Tag Archives: Corey Haim

The Lost Boys (1987)

lost boys

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Vampire gang terrorizes teens.

This review is the first of a series in which each Monday for the month of May we’ll take a look at a vampire movie from the ‘80s with this one being probably the best and most well-known. The story centers on two brothers named Michael and Sam (Jason Patric, Corey Haim) who along with their divorced mother (Dianne Weist) move to California to live with her hippie father (Barnard Hughes) in his ranch-style home. It is here that Michael comes into contact with a boy biker gang lead by David (Kiefer Sutherland). Michael is infatuated with the attractive female member of the gang named Star (Jami Gertz) and thus is receptive to becoming a part of the group and even drinking a strange liquid as part of the initiation. Unfortunately the drink turns him into a vampire like them and it is up to Sam and his two self-styled vampire hunter teen friends (Corey Feldman, Jamison Newlander) to kill them off.

For the most part this film is a lot of fun and has held up well. I enjoyed the way it captures the Santa Cruz boardwalk atmosphere and the eclectic mix of the teen culture that makes up southern California. I also found some of the dated elements to be kind of fun especially when Sam states he can’t be without his MTV even though teens and college kids of today, at least the ones I’ve spoken to, do not feel that MTV is the trendsetter that it was back then, or even hip at all.

Haim gives another engaging performance and deserved to be top billed. He outshines his Corey counterpart by a mile and in fact Feldman comes off as quite boring and has only one funny line, which doesn’t come until the very end.

Sutherland is effective as the baddie, but the guys that make up the rest of his gang are quite transparent and do nothing but laugh on cue and wear outfits that make them look like they are leftover members of some bad-boy ‘80s rock band.

Patric is bland as well and the way Keifer and his gang can so easily manipulate him into doing just about anything they ask during their first encounter with him makes his character seem too passive. I also thought it was ridiculous the way he goes back to the gang’s hideout and makes love to Star while the rest of the boys aren’t there. Don’t get me wrong having sex with a beautiful woman certainly tops every red-blooded male’s list, but here it gets shown in a cheesy, clichéd music video type way and I also thought he would be too emotionally freaked out to have any type of sex as this occurs just after he had found out he had turned into a vampire and even levitated in the air.

There are similar problems with the behavior of the Weist character. One of them is when she goes to her boyfriend’s house and has dinner with him while his dog sits at her feet even though this was the same animal who had tried to viciously attack her earlier, which would’ve been enough to scare anyone else from ever wanting to get close to that dog ever again. Her job as a clerk at a video store is another joke as most people who worked at those places, back during the dark ages when they actually existed, did it as a part-time gig as the pay was low and wouldn’t be enough to support one person let alone a mother and her two sons. There is another scene, albeit brief, in which Sam, who is a teenager, asks her if he can sleep with her in her bed as he is afraid to be alone and she agrees, which most viewers will consider to be quite inappropriate.

Yet despite these issues and even a few others it’s still a good movie with some exciting and imaginative special effects. Director Joel Schumacher creates a creepy atmosphere and infuses a good deal of humor although it could’ve worked even better had it been played-up as a straight horror film.

Spoiler Alert!

I do though have to also quibble about the Edward Herrmann character as the boys initially think he is secretly the vampire ringleader, but then when he is invited over to their house for dinner he does not react adversely to the garlic or water that gets thrown at him. In the end though it turns out that he really was a vampire and the only reason those things didn’t have an effect on him, at least according to his explanation, is because when the owner invites him into their home those things then have no effect. Yet it was the Patric character who had invited Herrmann inside even though it was actually Hughes who owned the place, so the logic of his explanation doesn’t work.

Also, earlier in the film we see Herrmann’s dog growl at Kiefer and his gang when they walk into Herrmann’s video store. This is before we learn that Herrmann is a fellow vampire and secretly familiar with the boys, so if that was the case then his dog most likely would’ve been familiar with them too and therefore wouldn’t have growled, but instead would’ve been friendly and even receptive to them when they entered.

End of Spoiler Alert!

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: July 31, 1987

Runtime: 1Hour 37Minutes

Rated R

Director: Joel Schumacher

Studio: Warner Brothers

Available: DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube

License to Drive (1988)

license to drive

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: Driving without a license.

Les Anderson (Corey Haim) is in a jam. He has flunked the written portion of his driving exam and therefore has his license denied, but a really hot girl by the name of Mercedes Lane (Heather Graham) wants to go out with him and he needs some wheels to get there. So, after his parents (Richard Masur, Carol Kane) have fallen asleep he decides to ‘borrow’ his grandfather’s car and chaos results, which forces him to return home with the vehicle in less than pristine condition.

This film was quite controversial when it was first released as it contains a scene involving an intoxicated man (Henry Allan Miller) getting behind the wheel of Les’s car and driving it, which critics felt was ‘promoting’ drunk driving, or at the very least making light of it. To me the biggest problem with the segment is the fact that the driver gets into the car with the keys somehow in the ignition even though Les and his friends are in the back of the car using those very same keys to open up the trunk, so unless they had two sets of keys, which is never stated, it then flunks the logic test. I also thought the scene where Les tries to jump from one speeding car to another while out on the freeway was just as dangerous and more hair raising than funny.

