Lost Boys: The Tribe is an anomaly. It is a quick, strange, euphoric trip that won't quite sit right with those who've seen the original 1987 film twenty times or more. It's hard not to get caught up in the nostalgic wisps streaming off this slender thing like a blast of bike tire air. I should know, I was knee deep in the muck. The Lost Boys is one of those true cult masterpieces that fronts like a rendered memory every time you inject it into your digital playback system. It was the first VHS tape I ever owned, and I must have watched it every Friday and Sunday afternoon on the back porch throughout the summer of 1988, when my two older brothers would ditch me for under-aged sex and stolen bottles of booze. It is an old, lost friend that died in a car crash the moment Warner Brothers decided not to put out a true sequel back in 1989. Instead, we got Dream a Little Dream and Flatliners, which was compensation enough. Now, nearly twenty years later, we've been given a sure shot of adrenalized fiction that is more reimagined afterthought than it is a true follow-up.
Much like its characters, this isn't the brother or son of our favorite teen vampire flick of all-time. It's the second cousin hipster nephew that has surely forgotten all ties with it's distant relative. Watching it play out, you soon sense that this is a hybrid model built for different eyes. Every once in a while, you will notice a slight facial expression, or a canonized blink, or a certain off smirk that will remind you of those characters long lost to the annals of time, but this is a beast of its own making. And it's important that you know and understand that before stepping into its inviting bright light. If you are looking for a true continuation of The Lost Boys mythos, you are going to be sorely disappointed. But if you can clear your conscious and all those twenty-one year old expectations, you'll be delighted to find one of the quirkier direct-to-home video offerings produced since the genre took off a couple of years ago.
Me? I have become a connoisseur of the quick buck tie-in films used to generated money off old library titles. They've become commonplace at the local video store, and remind me of all those horrible sitcoms from the 80s that were based on our most popular movies. Back then, they made television shows out of Animal House, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, MASH, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, and Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, just to name a few. Some were absolute dog dunkle, and some are still remembered as the greatest series of all time. We are slowly, but surely starting to see that happen with the direct-to-DVD market. Bachelor Party 2: The Last Temptation is a prime example of the studio preying on beloved films and nostalgic feelings to make some easy money (and pay off the debts incurred by Meet Dave). But the continuation of the American Pie franchise proves that Universal has gotten behind the idea of making cheap yet entertaining little nuggets that are enjoyable upon repeat viewing, and that, while not superior in any way to their original forefathers, at least uphold the name they are borrowing to some degree. Lost Boys: The Tribe falls into this later category. While it isn't necessarily the film that fans wanted to see, it is by far the best direct-to-DVD quasi-sequel to get squeezed out of the genre yet. Looking at it past all probability and perfunctory thought (i.e. looking at it for what it is), it's a clever little gem. Director P.J. Pesce and Corey Feldman have their hearts in the right place, and I fully understand why this has to be about teenage vampires and not simply The Frog Brothers and Sam. God willing, there will be a third film, and it will revolve around them. That is the main reason why I implore you to seek this out. Pay money to see it. Otherwise, the twenty-second mid-end credit clip is all we will ever see of the infamous Edgar and Sam throw down.
As it stands, Lost Boys: The Tribe is an above average cheapie vampire flick that you would actually dig a lot if you came across it on cable one night, not knowing it had any ties to the original The Lost Boys whatsoever. Sure, it borrows heavily from the first film as far as narrative goes, but the action is crisp and mean. And the tits and gore factor is through the roof. Supposedly, the brother and sister duo that make for the film's two leads (Tad Hilgenbrink and Autumn Reeser) are the siblings of Michael Emerson and his hippy lover Star. Sadly, the film has decided to kill these two characters off with a mere side-mention to the fact that they died in an automobile accident. Huh? Why? It is never actually explained that they are Mike and Star's love children, but Pesce has confirmed this in many interviews. They head out to Luna Bay to live with their eccentric aunt (is this Sam and Michael's sister? Is it Star's sister? Don't know for sure. The Aunt only hints at being Star's older sibling when she says, "You look just like my sister." That's it as far as figuring out the relationship ties go). It's a quick set up and nod to the original film that gets things in motion quick, like any good DTDVD should. Soon, the kids are falling in with the wrong crowd. First Nicole, the younger sister, drinks blood from a tainted flask handed to her by an ex-pro surfer (Keifer's younger brother Angus Sutherland, looking and sounding more like a twenty-something Leif Garrett that has managed to keep most of his hair than the badass David from the first film). Soon, the chick is vamping out, and her brother, Chris (doing a spot-on impersonation of Jason Patric) must seek out Edgar Frog, surfboard shaper and vampire hunter.
