In 1987 the horror genre was dominated by the slasher fad of that decade. Zombies were mostly something seen only in Italian gorefests with the name Fulci attached. Ghosts and supernatural films were few and far between. Vampires … well, vampires had been neutered and reduced to whiny flouncy boys by the likes of Anne Rice.
Seemingly out of nowhere came a film that introduced a young audience to a new, hip breed of bloodsucker in The Lost Boys. These vamps, while retaining the inherent sexiness of Rice’s Louis and Lestat, were, by their actions, a callback to the more vicious creatures made popular by the likes of people like Christopher Lee. The Lost Boys was nothing short of a cultural phenomenon and a film that served as a touchstone for the zeitgeist of the time.
Years passed, and the stars of the film went on to other things. Kiefer Sutherland would later come into our collective living rooms to torture terrorists in “24”. Jason Patric would be found starring in films such as Speed 2 and Narc. “The Coreys” – Haim and Feldman – were another matter. While they both continued to act in films, it was their off-screen challenges which brought them more than their fair share of fame (and infamy). At one point they even starred in their own reality show, which exhibited their troubles (both personal and professional) for everyone to see.
Through it all, though, The Lost Boys fans remained true and the film’s popularity continued to grow. So much so that in 2008 Warner Brothers released Lost Boys: The Tribe. The film was met with less than stellar reviews. Newcomers to the blossoming franchise were confused and dismayed when the film failed to live up to its legend. Long-term The Lost Boys fans were outraged by the perceived prison rape of their much loved film and characters.
Then, sadly, on March 10, 2010 – after a much publicized battle with drugs and alcohol – Corey Haim died. Even though his contribution to The Tribe was minimal (he is only seen in a brief scene at the end of the film), producers decided there was still “franchise potential” in the property. On October 12, 2010, Warner Home Video will release Lost Boys: The Thirst direct to DVD. Starring Feldman and the AWOL Frog Brother, Jamison Newlander, the film hopes to rekindle the audience’s love for the antics of the beach-bound vampire hunters.
Dread Central spoke with Hans Rodionoff, one of the writers of The Thirst, and he filled us in on the new film and what plans were in place for the future of this beloved franchise.
Dread Central: You’ve been involved in some interesting projects. I’d like to ask you about a couple of them and get a few thoughts on each.
Hans Rodionoff: Fire away.
Dread Central: You wrote and were an Associate Producer of a version of Marvel’s Man-Thing with Brett Leonard directing. How did that come about, and what are your thoughts on that experience?
Hans Rodionoff: Man-Thing is the project that began my relationship with Marvel. When I was a kid, my grandma gave me an old Power Book and Record with the Man-Thing in it called “Night of the Laughing Dead”. I think my grandma just thought it was like the rest of the series, like the Spider-Man ones, so she probably had no idea what she’d given me. But I was way too young for it, and I only got to play it once. My mom and dad heard the moans and screams coming from the record player and promptly confiscated it. Still, that one playing had a profound effect on me, and so I started collecting Brother Voodoo comics. I think that experience is actually what got me the job.
When I went in and met with Marvel and Artisan, I had a really deep understanding of what made the Man-Thing terrifying. My love of that title eventually spread to the rest of the Marvel horror titles, and I started collecting Werewolf by Night and Tomb of Dracula, too. After I wrote Man-Thing for Marvel, I went on to work on Werewolf by Night and Brother Voodoo. I know a lot of people grew up loving Spider-Man and the X-Men, but these horror-themed characters were the heroes of my youth, so getting to work on the film versions of those stories was a really great experience. Unfortunately, right around the time that I was working on Brother Voodoo, Man-Thing went into production with a director who didn’t love the source material. It seems to me like the majority of comic book adaptations come out best when the director is a huge fan of the source material to begin with. Sam Raimi with Spider-Man, Jon Favreau with Iron Man, Bryan Singer with X-Men. I think that Brett is a very capable director and I’ve seen other movies that he’s done that I enjoyed, but I don’t think he really loved the underlying material, so the movie didn’t come out as well as it could have.
Ultimately, I view Man-Thing as a disappointment and a missed opportunity. If the movie had worked, it would have opened the door to the Marvel horror universe, and we probably would have seen a Werewolf by Night film and a Tales of the Zombie film. It’s like Goyer and Norrington opened the door with Blade, and Man-Thing closed it. So, as a fan of those horror-themed properties, I am really disappointed that things went the way they did.
Dread Central: How did you get involved with the Watchmen history film, Under the Hood?
