The Lost Boys vs. The Monster Squad: The Ultimate Showdown

The Lost Boys vs. The Monster Squad: The Ultimate Showdown
The posters for The Lost Boys and The Monster Squad (Image: WB/Sony)

A group of ill-equipped kids is forced to come together and battle unthinkable evil. It’s a sentence that describes two films that were released within two weeks of each other 35 years ago: Joel Schumacher’s The Lost Boys on July 31, 1987, and Fred Dekker’s The Monster Squad on August 14, 1987.

Being only seven years old at the time, I didn’t see either film in the theatre when they were released, but in the decades since, each has been hugely formative to me in many ways. I love The Lost Boys for its hip, 1980s essence; comic-book quips; and A-list actors. I love The Monster Squad for its adoration of the monster genre, spot-on casting, and whip-smart sense of cool.

But which do I love more? I honestly couldn’t say. Maybe it’s The Lost Boys because it’s on TV and referenced so much more often. Maybe it’s The Monster Squad because of how I watched the film regain cultural relevance firsthand. Either way, it’s time to settle the score. I’m putting them up against each other, toe to toe, trying to figure out my ultimate favourite: The Lost Boys or The Monster Squad?

Round 1: Basic Plot

The monsters of The Monster Squad. (Image: Sony)The monsters of The Monster Squad. (Image: Sony)

The Lost Boys is about two brothers and their recently divorced mother who move to a coastal California town — a place that they soon realise is crawling with vampires. The vampires then try and recruit the family into theirs, with bloody results.

The Monster Squad is about a group of friends who find an ancient book that reveals the world will be ending soon. So they must team up to fight Dracula, the Wolfman, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and the Mummy to save the world.

These are oversimplifications to be sure, but the fact that The Monster Squad kids battle actual famous monsters instead of random, sexy vampires gives it the edge.

Point: The Monster Squad.

Round 2: The Villains

The Lost Boys of The Lost Boys. (Image: Warner Bros.)The Lost Boys of The Lost Boys. (Image: Warner Bros.)

We’ve already mentioned that bad guys in The Monster Squad happen to be some of the most famous monsters in history: Dracula, the Wolfman, the Creature, and the Mummy. Normally that would be tough to beat, but let’s look at the competition.

While those monsters are iconic on their own, the villains in The Lost Boys became iconic because of the movie. No one ever forgets Kiefer Sutherland’s incredibly evil (but cool) David, his three friends (all looking like they walked out of a music video), or head vampire Max, the gang’s seemingly kind but secretly deadly patriarch.

The Lost Boys invented iconic villains instead of just casting them, so it gets the slight edge.

Point: The Lost Boys

Round 3: The Heroes

The Squad.  (Image: Sony)The Squad. (Image: Sony)

Besides being famous for being a great movie, The Lost Boys is famous for being the first time Corey Haim and Corey Feldman ever shared the screen. Their characters, Sam and Edgar, are two of the main heroes in the film, along with Edgar’s brother, Alan (Jamison Newlander). Later, they’re joined by Sam’s brother Michael (Jason Patric). Not a bad team.

But The Monster Squad has… the Monster Squad: Sean (Andre Gower), Patrick (Robby Kiger), Eugene (Michael Faustino), Horace (Brent Chalem), Phoebe (Ashley Bank), and Rudy (Ryan Lambert). They’ve got The Lost Boys team outnumbered and, frankly, out-cooled by Rudy alone. Throw in Horace’s iconic lines and the fact that a girl actually plays an active role and it’s no contest.

Point: The Monster Squad

Round 4: Needle Drops

You can’t talk about 1980s movies without talking about music, and both The Lost Boys and The Monster Squad have great songs throughout. “Rock Until You Drop” by Michael Sembello is the obvious highlight in The Monster Squad, but you’d be hard-pressed to pick just one highlight in The Lost Boys.

“People Are Strange,” “Lost in the Shadows,” “Cry Little Sister,” and, of course, no one who watches The Lost Boys ever forgets the fiery on-screen performance of “I Still Believe” by the incomparable Tim Cappello. This one is a blow out.