It takes a minute for this particular ball to get rolling, but once it does, you are in for a treat. In hunting out and staking the vampires, Feldman ups his Rambo quotient a thousand percent. Our favorite Corey gets off some truly classic one-liners, and shows off some new weaponry that will, at the very least, make you smile from ear to ear. In his first few scenes, we see him lurking around in an old trailer home, hiding in the shadows. But once he immerges in full Frog form, swinging a surfboard into the back of a vamp's head, he picks up the slack felt in the film's loose narrative and dominates the thing the rest of the way through. Every second that he is on screen, the proceedings become illuminated, and you find yourself wishing that the entire enterprise from here on out was his. Maybe Warner Brothers didn't have enough faith in him to hand over the reigns completely. Well, should they make that highly touted third film, he has definitely proved his weight with this eager performance. It's truly the one thing that makes this a must buy DVD. And his parting artistry is on par with that first outing. Let's just thank God for Mr. Feldman. I hope he is allowed to return to this particular playing ground. He deserves the sole shot. Let's get those pesky infected teens out of the way and have some fun! Do you hear me, Warner Brothers!?!
As for Corey Haim and the other Frog brother, one is delegated to an end credit sequence that is reminiscent of the Blade films, and the other one is shoved off into the deleted scenes somewhere. Despite the craptatsic nature of his working habits, as seen on this season's The Two Coreys, Haim, in the thirty seconds that he is given, shines as Sam Emerson. With but a nanosecond to do it, he proves that he still has the same on-screen charisma that he did back in his formative years. It is a burning spark that ends this particular outing on an exciting note. Not that we will ever get to see Feldman and Haim really go at each other in another film. Especially with the real life riff between the two. But after some of the ham and cheese that comes before it, we are once again able to daydream about what might be between these two characters. It's a scenario that might play better in your head than it actually does on the small screen. Only time, and some hefty revenues, will tell.
As for Alan Frog? Well, Edgar more than once states that he "lost" someone very close to him to the vampire infection. Was it his brother? Was it Sam? Was it both of them? Was it the rest of the original film's cast? I'm not sure, as I have yet to see the deleted sequence featuring Jamison Newlander. I'm saving that for later, when I'm able to wash this taste out of my mouth and clear that palate. There is also a pretty cool weapons featurette featuring Feldman and the new vampire squashing tools he uses throughout the film. All and all, it's a pretty cool package for the price that is to be paid. But, like anyone else invested in this seeming franchise, I am slightly disappointed in what has been handed to me. DTDVD is for the fans. And I hope they realize that next time. Please, just give us a Frog Brothers film. They could go bowling for ninety minutes, or be stuck in a laundry mat, and we'd eat it up like a syrup dripped Monte Cristo sandwich with all the fixings. This much is true.
Lost Boys: The Tribe? It's not the film we've been waiting for all of these years. But if we can kick that notion aside, what we are left with is a fun little thriller that will have you skipping into the midnight hour with glee. And Feldman? He truly rocks this foundation to its knees and gives us a little hope and something to believe in. This is his film. He rules. Enough said.
Buy it! Or be damned! (Note: this review is of the Lost Boys: The Tribe [Uncut] version of the DVD.)
Dont't forget to also check out: Lost Boys: The Tribe