The Here & Now

Say it ain’t so: Could they go and remake ‘The Lost Boys’ without Santa Cruz?

The 1987 movie “The Lost Boys” might be Santa Cruz’s finest moment in cinema, but there’s no indication Hollywood is aiming to return to shoot its reboot of the vampire classic. A remake shot in some other place called Santa Carla would forever de-couple the film from Santa Cruz. And that’s worth mourning.

There is, as I see it, one — and only one — advantage to dying young. You don’t have to witness everything you hold dear bulldozed by subsequent generations. To that point, it is my sad duty to report that you and I have now officially survived long enough to confront this blasphemy:

They’re remaking “The Lost Boys.”

Yes, that “Lost Boys,” the 1987 cult classic film that remains Santa Cruz’s finest moment in modern cinema, the appealingly campy horror flick chock full of vampires and mullets and guys named Corey.

In other news, they’re also building a second Beach Boardwalk, this one designed by Elon Musk, and they’re installing one of those Kelly Slater wave machines out on the bluff above Steamer Lane.

OK, I’m just kidding about those last two news items, but as to the first, which is every bit as vulgar and unnecessary, I only wish I were kidding.

The news broke over the weekend that a new version of “The Lost Boys” is in pre-production, to be directed by Jonathan Entwistle, who created the TV shows “The End of the F***ing World” and “I’m Not Okay With This.” (For the record, Entwistle was 3 years old when the original film was released.) They’ve also signed up a couple of promising young actors, neither of whom is named Corey.

Roughly five thousand news outlets picked up the story, but I couldn’t find a single one that mentioned Santa Cruz, or its big-screen alter ego in the film, Santa Carla.

So I checked in at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the setting for many of the original film’s best scenes. No one from this new production, I was told, has contacted the Boardwalk. I reached out to my friend, Atlantis Fantasyworld impresario Joe Ferrara. It was inside Joe’s comic-book shop where many of the Frog Brothers scenes were shot. Joe is my go-to for all things “Lost Boys.” And yet he also knew zilch about this new production.

So, not only are they remaking “The Lost Boys,” could it be that they’re going to de-Cruz-ify it as well?

Right there in the top five of the most quintessential Santa Cruz experiences a body can have is this: Every summer (at least pre-COVID), the Beach Boardwalk kicks off its weekly movies-on-the-beach series with a screening of “The Lost Boys.” To sit there on Main Beach bundled up in the sand in the glow of the carnival light from the Boardwalk, and to watch on a giant outdoor screen that famous opening sequence, an eerie nighttime aerial shot swooping in from the bay of the very same beach where you’re now sitting with “Cry Little Sister” blasting from the speakers — well, it’s a breathtaking, hair-raising thrill of synchronicity that instantly connects you with the stylized Reagan-era Santa Carla on screen.

Would a remake of “The Lost Boys” shot in some other place called Santa Carla take anything away from that experience? Maybe not. But it would forever de-couple the film from Santa Cruz. And that’s worth mourning.

A movie on the beach by the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
(Via Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk)

Another famous scene from the opening of the film, you’ll remember, has to do with the giant and obviously fake “Welcome to Santa Carla” sign erected on West Cliff Drive, graffitied on the back of which is “Murder Capital of the World.” That is, of course, a reference to a real-life period of madness and mayhem in Santa Cruz, when the town was plagued by seemingly random serial killings, just a decade or so in the recent past when the film was shot.

However cheesy you might find “The Lost Boys,” that one fleeting shot fuses the film with a lived-in reality — a frightening darkness behind the glamorous bright lights — that many Santa Cruzans, especially from that era, feel in their bones. And it accounts in part for the deep affection that locals have for this movie above all others shot in Santa Cruz.

Of the thousands I could talk to on this subject, I knew of one person who was so ideal, it sounds like I’m making her up. My friend Jennifer Otter Bickerdike (a) has a Ph.D in popular culture, specializing in exactly this kind of fandom; (b) is an unabashed lover of all things “Lost Boys”; and, most crucially (c) is Santa Cruz born-and-raised and was a teenager when the film was released. In the vast international fanboy/girl army of “The Lost Boys,” Jen is on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Predictably, she loathes the idea of a remake. “No,” she said. “Do not do this. If they don’t shoot it in Santa Cruz, that would be an absolute tragedy.”

Jen delights in the lurid sense of camp and humor in “The Lost Boys,” but she also looks at it as an anthropologist might, albeit one who attended Harbor High. Pointing to the “People Are Strange” montage during the opening titles, she said, “It captures something that is not so much in Santa Cruz anymore, and that is an inherent beauty, but also a grittiness and roughness. There (was) a darkness in Santa Cruz, whether it’s drugs, or crime, or poverty. And somehow that darkness is captured in those vampires.”

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On social media, news of the remake was greeted with a broad consensus of moans and booing, probably mostly a reflection of what so many people think of the motives and artistic integrity of entertainment companies looking to squeeze more dollars out of an already established brand name.

Still, Jen and I managed to agree that a remake of “The Lost Boys” could be a good thing if the filmmakers returned to Santa Cruz and decided to make the new film a kind of updated companion piece to the original, with the same attention to revealing the tormented soul of Santa Carla in a definitively 2020s way, just as the first film did for the 1980s.

But, so far at least, we see no evidence that that will happen. If it does, we can assure this new generation of filmmakers, Santa Carla will be ready for her close-up, again.