Hans Rodionoff: I had written several projects for Warner Premiere, and I was in the process of writing the Wildstorm comic series Lost Boys: Reign of Frogs. In one of the issues, Edgar Frog laments the loss of a near mint set of Watchmen comics. Matt Bierman at Warners was reading all the issues before they went to the printer, and he picked up on the reference. Months later, when the opportunity to adapt Under the Hood came up, Matt called me and asked me if I’d be interested in adapting the story. I flew up to Vancouver and met with Zack, Debbie, Wes and the director, Eric, on the set. We came up with the idea of doing it as a faux “60 Minutes” episode, and I wrote a pitch document that basically acted like a modern day journalist’s review of one of the pinnacle episodes of the “Culpepper Minute” from the 70s.
Dread Central: You worked on two Clive Barker related projects: Saint Sinner and the unreleased Tortured Souls: Animae Damnatae. Did you find it difficult to adapt Barker? How involved was he in the production of Saint Sinner? What is the current status of Tortured Souls?
Hans Rodionoff: No, I find collaborating with Clive to be really easy and fulfilling. He has such a deep understanding of pathos that it makes connecting with his material on a gut level very simple. There’s usually a pretty heavy layer of fantasy and bizarre mythology laid on top of the human story, but when it’s laid bare, Clive’s got incredible dramatic sense. My involvement on Saint Sinner was not as deep as it was on Tortured Souls. I was brought on to the project late in the process, when they already had a green-lit draft from Doris Egan. They had hired the director, Josh, and he had some changes that he wanted to implement. I basically worked with the director through production and did a series of production polishes.
Tortured Souls is in production limbo at the moment, which is really a shame. The figures and the underlying story are so fantastic, and there’s such an interesting mythology behind all of the Tortured Souls and Primordium. I’m really proud of the work I did on that script, and I know that Clive would make a really intense, visceral film from it. In the current filmmaking climate, I think it’s difficult for a studio to green-light any horror film that’s not based on a pre-existing property, whether it be a sequel or a remake. It’s really hard for original horror content to get done at the studio level right now, especially something of this size. You look at the figures and you realize that the budget for creature effects alone is at least a million, so there’s no real micro-budget version of Tortured Souls. I do think its day will come though; it’s too cool not to happen.
Dread Central: How did you become involved with Lost Boys: The Thirst?
Hans Rodionoff: I was prepping a film based on a comic series that I did called Mnemovore, which I am writing and directing, when the opportunity to write Lost Boys 3 came up. I couldn’t do it, so the studio went to a really talented writer named Evan Charnov. Evan came up with the core idea of the movie and wrote a couple of drafts. When he turned in his last draft, the financing for Mnemovore had fallen apart, so I became available. Warners hired me to come in and rewrite the script so that it had a consistent voice and tone to The Tribe and Reign of Frogs. I wanted to tie the third film to the comic series and to the two alternate endings on The Tribe, so I changed some of the characters and the storyline to make The Thirst follow the same mythology. The central conceit of the movie though, what Evan first came up with, remains the same.
Dread Central: Tell me a little about the plot of Lost Boys: The Thirst.
Hans Rodionoff: I’ve always felt that two of the best things about the original Lost Boys are that it’s about family, and it’s about addiction. Michael basically chases a girl, gets involved with a bad crowd and becomes addicted to blood. Becoming a vampire is a metaphor for drug addiction. It’s Michael’s love for his family that pulls him free from his addiction. I really wanted to return to those themes in the Thirst. The Frog Brothers are front and center in this movie, and it’s their relationship that drives the whole plot.
Dread Central: You say how Lost Boys, in your mind, is basically about family and addiction. Given that, did the situation with Corey Haim’s death factor into how the material was presented or its tone?
Hans Rodionoff: When Corey Haim passed, we had already wrapped principal photography on The Thirst, and the hope was to bring the character of Sam Emerson back for a fourth film, if we were able to make one. We all felt like Corey Haim was such a big part of the heart and soul of what made the original LOS BOYS such a great film. The Thirst pays tribute to Corey and the character of Sam Emerson in a pretty significant way, but all of those scenes were written and shot before Corey passed.
Dread Central: How much of this film is tied to the events in Lost Boys: The Tribe?
Hans Rodionoff: I’d say you could probably skip The Tribe completely and not feel lost, but there are a couple of things that happened in The Tribe that are referenced and that dictate what the characters do. Most of the connective tissue is in the two alternate endings. The Thirst shares more DNA with the Reign of Frogs comics than it does with The Tribe.
