First Ten Pages Breakdown: The Lost Boys (1987)

Screenplay by: Jan Fischer, James Jeremias, Jeffrey Boam

Breakdown by: Anthony Faust

Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Haim, and Jason Patric star in this 1980’s classic about a group of vampires terrorizing a small coastal town in Southern California.

CHARACTER INTRODUCTION

After the prologue, which shows a policeman being brutally attacked by an unseen perpetrator, we see a family on the move. Their destination is the same place where we witnessed the carnage depicted in the opening scene. The screenwriters do something clever to signal to the reader that Michael will be the one we will follow in the subsequent pages.

PAGE 2

EXT. PACIFIC COAST – MORNING   

Helicopter shots of the COASTLINE and HIGHWAY 17 approach-
ing Santa Clara:  ocean, agriculture, etc.  CAMERA FINDS
a beat up LAND ROVER pulling a U-HAUL TRAILER.

INT. ROVER                               

LUCY ANDERSON drives — late thirties, sexy, warm, com-
fortable with herself — a bit of a free spirit.  SAM,
11, a victim of too many afternoons in shopping malls
watching Bratpack movies, sits next to her in his trendy
duds, suffering the foreign coastline with his large
Malamute dog NANOOK.

MICHAEL, in his late teens, slumps in the back seat.  He
is a loner, an independent and not enjoying the ride.

                LUCY
        We’re getting close…

                SAM
        What’s that smell?

                LUCY
               (filling lungs)
        Ocean air!

                SAM
        Smells like something died.

                LUCY
        Guys, I know it hasn’t been easy…
        the divorce and now the move…  but
        I think you’re really going to like
        living in Santa Carla…

No reply.  Her sons look unconvinced.

                LUCY
        How ’bout some music.

She turns on the radio to COUNTRY AND WESTERN.

                SAM
        Keep going.

She next finds an EASY LISTENING station.

                MICHAEL
        Keep going.

She next finds Donovan singing “Mellow Yellow.”

                SAM/MICHAEL
        Keep going.

                LUCY
               (laughing)
        Wait.  Haight-Ashbury!  The summer
        of love!  ‘Mellow Yellow.’

                SAM/MICHAEL
        Keep going!

They all laugh as Lucy turns the dial to a CURRENT ROCK

HIT and the boys relax.

THEIR POV – LARGE BILLBOARD

Showing Boardwalk, Pier, etc. Reads:    “Welcome to Santa
Carla.”

As they pass, only Michael notices what has been spray
painted on the back of the sign:  “MURDER CAPITAL OF THE
WORLD.”

In showing Michael as the only one among his mother Lucy, and his brother Sam, to receive the privileged information that Santa Carla, their new home, is the murder city capital of the world, the screenwriters communicate to the reader that Michael acknowledges an obstacle. It will be a place he will soon find himself struggling desperately to survive. The focus here is on Michael.

TONE/GENRE

Considering the fact that The Lost Boys describes a demographic in its title, its not surprising that the first ten pages of the screenplay contains numerous references that appeal to teenagers. This is a screenplay that speaks to the MTV generation. Michael is the guy the target audience will empathize with. He’s cool, assured, and a bit mischievous as this passage insinuates.

PAGE 7

INT. AN UPSTAIRS BEDROOM                       

Sam is stacking his comic book collection on the shelves
when Michael enters.

                MICHAEL
        This room is mine.

                SAM
        I was here first.

                MICHAEL
        Okay.  I’ll flip you for it.

Sam can see it’s his only chance.

                SAM
        Okay…

Michael smiles, grabs Sam suddenly and “flips” him upside
down.  Michael is laughing, but his tone changes dramati-
cally when Sam reaches out, grabs hold of Michael’s crotch
and squeezes hard.  Michael drops Sam.

                MICHAEL
        Owwww!  You little shit!

Sam is out the door as Michael pursues.

       DOWN THE STAIRCASE THROUGH THE LIVING ROOM         

Sam yells to Lucy, who is outside.

                SAM
        Help me, Mom.  Help.

                LUCY
        Soon.

