The Lost Boys IRL: MTV Visits Santa Cruz
Walking in the steps of movie vampires - and eating ice cream, drinking wine and (failing at) surf lessons along the way...
Before there was Twilight and and vampires who twinkled in the sun and Robert Pattison, there was the (vastly superior imo) cult vampire film The Lost Boys. I mean, there was also the OG vampire Dracula, the cinematic icon Nosferatu, Buffy whose slay rivals Bey, and one of the best New Zealand vampire films ever What We Do In The Shadows.*
*I may be biased because I’m from New Zealand, but actually I’m not because this film is hilarious and director Taika Waititi is a legend, the end.
All that to say, there are lots of Very Excellent Vampire Films that are not Twilight. Not least, The Lost Boys, which has staked its claim (pun very much intended) in the canon of said vamp films with a cult following to rival a cronut’s. Except in this case, the cult following is justified. If you haven’t seen it - well, you should. But in the meantime, picture the 80s-kids-in-a-horror vibe of Stranger Things mixed with any/all of the above Excellent Vampire Films, and a side of noodles that turn into worms.
So in celebration of the film’s 30th anniversary this year, I went to Santa Cruz to fangirl where it was filmed and apparently into a vampire myself, given my to predilection to wear full length black clothing in 26 degree heat. See below. What you can’t see below is the whale sticking out of this very wall in the film’s opening credits, because it’s since been removed (RIP Willy). But hey, who needs that whale when you have this one:
Fun Fact: In the film, the town is actually called Santa Clara, because it’s also called ‘The Murder Capital of the World’ and obviously Santa Cruz didn’t really want to become synonymous with that slogan. Strange huh.
Fun Fact 2: In the film the main characters are driven into Santa Cruz by their mum, which we’ll pretend is totally the reason I got mum to tag along with me on this trip and not at all because I don’t have my full licence and needed a chauffeur. (Also, she’s amazing and one of the few people who can vaguely comprehend my directions or lack thereof, and also put up with my need to pull over literally every 5 minutes so I can pee).
It’s normally a hilly, scenic, two hour drive south from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. But as any good horror-comedy-adventure should start, we picked one of the approx 3.7 days of torrential rain California sees per year to do this journey. If you’re driving on the right (read: wrong) side of the road with a heady dose of jetlag - well, let’s just say we’re glad to be here.
Fortunately part of the film’s tagline is ‘Party all night,’ because dear god I needed a drink after that. And if you’re going to drink things, Santa Cruz isn’t a bad place to do it - homeplace of very excellent chardonnays and pinot noirs (see: Alfaro and Nicholson Vineyards), specialty spirits (see: Venus Spirits distillery) and even some of the world’s best apple juice for the lucky sober drivers among us (see: Martinelli’s apple juice). Don’t say I don’t think of you mum.
The next part of the film’s tagline is ‘sleep all day’, which was also a pretty easy thanks to the Hotel Paradox, who delivered me breakfast and made my bed when mum refused to.
One of the standout features of both Santa Cruz and The Lost Boys is the Boardwalk, which is where all the cool kids hang out in the film and where the non cool kid (me) hung out in real life. Like any smart person who’s a few cocktails deep and confronted with seven loop-de-loops and an advert for ‘tortilla cheese cake’, mum opted out of this part. Fortunately, what I lacked in ride companions I made up for in enthusiasm and flailing hair that probably definitely took out the eyes of the person behind me:
Besides boardwalks and booze, a major draw card of Santa Cruz is its proximity to the ocean and it’s moniker as ‘the birthplace of surfing in the US.’ So naturally, I got a surfing lesson with Club Ed Surf School. Although tbh, there was nothing natural about me attempting to overcome ice cold waves and a crippling fear of sharks with a plank of styrofoam. But guys - I did it. I stood up. Obviously I also bailed headfirst and swallowed a gallon of ocean and quite possibly a starfish, but once or twice: I actually stood up. It was a very big deal and obviously I became obsessed with the idea that post Santa Cruz, I would take up surfing and live out my life as Kate Bosworth in Blue Crush. Then I remembered I live in England where the very small selection of surf spots are basically sub zero degrees, and also that I suck.
We came, we saw, we drank, we looped, we didn’t get bitten by vampires, we did bite lots of yum food, we conquered, we almost put down a deposit on this stunning little pink seaside shack:
And if you go to Santa Cruz, you can do all those things too. I mean, you mightn’t find a bar with your name emblazoned all over the side to make you feel well at home, but you can’t have everything now can you.