Lost Boys: The Thirst
I’ve unofficially re-dubbed Generation X the “Nostalgia Generation.” It seems that children of the 80’s have an insatiable appetite for any and every piece of pop culture that they grew up with. It’s pretty evident in the ridiculous number of remakes, reboots and re-imaginings that studios are cranking out, the popularity of stressed t-shirts bearing logos of 80’s movies, shows and even breakfast cereals and the flood of 80’s pop-cultured based internet memes. It seems we can’t get enough retro culture and are continually begging to recapture our lost childhoods.
To mine a cliché: be careful what you wish for.
The Lost Boys was not a hugely popular movie when first released in 1987 but found its following on video and went on to be one of the most beloved horror comedies of the 1980’s. It was only a matter of time before the Lost Boys were dug up, dusted off and repacked although, in this case, we got a series of direct-to-video sequels instead of a remake. Having watched both sequels I can say for certain that it probably would have been better for all involved had the Boys stayed lost.
Five years ago, Edgar (Corey Feldman) and Alan (Jamieson Newlander) Frog were tasked with rescuing a senator that had been kidnapped by vampires. They manage to save the senator but, in the process, Alan is forced to drink vampire blood and becomes himself a vampire.
Flash forward five years: Edgar has fallen on hard times. He is retired from the vampire hunting trade and his trailer is about to be repossessed. Poor guy can’t even seem to get a decent price for his vintage comic book collection from the local comic store, the Book-o-Neer. At least his friend Zoe (Casey B. Dolan) is willing to try and sell his books on eBay. On his way home from the Book-o-Neer, Edgar runs into Gwen Lieber (Tanit Phoenix) a Stephenie Meyers-esque author of lusty vampire bodice-rippers. Her brother (Felix Mosse) was hooked by a new drug, and kidnapped, at a rave held by DJ X (Seb Castang). This drug, called The Thirst, is a mixture of ecstasy and vampire blood. But this is not just any vampire blood, it’s the blood of the Alpha vampire, the first vampire from which all other vampires are spawned. DJ X is using his popular raves as a platform to push the drug, turn a bunch of poorly dressed youngsters into a poorly dressed vampire army and... I dunno, take over the world? At least, take over the world at night?
Gwen has come to hire Edgar to rescue her brother and kill the Alpha vampire. After (too) much humming and hawing Edgar finally agrees to take on DJ X at his next rave, which is being held at a slaughterhouse (subtle) on an Alcatraz-like island (whaaa?). Getting Gwen to foot the bill for an arsenal of new vampire hunting technology and with Zoe, Gwen, tv-reality star Lars Von Goetz (Steven Van Niekerk) and his documentarian Claus (Joe Vaz) in tow, Edgar heads to the island, hoping to destroy the Alpha Vampire and turn his brother human again.
Let’s get the good out of the way first: in every possible way, Lost Boys: The Thirst improves on its immediate predecessor, Lost Boys: The Tribe. The Thirst is surprisingly slick and professional for a DTV cash grab and the FX, both digital and practical, are actually pretty snazzy looking. The producers must have taken criticisms of The Tribe, mainly of its low-rent production values, to heart. There’s more filmmaking craftsmanship on display in any given minute of The Thirst than in the entirety of The Tribe and the script for The Thirst actually feels like it was written as a follow up to the original Lost Boys and not a spec script that had characters from the first film awkwardly shoehorned in.
That’s not to say The Thirst is a good movie, though. It’s not. Not even close, really.
Although it looks slicker than 2, it still looks cheap. The direction, while competent, is pretty unspectacular consisting of lots of locked-off medium shots. The aspect ratio is 2.40, but if you were to used the zoom function on your HDTV and crop it to 1.78, you wouldn’t be missing anything; the compositions are that unimaginative. It’s really a testament to the awfulness of The Tribe that this pedestrian and totally by-the-number movie counts as an improvement, and a big one at that.
At his best, Corey Feldman can be good campy fun (see Meatballs 4...seriously, see it [Ed: Seriously.]). Unfortunately he’s not at his best here. For the first little while, his grim, growly tough guy wannabe is fun but he keeps hitting the same note over and over again. Making him the central character means that the film pretty much lives or dies with him. He kills it, and not in a good way. There’s not anybody else to pick up the slack, although actress Casey B. Dolan is a bright spot in this otherwise totally forgettable time waster.
The script is pretty terrible and the story makes very little sense. Why would anybody put a slaughterhouse on an island? Raves were a big thing when I was in High School but do they still have them anymore? It seems like an attempt to be timely and hip from somebody who has been out of touch for years. There are a few jokes about the Twilight series made at Stephenie Meyer’s expense but they’re lame digs fired at an easy target. The character of Lars allows for a few mildly clever digs at reality TV shows, which is about as close to self awareness as this film gets. In a bit of bait-and-switch advertising, although The Thirst is heralded as the return of the Frog brothers they actually have very little time together - three scenes to be exact, totalling maybe a dozen minutes. That unfortunately turns out not to be such a liability since Feldman and Newlander have very little chemistry together.