Sam tears open a pair of old sliding doors and runs into:

THE OLD BAR                             

Stuffed animals of all kinds staring down at him:  Squir-
rels, birds, cats, etc.

Also, boxes of eyes, pelts, hides, wooden animal forms.
In other words, all the equipment and accouterments of
a taxidermist.

MICHAEL
dashes in.  Both boys stare in wonder.
The whole scene is very weird.  Suddenly a voice from
behind.

                GRANDPA
        Rules!

Both boys jump, Grandpa is behind them.

                GRANDPA
        Got some rules around here.

 INT. KITCHEN
Grandpa opens the refrigerator revealing a shelf with a

cardboard flap on it reading:  “Old Fart.”

                GRANDPA
        Second shelf is mine… keep my
        root beers and double-thick Mint
        Oreo cookies there… Nobody
        touches the second shelf…

Grandpa closes the door as Michael notices something out
the window, as they follow Grandpa back towards the
living room.  Michael points to a small marijuana crop
growing outside.  Sam is puzzled but Michael make a
“smoking a joint” gesture.

DRAMATIC SITUATION

In The Lost Boys, the dramatic situation is expressed in two parts to the reader. First, the drama, which gives the situation that follows context, is supplied in the prologue. The screenplay opens with this bristling scene.

PAGE 1

EXT. THE OCEAN – NIGHT                         

CAMERA SKIMMING along the top of the water.  Moonlight on
the surf.  Racing toward the beach where large bonfires
burn.  TITLES AND TITLE SONG.

CAMERA FLIES THROUGH FLAMES revealing:

THE SANTA CARLA BOARDWALK                     

This is the place where it’s all happening on warm summer
nights.  MUSIC and NOISE.  Arcades.  Thrill rides.  A
brightly-lit Ferris wheel turning against a jet black sky.

INT. CAROUSEL                         

Spinning merrily.  Loud CALLIOPE MUSIC.  Young kids and
teenagers occupy the horses and benches.  A tough group
of “SURF NAZIS” also ride.  “My Beach, My Wave” on their
T-shirts.

The LOST BOYS enter the carousel house.  Cool kids in dis-
tinctive dress.  Compelling; not threatening.  They are
DAVID, MARKO, PAUL, DWAYNE; David the obvious leader.
GREG, the head Surf Nazi, sits in one of the carousel’s
benches with his arm around his girl, SHELLY.  He thinks
he’s King of the Boardwalk.. And doesn’t like it one bit
when Shelly casts an appreciative glance toward David.
David smiles back at her.  Not flirting, just being chi-
valrous. 

Greg scowls and takes his anger out on Paul by
tripping him as he goes by.  An insult… a shove.  David
joins Paul.  Surf Nazis join Greg.  The Lost Boys close
ranks.  A major melee seems ready to erupt, when the ugly
end of a nightstick is shoved against his Adam’s apple.
A three hundred pound security GUARD is at the other end.
The ride suddenly ends.  CALLIOPE MUSIC STOPS.

                GUARD
       I told you to stay off the
       boardwalk.

For an endless moment David’s and the Guard’s eyes lock
in mortal combat.  Neither one willing to give ground.
Then David smiles.

                DAVID
        Come on, let’s pull.

The Lost Boys begin to leave as the Guard turns to Greg
and the Surf Nazis.

                GUARD
        You too, off the boardwalk.  And
        don’t come back!

Greg and the Surf Nazis grumble and leave.  There is
bad blood between them and the Lost Boys, but both groups
hate the Security Guard more.

EXT. BOARDWALK – NIGHT (AERIAL SHOT)

CAMERA TRAVELS through the empty amusement park as the
lights go off systematically.  CAMERA CONTINUES past the
rides to reveal:

LARGE, EMPTY PARKING LOT                       

The Security Guard approaches his lone car carrying his
lunch pail.  Deadly quiet.

VAMPIRE POV SHOT

Zooming down on the Guard.  A rush of air.  High-pitched

SCREECHING.  WHISPERING VOICES.