Haim in my opinion is the best thing about the film. I know he got the reputation of being a Hollywood ‘bad boy’, but the kid does have a certain appeal. This was his second pairing with Corey Feldman, who I didn’t like as much as he came off more as a crude ‘80s teen caricature. This also marks Heather Graham’s official film debut since her uncredited appearance in Mrs. Soffel four years earlier did not have any speaking lines and here she is terrific. I also found Masur and Kane to be quite appealing as the parents who resemble real human beings and not like the grown-ups in some ‘80’s teen movies where they are portrayed as being oppressive, overbearing, out-of-touch jerks.

The humor though is only mildly amusing and how the Les character could’ve missed the answers on the test is hard to imagine as they relied on basic common sense that just about anyone could’ve answered. The film also fails to have the same whimsical quality as Adventures in Babysitting which came out around the same time and had the same adventurous night-on-the-town concept.

If you’re looking for an amiable time filler for a slow evening than this may do the trick, but overall it’s just an innocuous ‘80’s teen programmer at best.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: July 6, 1988

Runtime: 1Hour 29Minutes

Rated PG-13

Director: Greg Beeman

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video

Firstborn (1984)

first born 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Mom’s shitty new boyfriend.

Wendy (Teri Garr) is a divorced mother living with her two teenaged sons Jake (Christopher Collet) and Brian (Corey Haim in his film debut). She begins to feel lonely and insecure when her ex Alan (Richard Brandon) finds another woman and gets remarried. On the rebound she latches onto Sam (Peter Weller) a drifter who can’t seem to hold down a job and deals drugs on the side. He moves in and begins an antagonistic relationship with older son Jake that spirals out-of-control and turns the once peaceful household into a war zone.

I liked the realism particularly the way the anger and animosity come to a head slowly. The characters and dialogue are believable and the film portrays teenagers far more accurately than most other ‘80s flicks. The violent confrontation at the end is exciting, but in some ways I found the way Jake locks horns with his equally bullying English teacher Mr.  Rader (James Harper) as being just as compelling if not more.

On the negative end the plot is by-the-numbers and does not offer any twist or interesting added angle. The characters don’t grow or change and the film lacks a much needed denouncement where we could’ve seen how the ordeal helped them evolve as a family.

Garr is perfectly cast as a vulnerable character and the idea of a lonely divorcee finding someone on the rebound while conveniently ignoring the red flags until it is too late happens quite a lot. Collet is tolerable, but gets out shined by his younger costars including Sarah Jessica Parker as his girlfriend and Robert Downey Jr. as his school chum as well as Haim who clearly display more on-camera charisma and show why they all ended up with the longer, more memorable careers.

corey haim

sarah jessica 2

Weller is convincing as the heavy, but the film is one-dimensional and fails to offer any insight. If you want to catch this simply to see the young stars before they were famous then it will be a fun flick despite the subject matter, but overall it’s nothing special and has an atrocious music score.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: October 26, 1984

Runtime: 1Hour 40Minutes

Rated: PG-13

Director: Michael Apted

Studio: Paramount

Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray

Murphy’s Romance (1985)

murphys romance 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Love blossoms in desert.

Emma (Sally Field) is a divorced mother with teenage son Jake (Corey Haim) who moves to a small Arizona town and try to singlehandedly start up a horse ranch. Once there she meets Murphy (James Garner) an older gentleman who she starts to have feelings for only to have her ex-husband Bobby Jack (Brian Kerwin) show up and try to rekindle their relationship.

This is a very leisurely paced romantic movie that doesn’t add anything new to the genre, but does end up going down like a cold drink on a hot afternoon. The dialogue is snappy and the wrap-up quite pleasing. It keeps things on a realistic level by showing Emma struggling with a lot of chores and financial constraints and thus making it perfectly relatable to those who have moved and tried to start over. It is also nice to see Haim when he was still a cute kid and before he became the 80’s poster boy for trouble child stars. Unlike other romantic comedies there is no one moment that is particularly funny or engaging however the scene involving Bobby Jack and Murphy fighting over Emma during a country dance party is amusing.

On the negative side it tends to be too formulaic. It only gets interesting when the ex-husband arrives, but then the film plays this scenario out in much too obvious a fashion. It would have been better had the ex-husband not been such a prototypical jerk and there had been more conflict and intrigue as to who she would end up choosing.

There is also a scene where Bobby Jack tackles Emma into a mound of hay in an effort to rekindle some of their old passion, but Emma ends up becoming allergic to the hay. Although this was clearly done for obvious laughs it doesn’t seem too believable. This is a woman, who by her own admission, has been working with hay and horses since she was child so this affliction would have become apparent long before then or at least during the several hours that it is shown where they are shoveling it into the stalls. It is possible that she was only faking this reaction in order to get away from him, but if that were the case then it should have been made more clear to the viewer

This is tailor made for the romantic diehards and they should enjoy it even though others may find it only passable.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released:  December 25, 1985

Runtime:  1Hour 47Minutes

Rated PG-13

Director: Martin Ritt

Studio: Columbia

Available: VHS, D VD, Amazon Instant Video