The Lost Boys and the Origins of the “Pretty-Boy” Vampire


The 1980s were a decade of excess, over-the-top fashion and many cultural shifts. One of the most significant in the horror genre was the transformation of the vampire from a scary, gothic monster to a handsome, charming figure. This shift was largely due to the 1987 film “The Lost Boys,” which featured a group of youthful vampires that were undeniably easy on the eyes.

Before “The Lost Boys,” the early image of a vampire was largely based on either the spindly, creeping night monster of Nosferatu fame or the iconic portrayal by Bela Lugosi in the 1931 film “Dracula.” The classic vampire appearance consisted of a black cloak, white shirt, and slicked-back hair. This image persisted through countless vampire films and TV shows over for decades, with only minor variations.

However, with the appearance of “The Lost Boys,” director Joel Schumacher and writer Jeffrey Boam completely flipped the script. The vampires in this film were young, hip, and incredibly attractive, with flowing locks of hair albeit in the stylish mullet of the 1980’s and stylishly clad in leather pants and rock tees. They were the epitome of the 80s “pretty boy” aesthetic. Their charm and seductiveness made them irresistible and dangerous all at the same time.

The lead vampire, David, played by Kiefer Sutherland, embodied this new vampire image perfectly. He donned a leather jacket, had bleached-blond hair, and exuded a sexy, dangerous, rebellious energy. Sutherland’s look and demeanor were in stark contrast to the traditional archetype of the old-fashioned, aristocratic Dracula type. This clearly signaled a enduring departure from the old vampire archetype and opened the door to the modern vampire.

It wasn’t just the evolving appearance of the vampires that made “The Lost Boys” such a groundbreaking film. This flick also had an incredible soundtrack, that was an auditory feast for the ears; featuring songs from some of the hottest artists of the 80s, such as INXS, Echo & the Bunnymen, and The Doors. The music helped to create an electric, moody atmosphere that perfectly captured the feeling rebellion and freedom of being teenager in the 80s.

This unforgettable soundtrack, combined with the new, “pretty vampire” image, made “The Lost Boys” a cultural touchstone that has endured to this day. It inspired countless imitators in the vampire genre on both the large and small screen; from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” “Vampire Diaries” to the “Twilight” saga. It also helped to usher in a new era of horror movies, where the focus was more dedicated to creating a stylized atmosphere as much as developing jump-out-of-your-seat scares.

Ultimately, “The Lost Boys” was a game-changer in the world of vampire fiction. By presenting vampires as handsome, seductive figures, exuding a dangerous appeal that is hard to resist. It also helped to redefine what a vampire could be when broken free of the archaic confines of the literary vampire archetype. The film’s enduring legacy in the ever-changing landscape of the horror genre is a testament to its influence and cements its impact in popular culture today.

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