THE GUARD

looks up — reacts for a split second — and then he’s
gone — pulled UPWARD OUT OF FRAME so fast, he’s just a
blur.  Only his lunch box — bouncing on the pavement
— remains behind.

SHOTS OF GROTESQUE CARNIVAL IMAGES ON THE BOARDWALK      

Clown faces bobbing.  Dark images in the carousel.

EXT. DESERTED BEACH – NIGHT                 

WAVES LAP against the beach.  Lonely and deserted.  No
one around for miles.

All is quiet and still, until… WHOOSH!  THUD!

THE GUARD’S BODY

falls from the sky and lands in the wet sand directly IN

FRONT OF CAMERA.

Horrible and bloodless.  Sucked dry, like a deflated
balloon.  CAMERA PULLS UP, UP, UP until the coastline is
visible to us.  And NIGHT DISSOLVES INTO DAY.

Drama has been given to the reader in this heart-pounding set-up. The situation, the second part of this rule, is made clear in the subsequent scene when Michael sees the “Murder Capital of the World” graffiti on the back of the sign.

Only then can we put these two together and understand the screenplay’s dramatic situation. A family looking for a fresh start must contend with the reality dramatized in the prologue.

WORLD OF THE STORY

In The Lost Boys, the screenwriters describe a lively, eccentric beach town on the edge of the world. Read how the tone is set by describing Santa Carla as a place that harbors a dark secret.

PAGE 4

EXT. SANTA CARLA – MORNING                   

ESTABLISH Summer/Fun atmos — Bikinis, Surfers, Bikers,
Colorful Locals, etc.

HIGH SHOT soaks in boardwalk and surrounding area as
CAMERA MOVES DOWNWARD finding Sam and Nonook in the crowd
running to:

EXT. GAS STATION/SURF RENTAL/TRAMPOULINE RIDE   

In the center of the action.  Lucy pumps gas into the
Rover as Sam runs up to her.

                SAM
        Mom, there’s an amusement park
        right on the beach!

                LUCY
        That’s the boardwalk, Sam.

                SAM
        Can we go now, huh?

                LUCY
        Maybe later.  Grandpa’s expecting
        us.

Lucy is disturbed as she notices TWO RUNAWAY TEENAGERS
RUMMAGING through a nearby garbage bin for something to
eat.  She and Sam are distracted however as they see
Michael rolling his HONDA MOTOR BIKE from out of the
U-Haul.

THEME

The Lost Boys is a classic coming of age story. After the first few pages, this theme is crystal clear. A young teenager, Michael, and his younger brother, have come to a town after a divorce has ripped their family apart. The temptations of Santa Carla will be too great for Michael to resist. One of those is a young, beautiful woman that Michael’s gaze locks onto during a rock concert along the beach.

PAGE 9

EXT. BEACH IN FRONT OF THE BOARDWALK- NIGHT       

Michael and Sam walk across the beach, around the burning
bonfires.  The beach is crowded.  Greg and the Surf Nazis
hang out.  It is all very strange and exciting to Sam and
Michael who make their way towards the lively boardwalk.
Sam fusses with his “mussed” hair and trendy clothes.

                MICHAEL
        You’re beautiful.

                SAM
        Wanna change my hair, my clothes,
        my face.

They go up the stairs near the bandstand.  A LOUD ROCK
GROUP performs.  The crows and action are exciting.
Michael and Sam make their way through the young people..
Michael suddenly sees:

STAR

A heart-stopping young beauty.  Different from anyone in
the crowd, listening to the music and even though she’s
with LADDIE, 14, a sweet-faced but sad boy, she seems
alone.  As the MUSIC BUILDS, she suddenly feels Michael’s
gaze and their eyes meet.  She is a person looking for a
friend.  Michael smiles.  Star wants to smile back, but
she can’t, and reaching for Laddie, disappears through
the crowd.  Michael grabs Sam and follows.

In conclusion, The Lost Boys is a strong screenplay. Despite a somewhat schlocky plot that deals heavily in vampires and 80s tropes, it tells a good story and follows the five rules in its first ten pages quite effectively.


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