"I'm at the mercy of your glands," says a kid brother to his sexually awakening older sibling in "The Lost Boys," a slow, slightly scary teen comedy on the horrors of adolescence -- but not the kind that can be cured with Clearasil.
Here in Santa Clara, teens grow fangs instead of zits, and a Peter Panoply of blond vampires never grow old as long as they stay out of the sun. They're a good-looking band of leeches, like pretty, pale immortals out of Anne Rice novels. But this faltering fantasy has more in common with "The Goonies" than with really first-rate vampire lore.
It's an off-key but often funny mix of teen romance and preteen adventure that's at its best when it focuses on the kid brother, who represents bewildered siblings everywhere. One day, your big brother is your brother; the next, he's a monster. It's as simple as that -- a universal premise that, sadly, never lives up to its juicy promise, weakened when the filmmakers pander to older-teen tastes by inserting video love interludes.
Corey Haim, an accomplished kid comedian, is young Sam, a resourceful kid who moves to Santa Clara with his family. Dianne Wiest takes a throwaway role as his newly divorced mother and Jason Patric is his hunky brother Michael, who transmogrifies in response to peer pressure and the temptations of love. The family moves in with cutesy Grandpa Emerson -- an eccentric old taxidermist played by Barnard Hughes. He's just a kid at heart, like everybody else in this town run by hippies and built around a glittery amusement park.
"Looks like I'm not the only one who got lucky," cracks Grandpa when both he and Michael come back from all-night stands -- old Pa with the widder up the road and Michael with a fetching vamp' named Star. Jami Gertz is steamy as the moll of the lead vampire, played by Kiefer Sutherland, Donald's charismatic son. (He had a similar role as an older bad boy in "Stand by Me," which was a successful variation on this theme.)
Another "Stand by Me" alum, Corey Feldman, like a little bitty Bill Murray, absolutely steals the movie, as a boy vampire-killer named Edgar Frog. When Feldman's in a scene, the movie is suddenly alive, energetic and completely captivating. Edgar, his brother and Sam are the only people in Santa Clara with much sense. Everyone else, even Sam's mother and Edward Herrmann, as a video store owner, is dating. And as we all know, that alone will make you crazy.
The clear-headed kids track down the "blood-sucking Brady Bunch" as they hang from their long toenails in their underground den. Equipped with squirt guns full of garlic juice and holy water, these vampire vigilantes go on a stakeout, fighting the immortals to the death in this inventive gross-out of a finale, with director Joel Schumacher of "D.C. Cab," a natural born rabble-rouser, finally in his element. It starts slow, but finishes fast with some clever plot twists. In the end, all is not lost with these boys.
The Lost Boys, at area theaters, is rated R and contains profanity and violence.