20th Aug2020

Which is Better? #7 – The Lost Boys vs. Fright Night

by Chris Cummings

It’s been a while since I penned a Which is Better article on here, so, as seen as Summer is making me wish Autumn was here, and I’m counting down the days for the Halloween season, I figured I’d go back to two of my favourite vampire movies ever, and pit them against each other in this almost-pointless-because-it’s-subjective-anyway battle of evil versus evil, vamp versus vamp. Fright Night versus The Lost Boys.

*Cue People are Strange by The Doors*

Ok, so I grew up with The Lost Boys on my television set and the record of the soundtrack echoing from the stereo system. I have always had a lot of fondness for the 80s glam-vamp teen-comedy that featured some of the big names from the era, with Keifer Sutherland in the role of head-but-not-quite-head vampire, David, Jason Patrick and Corey Haim as brothers Micheal and Sam, Corey Feldman as snarky comic-book store owner and vampire fighter, Edgar Frog, and one half of The Wild Stallions, Alex Winter, as vampire lackey Marko, among others. It’s a flash-bulb punch of 80s nostalgia, and it’s a bloody joy from start to finish. The soundtrack, as I made mention of a bit already, is terrific too. Echo and the Bunnymen echoing The Doors with their very good version of People are Strange is great, as are songs by INXS, Lou Gramm, Tim Cappello and others. It’s iconic and one of the greatest movie soundtracks of all time, in this writer’s view.

The film itself is just so much fun, though, right? Michael and Sam, along with their Mom, Lucy (Dianne Wiest), move to Santa Carla (the goddamn shit-sucking vampire capital of the World) to live with Lucy’s elderly Dad (Barnard Hughes). Whilst settling in, Michael makes eye contact over the boardwalk with Star (Jami Gertz) and it besotted immediately with her. Problem is, she has a gang of 80s goths in motorcycles around her, so… one thing leads to another and Michael falls in with the wrong crowd, a crowd of neck-sucking mother-fuckers out for blood and partying (and noodles). Oh dear. Sam makes almost-friends with The Frog Brothers, a couple of judgmental vamp-haters who own a comic store on the boardwalk and keep giving away their horror comic stock to Sam to try help teach him about the evil that wanders amongst us! Sheesh. Poor buggers didn’t get the best start to their new home, did they?

Michael gets deeper into the vampire scene, with his mind split on being a good son and brother, and a desire to boink Star and make friends with this cocksure chinese-food fans he now finds himself in the company of. He eventually (for some reason) decides it’s a good idea to drink a mystery crimson cocktail from an old dirty bottle, and thus his life as a half-vampire begins. Leather jackets and sunglasses indoors begin. Sam suspects his brother isn’t normal when he notices that he doesn’t have a bloody reflection in the mirror. Not good. Meanwhile, Sam is curious about her Mum’s new flame, Max (Edward Herrmann), and so he enlists the help of The Frog Brothers to try reveal this guy as a vampire, by trying to sneak garlic into his food and hold mirrors up to his face. Solid plan. It’s just a damn good movie, and I’ve seen it so many times, every scene is iconic in my head. It’s one of the greatest horror flicks of the 80s and one of the very best vampire movies ever made. Thank you, Joel Schumacher!

*Cue smoke effect*
*Cut to image of Roddy McDowall standing beside his car looking concerned*

Ah, Fright Night, we meet again.

Now, admittedly, I’m not as familiar with Fright Night as I am with The Lost Boys. I’ve just seen The Lost Boys more, but man do I love this movie. Made in 1985 by Tom Holland, the wonderful bastard who also brought us Child’s Play and wrote such cinematic wonders as Class of 1984 (I love that movie so much) and The Beast Within, it’s another 80s vampire classic, with more of a comedic injection than our previous classic had.

