Lost Boys Locations
With a decidedly sunny, SoCal vibe, most of the film was shot in and around Santa Cruz, California. The city was given the fictional name of Santa Carla, and a passing shot of the Boardwalk tells us why – it’s plastered with flyers for missing persons, and Santa Cruz didn’t want to become known as “the murder capital of the world.”
Many locations around the city were used, including the Boardwalk, the Pogonip Open Space Preserve and the Santa Cruz Mountains. There were also a few scenes shot in Palos Verdes near Los Angeles and Santa Clarita. Most of the interior scenes, however, were sets built on the Warner Brothers Studio lot in Los Angeles.
A tour of the Santa Cruz area – which is beautiful in its own right and totally worth exploring – will have you dreaming of whizzing along the beachfront on a motorcycle, spending an afternoon wandering the Boardwalk and contemplating what it may have been like for the young actors to hang from the trestle of a railroad bridge over a foggy gorge.
Here’s your recipe for a great SoCal roadtrip to some of the most classic scenes from The Lost Boys. We’ll drop a spoiler alert here!
The original script was designed for a much younger audience – and younger actors. It was to be a lot more like The Goonies, with the principally casted characters being around 13 or 14 and the vampire-hunting Frog brothers a couple of chubby, eight-year-old Cub scouts.
Meet the family scene in The Lost Boys
Santa Cruz Boardwalk
The Santa Cruz Boardwalk, which is the oldest surviving amusement park in California (1907), serves as the backdrop for a lot of scenes in The Lost Boys – and it’s where viewers are first introduced to “the family.” The family being a group of big hair-wearing, wheelie-popping, teenage-brooding vampires.
The 1911 Looff Carousel, the Giant Dipper coaster and the Municipal Wharf all feature prominently in Boardwalk scenes.
After moving to Santa Carla to live with their recently-divorced mom and somewhat-salty grandfather (Barnard Hughes), where are two bored teens going to get their kicks? That’s right, the Boardwalk. First intrigued with vampire-in-training Star, Michael becomes obsessed with the gang and eventually makes plans to join their numbers. This is where viewers meet Dwayne (Billy Wirth), Marko (Alex Winter), Paul (Brooke McCarter) and Laddie (Chance Michael Corbitt) – and of course, the leader of the pack, David.
Michael looks longingly after Star, riding behind David, as his younger brother Sam pokes fun at him – “She stiffed ya, man,” he chuckles as they continue down the Boardwalk.
A few moments later, we see what they’re really capable of – a necking couple pause to ask if the other heard something just before the roof of their car is ripped off and they’re both snatched into the sky by a hungry gang of vampires.
From downtown Santa Cruz, take Laurel Avenue east to Front Street/Pacific Avenue, turn right, and keep all the way left at the roundabout. Exit the roundabout at Beach Street and follow all the way to Boardwalk parking.
Michael drinks blood scene in The Lost Boys
100 Terranea Way
This scene can be one of several classified into a single category: Michael, Don’t Do The Thing. After going to hang out with Star, David and the rest of the teenage miscreant gang at their horror movie-set secret hideout, Michael is presented with a goblet that contains – you guessed it – human blood.
Now, David is the culpable character here, because he manipulates Michael’s mind into thinking he’s about to eat maggots and worms, therefore making a sip from an offered goblet infinitely more normal.
“Drink this, David. Become one of us,” exhorts David as he hands him the cup. Without really knowing what he was doing, even though Star warned him not to, even though all the viewers in the theaters were shaking their heads, Michael drinks the blood and loses his grip on reality for the rest of the night.
The interior of the Lost Boys’ hangout was actually a set built on the Warner Brothers lot in downtown Los Angeles. It has since been dismantled, although most of the other Lost Boys filming locations remain and are accessible to the public. If you’re up for a few hours on the road – or you’re flying home out of Los Angeles – you can visit the cliff where the fictional entrance was filmed.
The cliff that hides the vampire cave is a real place, although the cave itself was a set built in a studio. From Santa Cruz, take Highway 152 east and exit onto Interstate 5. Follow Interstate 5 all the way to Los Angeles and merge onto Interstate 405. Follow Interstate 405, then exit onto Interstate 10 south. Follow the signs via Rancho Palos Verdes Drive to 100 Terranea Way. From there, you can take a variety of beautiful trails to the cliff face.
The boys fall scene in The Lost Boys
The Lost Boys Bridge in Santa Clarita
After screaming through the night on motorcycles at dangerous speeds along a cliff, as delinquents often do, Michael, David and the gang come to the turning point. Up until now, we can’t be sure Michael is really on the level. He’s been a bystander for some pretty horrible events, and he had to have known what he was drinking was blood – it doesn’t taste like cherries, after all – but it’s not clear if he knows what’s coming or if he thinks it’s all some elaborate cosplay spectacle.
Once he’s dangling from the underside of a railroad bridge tressel, viewers get a sinking feeling that he now knows exactly what’s coming – and he’s not entirely into it. But how does he stop it from happening? We can see him wrestle with it as David, Dwayne, Paul and Marko drop, one by one, into a seemingly bottomless gorge below.
“Initiation’s over, Michael,” David says, as if to give him one final push. “It’s time to join the club.”
The last one left, we see Michael decide he can’t go back, and he, too, falls into the foggy depths.
