The best part of "Lost Boys: The Thirst" has to be that it isn't "Lost Boys: The Tribe," a putrid DTV sequel released in 2008 that did a masterful job tarnishing the legacy of the original, and much beloved, Joel Schumacher film from 1987. Though nobody explicitly asked for it, outside of Corey Feldman's agent, the plague continues in this second sequel, which is a lighter, brighter, more cartoon take on the vampire-hunting premise, but still lacks the flavorful horror-comedy ingredients that made the first picture such an enduring classic.
Struggling to pay the bills and deal with the death of his pal Sam, Edgar Frog (Corey Feldman) hasn't been able to engage the outside world much, trying to stay in contact with his brother Alan (Jamison Newlander), who's working to suppress his vampire urges. Offered a job to retrieve the brother of a popular teen vampire novelist (Tanit Phoenix) from the clutches of a bloodsucking club DJ (Seb Castang), Edgar eagerly accepts, recruiting comic book store employee Zoe (Casey B. Dolan) to help. Heading into a colossal rave to stop the mass distribution of The Thirst, a deadly vampire drug, Edgar and his posse find they might be in over their heads with these fanged hipster parasites, requiring the services of an old ally to survive the fight.
Shot in South Africa (awkwardly attempting to pass for Southern California), "The Thirst" aims for a more illuminated, welcoming take on vampiric happenings, with bright sunlight and beautiful beaches helping the film to relax after the humorlessness of "The Tribe" burned off all the fun. With a change in locale and some needed franchise hindsight, director Dario Piana has a major opportunity to get the series back on track, or at least back to giddy vampire-smashing basics, anchored by Feldman and his Eastwoodesque grunting and squinting.
Of course, not having any sort of budget kills the mood of "The Thirst" immediately, with Piana unsuccessfully trying to make the pocket change set aside to finance this picture feel like something substantial. Despite some needed breathing room provided in the film's climatic rave showdown, everything else here feels cut-rate and unimaginative. With an effeminate music DJ as the main villain and Newlander's role basically reduced to a brief cameo, the script misfires on a conceptual level, missing a chance to supply a furious Frog Brother free-for-all the fans want to see and the film sorely needs. I'm all for sexy vampires strutting around topless while the band Aiden once again musically urinates on "Cry Little Sister," but "The Thirst" needed to kick down the doors and hit the viewer right in the face with a big, snappy show of splattery genre force. Instead, it's meager parade of drab kills and uninspired cartoon weaponry, leaning on Feldman to bring "Lost Boys" magic he doesn't possess.
Using flashbacks to the original film here is a bit of a cheat, with "The Thirst" attempting to erect an emotional bridge for Edgar that allows the series to say goodbye to Corey Haim and welcome Newlander back into the fold. Reminding viewers how well it was done the first time around isn't a smart play for Piana. "The Thirst" actually feels more like a SyFy pilot, with the franchise finally getting past vampires to send the Frog Brothers out on Scooby-Doo missions -- the climax of the film hinting that werewolves may be the next stop on monster tracking tour.
The VC-1 encoded image (2.35:1 aspect ratio) is hampered some by the inherent smeary quality of the mediocre HD cinematography, which takes a few moments to get used to, only to be disrupted by the delightfully grainy, fresh look of original "Lost Boys" clips. Colors are muted, but purposeful; greens and reds are executed with polish, with the film's closer taking more advantage of various hues. Detail is quite nice, with close-ups reading the true appearance of the actors, while keeping the gruesome particulars in check. Shadow detail is a touch muddy during exceedingly low-light sequences, but it's only a moderate concern.
The 5.1 DTS-HD sound mix here is rather healthy for a low-budget picture, maintaining a swell mood of loud, rumbly soundtrack cuts and fierce genre noisiness. Dialogue is crisply delivered, despite Feldman's gravely speaking voice, blended correctly with the overall vampire business. Directionals are active during violent encounters, while the subterranean locations enjoy an echoed quality that sustains the fantasy. This can be an overinflated aural experience at times, but the basic reach of monsters, music, and mayhem comes through accurately, giving the film a little extra help when the visuals fail it.
English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles are included.
"How to Kill a Vampire" (5:44) is a tour of vampire hunting weaponry, hosted by Edgar Frog. While goofy, the featurette does offer an opportunity to survey all the cool, highly detailed props.
"Return of the Frog Brothers" (6:49) is a faux newscast hosted by Feldman, who sits down to interview the Frog Brothers, captured here in a particularly volatile mood.
"The Art of Seduction: Vampire Lore" (12:20) is a featurette hosted by Charisma Carpenter that compiles interviews with vampire experts and "Thirst" personnel, who explore the nature and popularity of bloodsuckers. It's informative, and Carpenter in HD is always a good thing, but everyone feels stiff and overly rehearsed.
"What is The Thirst?" (6:09) are a series of commercials/confessions from vampires and floozies, gathered here to extol the wonders of the titular drug.
A Trailer has not been included.
What made "The Lost Boys" unique wasn't hissing vampires and Corey Feldman, it was the feature's sense of style, humor, and era-appropriate youth market pageantry. It was crimson-blasted screen seduction. It was a shirtless behemoth playing a saxophone. Making these sequels on the cheap misses the point of the 1987 picture, turning Mr. Schumacher's wild ride into lazy efforts that lack scares, laughs, and often purpose.
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