Corey Haim Double Feature: Haim vs. The Monsters
If you were an 80’s kid, you definitely are aware of the Corey’s. If you are unaware, allow me to briefly elaborate. During this era, there was no hotter teen sensation than the two Corey’s, Corey Haim and Corey Feldman. They were the teen idol actors who became popular for their thousands of rabid fans they made through their various teen magazine spreads as much as the motion pictures they were part of. While they were more known for their teen-focused comedy/drama vehicles such as License to Drive or Dream a Little Dream, the Corey’s were also knee deep within the horror genre. Now, because of this, I have decided to craft a double bill for each of the Corey’s to show the genre films that they were apart of are actually quite good and effective, which can run contrary to their public persona that they had in the 80’s, one of being perceived bad boys, teen idols and focus of multiple Teen Beat posters splashed across many girls (and boys) rooms across America.
First up, the Corey that came off as the one you could safely bring home to the parents, the good boy of the duo, Corey Haim. Mr. Haim, who left us at the extremely early age of 38 back in 2010, always seemed to be the more marketable of the two and came off as the “good cop” of the pairing. The two films I have chosen for the Haim double bill contain an obvious addition that also happens to feature the other Corey, with Haim being a central character while Feldman is clearly a smaller side character. For the second movie, I went with a movie that I fondly remembered as a great little horror film as I was growing up, and one that I clearly identify, along with The Monster Squad, as two movies that define my early childhood love of horror. Without further ado, allow me to introduce the Haim double bill of 1987’s The Lost Boys and 1985’s Silver Bullet.
The Lost Boys is definitely the more well-known of these two features. Directed by Joel Schumacher, he of the ill-fated turn for the caped crusader with Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, spins a yarn about a recently divorced mother and her two sons (Dianne Wiest, Jason Patric and Corey Haim) who are forced to move in with her father in the beachside town of Santa Carla. The town of Santa Carla has become known as the murder capital of the world, with a spate of killings and mass disappearances plaguing the locals. Upon arrival, older brother Michael becomes enamored with a local woman he meets at a concert, who happens to run with a group of salty individuals led by the charismatic David (played to perfection by Kiefer Sutherland). As we soon learn, they are not just the common amusement park riff raff. They are, in fact, blood sucking vampires who are killing anyone at will and doing pretty much whatever they want, and now they have their sights set on making Michael one of them. Can Michael resist the power that these vampires possess, save the girl and destroy the evil threat, along with the help of his little brother Sam and the local vampire “experts”, the Frog brothers, before they become either an evil denizen of the night or just the next food course?
Silver Bullet is the more obscure of these two features, but it really shouldn’t be considering the pedigree involved. Silver Bullet, based on a novelette by Stephen King (who also wrote the screenplay for this adaptation) and directed by veteran TV director Daniel Attias (in his only feature film from what I could dig up), tells the story of a wheelchair bound child Marty (Corey Haim), who lives with his older sister Jane (Megan Follows) and their parents. A series of murders have seemed to grip the small town Tarker’s Mills in recent months, with brutal mutilations and vicious eviscerations occurring on nights that surround the full moon. After coming into contact with the apparent creature that has caused all this mayhem, Marty is now thoroughly convinced that this is the doing of a real life werewolf. Can Marty and Jane, with the reluctant help of their off kilter Uncle Red (Gary Busey, in all his wacked out glory) figure out who amongst the locals in town are keeping this terrible secret of being a werewolf before this creature of the night comes for them all?
I have very strong feelings toward both of these classic 80’s slices of horror. The Lost Boys is a breezy romp of a vampire movie, with the heartthrob sensations of Haim, Patric and Sutherland smoldering across the screen, bring the requisite sexiness to the proceedings to draw the appropriate crowd in, but the horror lovers are not left out in the dark. Multiple sequences of the vampires in their full transformed glory are included, with multiple bloody rampages occurring throughout the movie. One that comes to mind, involving a late-night beach massacre of a group of bikers that the group of vamps use as an initiation for poor old Michael, is a vicious symphony of bitten heads, spraying crimson and general disregard for human life. The Lost Boys also has a genuine heart and playfulness around its outer shell, and this is greatly aided by the charming turns from Corey Haim as the affable Sam and a hilarious turn from the two supposed great vampire hunters of the neighborhood, the Frog brothers, played with deadpan performances by Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander. The Lost Boys is really one of the most purely enjoyable horror movies from the 80’s that exist. You get the blood from various vampire attacks, you get the romance between Michael and the mysterious Star (Jami Gertz), you get the comedy from the Corey’s and none of it feels wasted or underdeveloped in any way that hinders the movie as it barrels forward. You also get one of the most charismatic performances of all time out of Kiefer Sutherland, clearly having the time of his life as head vampire David. He chews the scenery with such ferocity that all the other actors can do is just try to keep up. Great supporting input from Dianne Wiest and Edward Herrmann round out the proceedings and put a nice bloody bow on it all. The Lost Boys is just a fun time pure and simple, and what’s wrong with that?
Silver Bullet is on the other end of the spectrum. This movie is pure straight horror with no room for the comedic undertones of The Lost Boys. It’s not a continuous dread fest, as we get scenes of nice cathartic release from the crazy antics of Uncle Red, who plays the three-time divorcee brother of Marty’s mother who has a gift for building the wheelchair-bound Marty a variety of motor-powered transportation vehicles. These silver gleamed chariots are dubbed “Silver Bullet” by Marty, probably due to their ridiculous speed that they can obtain, especially the final creation that Red creates for him, complete with a headlight and fire accents. Silver Bullet is just a fun horror ride that The Lost Boys provides, but it is done with a more dramatic heft and brutality that can only be truly delivered by someone like Stephen King. The werewolf ends up racking up quite the body count, and he honestly is not partial to any kind of human being. The werewolf knocks heads clean off, brutally slashes to death a pregnant woman, mauls a child and beats a local to death with his own baseball bat. The brutal murders definitely deliver the goods in terms of blood and mayhem, but don’t tread into the Romero line of evisceration that easily could have been obtained if the camera lingered on the carnage a few more seconds. This movie is filled with amazing actors and performances all around. We got Terry O’Quinn (The Stepfather) as the local sheriff, resident movie tough guy Lawrence Tierney (Reservoir Dogs, Elaine’s father from Seinfeld) as the local bar owner and Gary Busey as the enigmatic Uncle Red. Another highlight is the performance of Everett McGill (Twin Peaks and The People Under the Stairs) and the local priest who is just trying to keep his congregation in a positive light and provide hope. In the end, Silver Bullet is 95 minutes of the breeziest and most pure classic monster horror you can watch, and honestly sometimes that is all you need.
So, at the end of the day, why these two movies as a double bill? Well, they both feature creatures that we are very familiar with and derive from the original Universal Monster lineup (werewolf and vampire), they both star eccentric and off kilter older male characters, with Barnard Hughes portraying the offbeat grandfather in The Lost Boys and Gary Busey as the cursing and boozy Uncle Red in Silver Bullet, and honestly, its two great horror films that star Corey Haim. These are two breezy and fun horror movies, that when needed can turn up the sinister gauge, and ultimately end up delivering the goods all within a 90 minute or so time frame. Nothing drags and no scene is wasted. You really can’t ask for a more efficient three hours of horror and, in the end, that’s a win.