The railroad tressel where the boys initiate David is one of the few scenes that were not shot in Santa Cruz. It was actually shot near Santa Clarita, which is a good distance away. From Santa Cruz, take Highway 101 south toward Los Angeles, and exit at Highway 46 near Paso Robles. Follow Highway 46 east to Interstate 5. Follow Interstate 5 and exit left at Magic Mountain Parkway. The parking lot will be just ahead, and you can walk across the Santa Clara River on the The Lost Boys Bridge.
Sam meets the Frog Brothers scene in The Lost Boys
Edgar and Alan Frog are a pair of brothers who fancy themselves vampire hunters in the seedy underworld of Santa Carla. Although it seems as though no one takes them seriously, they’re some of the only characters we see who really knows what’s going on – kind of.
Sam first meets the brothers working in a comic book shop where, after some mild razzing, proceeds to have a comic book knowledge throwdown with them. Seemingly impressed with his knowledge if not his attitude, older brother Edgar hands him a comic book ominously titles “Vampires Everywhere.” After quipping that he doesn’t like horror comics, Edgar assures him that he’ll like this one before foreshadowing the rest of the movie.
“It could save your life,” he says before he and his brother dash off to chase a group of rowdy shoppers away from the store.
Although it seems like it’s on the Boardwalk in the Lost Boys film scene, the comic book shop was actually located a few blocks away and has since moved twice to its current location. The original building, Atlantis Fantasyworld, was irreparably damaged by the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and it’s now located on Cedar Street.
The original comic book, “Vampires Everywhere!” is still enshrined in the shop, and the owner allows fans of The Lost Boys to take photos with it if they’re so inclined.
From downtown Santa Cruz, take Locust street east to Cedar Street and take a left. Atlantis Fantasyworld is located at the corner of Cedar and Union Streets.
The feeding frenzy scene in The Lost Boys
Boardwalk, Santa Cruz Beach
The “feed” that take place on the beach is one of the most gruesome Lost Boys action scenes, and it’s where we, and Michael, find out what they’re really capable of besides just tearing around on motorcycles and brooding.
After coming upon a group of local Surf Nazis – the local nuisance gang that causes mischief on the Boardwalk in the form of petty theft and minor assaults – David and his friends decide they’re famished. Unlike Brad Pitt’s character in Interview with a Vampire, these dudes are absolutely not content to feast on rats and pet dogs.
In the bloody feeding frenzy that follows, Michael realizes what he is becoming, and he’s not very happy about it. To keep his newest recruit in line, David tells him exactly what he’s in for.
“You’ll never grow old, Michael, and you’ll never die. But you must feed!”
The scene was filmed on the local beach near the Boardwalk, so take a walk over and have your own beach party in solidarity with the Surf Nazis. To get there, head to the Boardwalk and take a walk on the nearby beach.
Grandpa saves the day scene in The Lost Boys
Pogonip Open Space Preserve
To this point, Grandpa has been sort of a salty old bystander to most of the action. Although he seems to have a loving relationship with his daughter and grandsons, he’s been fairly hands off to this point, although he has to have noticed all the weirdness going on around his place when Michael is in it.
In order to slay the head vampire, David, the two sets of brothers attack the vampires in their cave, killing Marko in the process. They then barricade themselves inside grandpa’s house and await the coming vengeance. When David and the rest of the family attack the house, Edgar, Alan, Michael and Sam are ready for them, summarily dispatching Paul and Dwayne. The end fight, of course, comes down to David and Michael, and Michael prevails by using the vampire powers he’s been trying to avoid this entire time.
To everyone’s surprise, nothing happens, and the gang realizes they were wrong about the head vampire, who, of course, shows up right on cue. The boys then learn that a vampire who has been invited into a home has no weaknesses there.
Enter Grandpa, who drives his truck right though the house and impales the head vampire on a wooden fence post, which makes him explode. And that, my friends, was that. Adding a bit of levity to the scene, Grandpa is completely unimpressed by the whole fiasco, viewing the vampires as another inconvenient circumstance such as tourist crowds, litter or declining property values.
“One thing about living in Santa Carla I never could stomach… all the **** vampires,” he grumped, presumably while trying to figure out just how he was going to explain everything to the insurance company.
While both and interior and exterior version of grandpa’s house was built on the Warner Brothers lot, most of the exterior shots used the old Pogonip Clubhouse, once a fancy golf resort. The clubhouse is still standing in the Pogonip Open Space Preserve, located at 333 Golf Club Drive in Santa Cruz. From downtown Santa Cruz, take River Street to Golf Club Drive and turn left.
The Lost Boys was a first in many respects – it was the beginning of an on- and off-screen friendship between Corey Feldman and Corey Haim, and it changed the way the public viewed vampire films and vampires in general. Instead of stuffy old men in floaty cloaks and dusty coffins, this new type of vampire was sexy, modern and accessible to the younger movie-going public.
Not only was it a huge success when it opened, the film has since become a cult classic, with many people considering the character played by Sutherland as the quintessential cool, self-possessed by ultimately violent killing machine a vampire should be.
Not only did the movie spawn two straight-to-DVD sequels, but it’s also been the subject of much-heralded reunions, with actors coming together after 30 years to celebrate the film and its success in changing the culture around vampire movies. Sadly, Corey Haim was unable to attend, having passed away in 2010.