staked (reminiscent, of course, to David in the first film) turns to stone and then shatters.

I was also impressed by the death of Jon, staked he begins to puke blood, but it is like a stream, his entire innards liquefying and evacuating. We get a beheading later that was not so good as the flames escaping the neck wound were terribly cgi. We also have another couple of kills that I’ll let you discover for yourselves.

Acting-wise there is nothing too terrible. Feldman laps it up as Frog and
perfectly reprises a character last seen as a child but, as an adult, exactly the same. The character is great for fans of the original; one wonders how someone watching the film cold (as it were) would take him. Sutherland reminded me very much of his dad in mannerisms at least, no bad thing. Whilst there was no real problem with the performances from Hilgenbrink and Reeser, I had no character sympathy. To be honest that was a writing issue, and the characters – all in all – were fairly cardboard cut-out. Aunt Jillian was an exceptionally pointless character who, I guess, was meant to remind of Grandpa – but clueless as to the vampires, unlike her predecessor.

Any sense of tension or wonder was lost – we knew what was happening from the moment the film started – and so the film went for action (there is an adrenaline junky chase through town on bikes and skateboards, followed by police cars, which works rather well as an action sequence) and full on gore. The film opens with an attack and beheading. The famous track “Cry Little Sister” is our main theme again (slightly modernised) and brings its own level of branding to the film.

As a tribute to the first film (for it is more that than a sequel) this works as well as could be expected – given that what ever was done, it was always going to be criticised. Some of the tie-ins work (Edgar Frog and the reliance on comic books as a vampire slaying manual), whilst others fall flat (having Chris and Nicole related to Sam, and not even mentioning it in the film).

As a stand alone vampire movie this floats around average, with some nice slays but ultimately an obvious storyline and flat, unexplored characters and motivations. 5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


Anonymous said...

Never really expected much to come of this - even if it had been a 'proper' theatrical film. Too much time has passed, and what with all the original vampires having been killed/cured, 'The Lost Boys' didn't really scream franchise. I suppose we should be thankful that's not another remake, but from what you say it probably may as well have been.

What the hell, I'm sure I'll catch it on Zone Horror some time./=

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Cheers Ben - happy to see you over here. I get the feeling it'll hit sky movies rather than Zone Horror in the first instance. 'm sure Warner'll want to get their monies worth.

Actually if you go to the official site you get a whole convoluted, Frog related, backstory that isn't mentioned in the film at all!

Unknown said...

This sounds a lot - I mean, A LOT - like a movie that wouldn't have been made, if they hadn't been able to come up with a "franchise" tie-in. At least Feldmen is working...

Nice review - thanks for the warning!


Anonymous said...

It's watchable, but that's about all I can say about the film.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Doc, it felt to me like they had a franchise and tried to come up with a story, hence it being average... so I think you're right.

Sandeef... as I said, as a vamp movie average. There are worse (and unwatchable) films out there

Anonymous said...

Didn't know this was out. I'll have to find it somewhere...

Taliesin_ttlg said...

thewritersjourney - it actually gets released early next week (29th I think) - the online company I pre-ordered it from sent it through with good time to arrive on day of release and it arrived a little earlier than release date.

Anonymous said...

I was disappointed by the first half of the movie, especially the predictable manner in which everything was presented. When Nicole hangs those antlers on the wall after they just arrived, I was thinking "are you kidding me? They're gonna do this again?" And, sure enough . . .

In the second half, though, things picked up; there were a few twists thrown in here and there that redeemed the flick from complete unworthiness. One example would be the inclusion of balloons filled with holy water (perhaps the only original element of the movie).

But I agree . . . the major setback is in the writing. For example, when Chris learns the truth about the surfers being vampires, it is almost taken in stride, and he does not anguish for even a second over the prospect of becoming a (half) vampire in order to save his sister. Which is a damn shame, considering the incredibly colorful performance Tad Hilgenbrinck gave in American Pie: Band Camp . . . everything here is almost monotone, which makes Angus Sutherland's bland, wooden acting--which would otherwise stick out like a sore thumb--less offensive.

The original Lost Boys worked as a film because of the struggle between the nuclear family and the vampire gang, with Michael, of course, being pulled from one to the other. In The Tribe, no such struggle exists, and the writers were unable to find a suitable parallel (perhaps the aunt was a feeble attempt along these lines, but her character was annoying and stupid, which pretty much killed the ending).

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Cheers JR. The antlers were yet another nod/lift to the previous film and, I must admit, I allowed myself a groan when I saw them... slightly made up for by the turning to stone effect, but they could have done that without antlers.

I must admit I also liked the idea of online ordaination to make holy water... it wa supercilious and sacrilegious enough toappeal...

poor writing though and I'll stick to just around average.

cheers,as always, for the comment

Anonymous said...

I finally got around to watching it last night, and I've got to say that I liked it. A lot, actually. I posted a little review on my blog, but I just think it worked. I can't wait for Lost Boys 3 now. :)