‘If The Lost Boys reminds you of your pre-teen years or provided the soundtrack to your youth, you might want to look away while I tell you it just hit its 30th birthday. That’s right, people: The Lost Boys is OLD. Younger than me, you understand, but still old…’
Fortunately for us, the boys have aged superbly well and the movie has more than stood the test of time. In honour of this very special birthday in 2017, what better way to pay tribute to the film but with a tour of some of the filming locations made famous by the beautiful vampires of Santa Carla?
The move was originally to be set in Santa Cruz, and this was also the name of the town on screen. However, being referred to as the ‘Murder Capital of the World’ wasn’t quite the tag line the city was looking for, so it refused permits for the production crew. Although the movie was filmed in Santa Cruz, the town was renamed Santa Carla so as not to scare off the tourists. Not that it had much impact, as the city had already been dubbed ‘Murderville, USA’ after a spate of gruesome murders in the early 1970s.
Santa Cruz is located around 75 miles south of San Francisco and has a population of roughly 60,000 people, plus the odd vampire or five. Being a seaside resort, it’s heavily reliant on tourism dollars, and that’s where you come in…
During the opening scenes of the movie, Lucy, Sam and Michael are seen driving into Santa Carla from Phoenix and pass the now iconic welcome sign. It’s here that Sam spots the graffiti spray-painted on the back, declaring Santa Carla the ‘Murder Capital of the World’ and this sets the tone for everything that transpires thereafter. Although the welcome sign isn’t actually there (what, with it not being real and all) the location at West Cliff Drive is instantly recognisable by the backdrop.
Remember the scene where a couple are in their car and The Lost Boys float over and rip the roof off, flying off with the male occupant? Yeah? Well, that life-affirming piece of footage was filmed at the overlook on East Cliff Drive, which provides an excellent view across the lights and action of the Boardwalk. Visit at your own risk…
Grandpa and his house were a perfect match in that they were wildly eccentric and full of surprises. When Lucy, Sam and Michael first pull up in the drive, Grandpa’s flat out on the deck and the boys suspect he might be dead. He’s not, of course, and he leads the family inside to start their new life. He doesn’t think it necessary, until the end of the movie, to mention that his city has a *tiny* issue with some of its more nocturnal residents. Luckily, Grandpa’s house is very real, and very much still standing. It’s located a 333 Golf Club Drive but appears to be uninhabited… by humans.
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
Even if you’ve only seen TLB once, you’ll be familiar with the boardwalk as it almost acts as another character. A LOT happens here throughout the movie and it’s usually the scene for all the important first meetings between the characters. The Boardwalk runs the length of Beach Street (who’d have thought?) and is still central to life in Santa Cruz three decades after the movie’s release.
Max’s Video Store, Boardwalk
Max first sets his eyes on Lucy when she finds a lost boy of her own at the entrance to his video store. They get to chatting and eventually end up agreeing to a job and a date. Although the video store isn’t real, the shop and location are. The building on Municipal Wharf is occupied by the Santa Cruz Bay Company and is a souvenir store. The exterior of the store, whilst now a different colour, is pretty recongnisable. It’s not run by the Head Vampire IRL, so feel free to browse with bite-free abandon.
Frog’s Comic Store, Boardwalk
The original store where Sam meets the Frog brothers was Atlantis Fantasy World on Lower Pacific Avenue, but the premises was destroyed during a ‘quake in 1989 and has since moved home several times. It’s still owned and run by the same guy, but is now based at 1020 Cedar Street in the city. Although not the filming location, the store is very proud of its connection with The Lost Boys and still attracts visitors from all over the world to have their photos taken with a copy of the ‘Vampires’ comic book that the boys gave to Sam to educate him on the area.
The iconic railway bridge where the Lost Boys take Michael to hang out (quite literally) on their first proper get together isn’t actually in Santa Cruz. The scenes were filmed off Interstate 5, Exit 170 of the Magic Mountain Parkway in Valencia and the bridge is a lot smaller than it looks in the movie. These days, it’s a bit less desolate looking and, once you’ve practiced your vampire hangin’, you can pop to the nearby Six Flags Hurricane Harbor or the local Starbucks and find some tasty looking victims…
Have you visited any movie locations on your travels?