Upon their thirteenth birthday, it should be mandatory for all teenagers to watch The Lost Boys. On the surface, a kitschy '80s horror movie about a gang of biker vampires terrorizing a California tourist town; under its milky white skin, a celebration of popular culture and adolescent angst. It's The Goonies for an older crowd, and without it there'd be no Buffy The Vampire Slayer (opens in new tab) or Twilight. It made vampirism about leather jackets, staying out late, and rebellion - rather than haunted castles and Victorian corsetry - while still celebrating what it feels like to be a weird, geeky kid.
It's bad boy Michael on all the posters, but the real hero is his nerdy younger brother Sam (played by Corey Haim), who has a passion for horror comics, loves his mom, and owns an impressive collection of shirts that your 54-year-old 'fun' uncle would covet. It's Sam who has to save the day when his brother falls for the aloof hot girl, eats Chinese food in a cave with Keifer Sutherland, and BAM, ends up as one of the bloodthirsty undead. Worse, his brother's vampirism is just one of his problems: his mom is recently divorced and dating, he's moved to a new town, and he doesn't even have access to a TV.
Even better, the gang of vampires that Sam has to face is led by Kiefer Sutherland, long before he voiced Big Boss in Metal Gear Solid 5. These vampires are no piano-playing, celibate dandies. They look like a newly formed hair metal band, with embellished leather jackets, more jewelry than a Claire's Accessories, and a preference for traveling by bike even though they can fly. Alongside Sutherland, you'll spot Alex Winter - Bill of Bill and Ted - as a blonde bloodsucker with a perm and love interest Star is played by Jami Gertz, who you'll see these days in TV shows like Modern Family and This Is Us. Together the gang is a walking list of everything that was sexy and attractive about the bad kids during high school, and even now they're impossible to resist as they prowl the boardwalk.
The writing is legitimately funny, and even more so because none of the cast are really playing it for laughs. Lines like "My blood is in your veins" are delivered through plastic fangs with all the passion of a 'Best Picture' Oscar contender, and every scene is laced with quips about Eddie Munster, the bloodsucking Brady Bunch, and Twisted Sister. The action keeps pace with bathtubs that bubble over with holy water, a stereo that becomes a deadly weapon, and a whole scene where someone experiences nuclear-level gaslighting over some egg fried rice.
Whether you like horror, have a soft spot for the '80s, or just want a movie that will make you laugh (and want to buy a leather jacket), The Lost Boys has something for everyone. A word of warning, though... no matter how much you like the first film, stay away from its sequels like you would a bathtub full of garlic and holy water. The original has all the smoldering vampirism you could ever need - including a topless man's saxophone solo the likes of which the world has never seen before or since.