Charlie Brewster (William Ragsdale) is a happy-go-lucky teenage lad, happily smooching his honey on his single bed in the bedroom of his parent’s house in the suburbs. He likes horror movies, and his worries are likely limited to which snack he should grab from the fridge, and how long it will take to hit third-base with Amy (Amanda Bearse). His life, however, gets a little more complicated when two new blokes move in next door. Are they normal fellows, making a house in a nice neighbourhood, having barbecues in their backyard, having buddies over to watch the new episode of MASH? Not fucking likely. These two new neighbours are only a goddamn crypt-dwelling vampire and his daytime watchman. What are the chances? Poor Charlie.

Things aren’t so easy for Charlie, either, because nobody believes him and his horror-loving mind when he starts accusing his new neighbours of being undead and what-not. Charlie has only one option left (apparently) and seeks the help of Peter Vincent (McDowall), a washed-up late-night television horror host. Charlie seems to believe that Vincent isn’t merely playing a character and believes he will be able to help him figure out the next step when it comes to exterminating the blood-buzzard next door. I mean… I guess Charlie also thought Batman was real too, so perhaps he could have enlisted Adam West to come and “thwack” and “bash” Jerry Dandridge’s ass. Maybe someone should have suggested that.

Still, once Peter Vincent enters the fold, the film really takes off into high gear. It’s hilarious but still manages to have that Hammer Horror creepiness, that gothic cloudy atmosphere that works so well in vampire pictures. McDowall is an absolute blast as Vincent, as camp as you can get, overreacting and over-acting in the best ways. He’s initially reluctant, but agrees to help when payment is offered. He doesn’t believe Charlie either, at first, so plays along for the cash, until he realises that this teenage kid he once thought was delusional, may just be telling the truth.

Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon) is a wonderful vampire villain, both romantic and charming, but also powerful and intimidating, he plays the part of the iconic image of a gothic vampire so well, and if I was a scrawny teenage kid with only a lava lamp and a skateboard as a weapon, I’d be fucking terrified of him too. What a character. Fright Night is a classic for good reason. It mixes comedy and horror seamlessly, and each character, from Charlie to Amy to Jerry to Peter Vincent, all offer a unique and wonderfully enjoyable performance. The soundtrack, too, is a goodie, though it doesn’t do it for me like The Lost Boys one does. Still, with Sparks, Devo, April Wine and White Sister among others on there, it’s still an absolute treat. Man, weren’t 80s movie soundtrack the fucking bomb?

*Cue howling noise*
*Cut to image of a full moon*

AND… we’re out! Cut! Good job, guys!

I really really like these two flicks. The Lost Boys has that sentimental nostalgia shot going for it, for me. I’ve watched it countless times from 1987 until modern day, and still enjoy it thoroughly. Fright Night, though, regardless of it being the one I’ve seen less here, gives me that giddy feeling of pleasure. It’s silly but brilliant, and the premise is so simple yet so effective. These really are the two best vampire motion pictures of the 1980s, and definitely make the top ten or five of all time. With characters like The Frog Brothers and Peter Vincent wandering around, how couldn’t these be great?

So, the question remains, which one is better? Which of these two all-time classics is superior to the other? That’s a rough question to answer, and one that will certainly result in hateful responses from half of the folks reading this, and I get it. These are beloved movies, and opinions are like buttholes, everyone has one, and sometimes it hurts to use it.

In the end though, I went with my heart, I went with the film I feel is just that touch better, that little bit more iconic, and that bit more rewatchable. It’s a skin-of-the-teeth decision, but The Lost Boys, for me, wins this war, by a small margin. It’s close, but if I had a very mean and unhinged person standing in front of me with my Blu-ray’s of both of these films in his hand, and he told me I could only keep one of them for the rest of my life… I think The Lost Boys would be saved. I hope that doesn’t happen. Don’t get any ideas for revenge, people, this is only my opinion!

WHICH IS BETTER?

The Lost Boys

So, what do you think? Are you in agreement? Do you think The Lost Boys is the better of the two? Let us know below and thanks for reading!

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