Point: The Lost Boys

Round 5: Catchphrases

I’m not sure I’d say The Lost Boys has any “catchphrases.” Lots of famous lines. Lots of great dialogue. Memorable deliveries. But nothing, and I mean nothing, comes close to “Wolfman’s got nards” from The Monster Squad. That’s one you probably heard before ever if you haven’t seen the movie.

Point: The Monster Squad

Round 6: Fandom

Obviously, both The Lost Boys and The Monster Squad have fans. Each is a film that, 35 years later, we’re still talking about. But unlike The Lost Boys which had immediate success upon release, The Monster Squad had to build up that fan base over many, many years. As a result, Monster Squad fans have something of a unique kinship with each other unlike Lost Boys fans and that’s why they get the edge. (No one ever cared enough to make a Lost Boys fan documentary, right?)

Point: The Monster Squad

Round 7: Cultural Relevance

The Coreys. Icons.  (Image: Warner Bros.)The Coreys. Icons. (Image: Warner Bros.)

Fans adoring something is one thing. What society as a whole — including people who aren’t obsessive fans — think is something else all together. As previously mentioned, The Lost Boys was an immediate hit upon release, eventually grossing over $US30 ($42) million against its $US9 ($12) million budget. The Monster Squad, however, in small part because of competition from The Lost Boys, was an initial failure, reportedly grossing only $US4 ($6) million against a $US12 ($17) million budget. Yikes.

That’s just one reason why The Lost Boys easily takes this category. People saw it and loved it from day one. The other reason is largely that its cast and crew is just generally better known even today, since it’s filled with names like Joel Schumacher, Corey Haim, Corey Feldman, Kiefer Sutherland, Edward Herrmann, Dianne Wiest, Alex Winter, Jason Patric, and Jami Gertz. Their combined star power keeps the film fresh in the minds of fans and non-fans alike.

Plus Hollywood just keeps trying to remake The Lost Boys. Monster Squad? Not so much.

Point: The Lost Boys

Round 8: Frights

Davis in The Lost Boys (Image: Warner Bros.)Davis in The Lost Boys (Image: Warner Bros.)

Both The Lost Boys and The Monster Squad are fun ‘80s adventures working within the framework of the horror genre. So while they both have laughs, with The Monster Squad probably having more so thanks to the script co-written by Shane Black, that’s not really of concern here. What is of concern is how horrific each movie is, and it’s fairly close.

The Monster Squad doesn’t skimp on the creepiness — it has some excellent practical effects, like Dracula’s head on a gross large bat body, as well as instances of characters cursing at children. And the villains, especially in the third act, are hugely menacing. But The Lost Boys has all of that and brings things up a notch. Schumacher’s direction, such as those eerie vampire POV shots in which the camera seems to be flying through the air, and his use of shadows in the final battle to delay the reveals, make for some genuine terror and jump scares.

Point: The Lost Boys

Final Round: Geekiness

The Monster Squad treehouse. (Image: Sony)The Monster Squad treehouse. (Image: Sony)

This category is very personal to me. You may not even think about this watching the movies now but part of the reason why I loved both The Lost Boys and The Monster Squad so much growing up is that the characters were geeks. Geeks before geeks were cool.

Sam (Haim) meets the Frog Brothers (Feldman and Newlander) in their family’s comic book shop. They all talk about Superman. At the time, I’d never seen anything like that in a movie. Meanwhile, The Monster Squad kids get in trouble for drawing monsters at school and have their own clubhouse covered in cool monster images. These were kids that I both wanted to be like, and kind of already was like, and so that played a big role in my adoration.

But which is geekier? It’s close, but I think you have to go with The Monster Squad. Not just for the clubhouse, drawings, and geek trivia, because they truly all bond over their shared love of one thing: monsters, the thing they’ll have to defeat. You never quite get that the Frog Brothers care about comics.

Point: The Monster Squad

And the winner is…

Poster for The Monster Squad (Image: Sony)Poster for The Monster Squad (Image: Sony)

This shocked me. But in a narrow 5-4 victory I’ve chosen The Monster Squad as the 35-year-old film I love the most. That’s not a slight against The Lost Boys. Obviously, I love The Lost Boys. But overall, it just seems like The Monster Squad spoke more to me. Do you agree?