At a barely feature length 81 minutes, The Thirst doesn’t have enough story to sustain even that Spartan running time. We’re treated to a lot of long shots of Corey looking sullen, interspersed with flashbacks to the original film. The volume of flashbacks almost approaches Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 levels and only serves as a reminder of how much better the original film is.
There’s a sliding scale in place for DTV features, and I can make allowances for low budgets, but The Thirst is one of the most visually unappealing films I’ve seen in a good long while, even when measured against the lowered standards of video store fodder. The picture is muddy and washed out during the day scenes, which black levels and contrast really poor during the night or dimly lit scenes. There’s a hazy pall that hangs over most of the movie and, with few exceptions, the picture is much softer than you’d expect from a 1080p image. The flashback scenes have been processed, drained of their colour and treated with a layer of noise which robs the viewer of even the enjoyment of Joel Schumacher’s colourful visuals from the first movie. A thoroughly mediocre transfer for a thoroughly mediocre film.
The DTS-HD 5.1 audio is better, but not by much. The mix is front heavy, with dialogue feeling canned or overly processed. The surrounds are sparsely used and when they are employed, it’s mainly for the score. Most of the time, however, they’re as lifeless as the film itself.
What is The Thirst? (6:09) is a collection of 2 minute video blogs that, I surmise, were used as a promotional tool to sell the film on the Internet. Had I seen them beforehand, they wouldn’t have made me want to see the film and they don’t enhance the film in any way.
The featurette How to Kill a Vampire (5:44) represents a missed opportunity. Corey Feldman, in character, gives the audience a rundown of the “vampire tech” he uses in the movie. Yes, for five minutes, Corey Feldman shows you props and tells you what they are. I thought that it would be maybe an instructional video on how to defend yourself from a vampire attack, or a discussion of the mythology of the series. Either of those would have been at least campy fun.
Okay, I have to admit I got a mild kick out of Return of the Frog Brothers (6:49). Corey Feldman, as himself, interviews the characters Edgar and Alan Frog. The segment is done in a video newsmagazine style and is actually corny fun. It’s a stupid idea that’s not terribly well executed, but then the Frog brothers start their paranoid ranting (like the correlation between the rise of identity theft and the increase in the vampire population) and I managed a chuckle or two. Croey Feldman fans will probably get a kick out of this feature.
The Art of Seduction: Vampire Lore (12:20) is an odd duck. Hosted by Charisma Carpenter (why? She had nothing to do with the movie) it gives the impression that it was filmed for another purpose, abandoned, then appropriated as a special feature for this Blu-ray by way of the insertion of a few cast and crew interview snippets. Among the weird assortment of participants, Horror journalist David J. Skal is the only one to offer any real insight and he’s not in it enough to make this worth your time. Go read The Monster Show by Skal instead.
There’s not much good to say about this third instalment in the Lost Boys series, and the Blu-ray release offers only lacklustre presentation and a weak assortment of supplements. The Thirst is better than the abysmal second film and at a lean 81 minutes it doesn’t over stay its welcome too much. There’s a bit more spit and polish this time around, but that just makes its other flaws stand out all the more. Even with the occasional nod to the original or the half-hearted attempts to expand the mythology of the series, fans would do better to re-watch the original Lost Boys and ignore the crass attempts to separate them from their money that the sequels represent.
The Thirst is better than the abysmal second film?
Are you on crack???
The Tribe is a good movie if you compare it to this crap.
I havent seen this yet but if its near as bad as the second one I am sure the only good thing about the dvd is that out of place special feature that has Charisma Carpenter hosting- still a total hottie
springjack: Even if, for the sake of argument, I grant that the second film is the better of the two, that’s akin to saying that cow shit tastes better than horse shit. At the end of the day, they’re both still shit and it's not advisable to eat either one.
I liked both Tribe and Thirst, and I can't figure out how the hell anyone can love the original and not kind of like either of them, and I also can't figure out how anyone can really like Thirst more than Tribe.
Obviously, everyone must love Lost Boys for different reasons in the horror community.
Chunkblower, I didn´t say that The Tribe was a good movie.
I said that The Tribe becomes a good movie if you compare it to The Thirst.
Out of the two sequels, I prefer The Tribe all the way.
I haven't seen either, but I'd definitely want to see The Thirst over The Tribe. Any movie with more Feldman gets my love.
Rhett, in this case The Tribe has less Feldman but more entertainment. Not by much but still more entertaining than The Thirst to me.
What bothers me about this is that so many productions made in South Africa ~ as this one was ~ are going straight to disc and not to cinemas.
That's a shame: nice review, though.
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