Dread Central: There is a faction of the fan-base that was, shall we say, less than supportive of Lost Boys: The Tribe. Some even went so far as to accuse the film of tarnishing the original’s legacy and that it was merely Corey Feldman trying to “cash in.” How would you respond to such accusations?
Hans Rodionoff: Well, first off, I don’t think sequels ever tarnish the originals. I will take a sequel or a prequel over a remake every time. Remakes essentially say, “We can do it better” and with the Lost Boys, I just don’t think that’s possible. It’s one of those lightning-in-a-bottle films. Everyone involved in the original film was at their peak, and it managed to capture some of that magic that only happens once in a great while. You will never have a better David than Kiefer, you will never have a better Michael than Jason Patric, a better Star than Jami Gertz, a better Sam than Corey Haim or better Frog Brothers. It’s impossible. It’s like remaking The Hitcher. You will never top Rutger Hauer. Why try? I think the general rule should be, don’t remake something unless you’re damn sure you can improve it.
The other thing about sequels is that, if you don’t like them, you can ignore them. I don’t really care for Episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, but they don’t dampen my enjoyment of the original trilogy. Now, a remake of Star Wars … that would piss me off. Who are they gonna cast as Han Solo? I shudder to think. As far as the accusations that Corey is cashing in, I think the only way you’d say that is if you’d never heard Corey talk about Lost Boys. The original film is incredibly important to him, and he wants to honor it. In fact, as I remember, it was hard to get him in The Tribe. He wanted to see the script first, and he had a lot of notes for me in terms of how Edgar would talk and act. He was never looking at the paycheck.
Dread Central: How has the film’s director, Dario Piana (Deaths of Ian Stone) been to work with? Have there been any changes made to your original script?
Hans Rodionoff: Dario is fantastic. He’s really collaborative, and visually he’s very specific. He actually draws all his own storyboards – and they’re good. It was really easy for him to show me how he planned on shooting something and I could tailor the script to fit his vision. Yes, when Dario came on board he incorporated a lot of changes to the shooting script, mostly to help him figure out the logistics and blocking of scenes.
Dread Central: Tell me a little about the film’s casting process. The production went with a lot of people who (other than Feldman) have sparse name/face recognition. Was that done as a way of keeping costs low or were they truly the best actors that auditioned?
Hans Rodionoff: One of the production requirements of shooting the film in South Africa was that the majority of the cast had to be from South Africa. I think that they definitely got the cream of the crop, and I think Dario hired the best actors that auditioned.
Dread Central: I know Jamison Newlander did some scenes which were deleted in The Tribe. What brought him back for The Thirst?
Hans Rodionoff: The deleted scenes were meant to set up the third movie so Jamison knew when he shot his scenes for The Tribe that if a third film became a reality, he would be a big part of it.
Dread Central: Lost Boys: The Thirst is going, for the most part, direct-to-DVD. Do you know of any plans to continue the series with additional films?
Hans Rodionoff: Corey, Jamison and I sat down a while ago and mapped out where we’d like the Frog Brothers to go in the future – we came up with a story arc that would essentially build the Frog Brothers as spin-off characters from the original film. Those stories can be told in a variety of formats: more films, comic books, a television series. Ultimately, it all comes down to the fans. There are plenty of Lost Boys fans out there, and they will decide whether or not they want to see more. If the appetite is there, we’ll feed it.
Dread Central: Is there any truth to the rumors that Lost Boys is being considered as a TV series?
Hans Rodionoff: I know that a Lost Boys series was set up at a network a little while ago, but Corey and Jamison were never contacted about it, so I’m not sure if it involved the Frog Brothers or if it was just going to use the Lost Boys name as a branding element. I don’t know anyone that was involved with it, and from what I understand, it wasn’t going to use the mythology of The Tribe, Reign of Frogs or The Thirst. That has nothing to do with the series that Corey, Jamison and I have spoken about, which would absolutely be a Frog Brothers show.
Dread Central: Now that Lost Boys: The Thirst is coming out, what’s on your plate and what are you plans for the future?
Hans Rodionoff: It’s Halloween, man. I check out for the whole month of October. I know most movie-type people check out around Thanksgiving and then come back after Sundance … not me. I’m going to be watching horror films, going to haunted houses and eating Halloween candy for the next month. After that, we’ll see…
Big thanks for Hans taking the time to talk with us. Look for Lost Boys: The Thirst on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital Download, next Tuesday.
Got news? Click here to submit it!
Quench your thirst in the comments section below.