Bite Me

I must admit to being not just a little excited about the straight-to-DVD release of Lost Boys: The Tribe, the follow-up (“sequel” seems unrealistic after 20 years!) to 1987’s cult classic, Lost Boys.  That’s right, straight to video.  Despite my enthusiasm, I refrained from actually purchasing the shiny new disc upon its debut, waiting rather for my trusty Netflix to deliver it into my greedy little hands.  Also in spite of my enthusiasm, I really was not expecting too much from the film.  When my wife told me some reviewers had dubbed it “not too bad,” I still maintained a healthy skepticism: no Jason Patric, no Kiefer Sutherland, no grandpa, no Nanook….  The thing had tremendous odds stacked against it.  Nonetheless, a big evening was made of watching the film on the homemade big-screen, with an intimate audience of super-nerd vampire fans and the mood lubricated by pints of the tastiest local brews.  And… it really wasn’t that bad!

The plot is very similar to the 80’s Lost Boys.  The sister from our pair of sibling protagonists falls in with the local cool surfer dudes, who happen to be undead (in the original it was the older brother, and the dudes were bikers) and who trick her into drinking the blood of the head vampire (yummy!), bringing her halfway toward being one of them.  The brother must find and kill the head vampire before little sis has her first feeding in order to reverse the curse.  As in the original, the pair is aided by self-taught, self-ascribed vampire hunter Edgar Frog, played by Corey Feldman. The other brother Frog is missing in this film, “lost to the other side,” as Edgar puts it.  Edgar gives the brother a crash course in vampire mythology, specifically how they can be exterminated (knowledge he has culled mostly from comic books— In Lost Boys, you’ll remember, it is in the local comic book store that Sam, played by Corey Haim, first meets the brothers Frog.). A bloodbath ensues, the head vampire falls, and little sister is happily human once more.

As for criticism, let me point out a few things I liked about the film, and a few points where I found the film really lacking.  The movie’s pretty entertaining, with a few gotcha! moments, enough but not too much gore, and solid enough acting to warrant my earlier pronouncement of “not bad.” There are some nice homages peppered throughout, my favorite of which comes in the early moments of the film. Our surfer vamps are raising a ruckus on a private beachfront in the middle of the night and are confronted by the property owner, played by none other than horror movie special effects phenom Tom Savini.  Savini rose to notoriety working on George Romero’s zombie films, and went on to work makeup magic on the sets of many horror movies, including various Friday the 13’s, The Prowler, Maniac, etc. (In an interview on some extra feature on some Romero film, Savini credits his tour in Vietnam as the major inspiration for his gory creations, that this work is a way for him to deal with those horrific images.)  Savini’s character reveals that he’s a vampire, but, much to his chagrin, so are the hooligans, and they promptly rip him to shreds, taking care to sever his head so he won’t come back to the undead.  This is not the first time Savini has played someone who falls victim to massive head trauma.  There must be some pleasure for him in having the tables turned in this manner, being on the other side of the special effects.

As in the 80’s, Corey Feldman’s Edgar Frog is hilarious.  In adulthood, Edgar has taken it upon himself to become ordained through an online church, thus able to make holy water that is otherwise normal.  Handy, no doubt, when engaged in hand-to-fang combat.  Edgar also has updated the tried and true wooden stake, giving it a handle which not only increases thrusting force, much like a small sword, but, when turned over, resembles a cross.  And for ultimate speed and durability, there are the carbon fiber stakes.  Among Edgar’s other updates to his arsenal is the holy water balloon launcher (you remember the 80’s holy-water balloons and holy-water guns, right?).  Let’s just say it makes a holy, err, unholy mess!  These little tidbits, along with Feldman’s seemingly unwavering sincerity in this role (he’s exactly the same guy from the first Lost Boys), make the film watchable, if not even enjoyable.

All in all, the plot is too straightforward, without any twists and turns to surprise us or even make us think.  In the first movie we’re led to believe the whole time that Kiefer is the head vampire, only to be surprised when he’s not and we learn who really is.  Gone are all the somewhat complex relationships explored in Lost Boys that lead us into ambiguity regarding our nighttime brethren.  There is no real question in The Tribe as to the morality of the characters.  The vampires are the bad guys and must be stopped.  The brother is lured briefly into their fold, but only out of his intense desire to save his sister.  The film is sadly one-dimensional in all of this, when it could really have been an interesting continuation of its earlier counterpart.  Where are some of those characters now?  Has vampirism become an epidemic plaguing southern California?  Also, aside from Edgar’s kitschy killing devices, nothing new is explored regarding vampire mythology.  Actually, the film really doesn’t comment much at all on what it means to be a vampire, it just sort of takes them for granted.  Edgar tells us there’s a lot to be learned about vampires from comic books, but he doesn’t explain any further. 

On a side note, Angus Sutherland, while clearly a Sutherland, has a really bizarre accent!  We spent the whole film trying to decide if he sounded Canadian, British, Scottish, Southern California Surfer Dude, Australian, or like a Keanu Reeves clone.  Really quite strange.

So, in conclusion, this is no Lost Boys.  If you can get past that, if you like cheesy horror flicks, and especially if you’re a Lost Boys fan, The Tribe will suffice to keep you entertained for a brief time.  Again, watch it to see what has become of our dear Edgar Frog.  Stake on, brother, may their souls burn in hell!

One Response to “Bite Me”

  1. Conan Says:

    You claim a nerd-tastic celebration was had, but I see no mention of red food coloring in the beer or said nerds dressed up in capes and plastic fangs…

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