The Vampire Classic Shot In The Murder Capital Of The World

By Shanna Mathews-Mendez | Published

You cannot be a child of the ’80s and not have watched The Lost Boys. It was a thrilling, darkly comedic, horror film that shaped Gen Xers for life. It was also, interestingly enough, filmed in what was once the murder capital of the world, Santa Cruz. 

How Santa Cruz Became The Murder Capital Of THe World

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In 1970, Santa Cruz was just a sleepy college town, home to UC Santa Cruz, with a pretty carnival that lit up at night right there on the beach. Then, a series of murders was perpetrated by not one, not two, but three serial killers. By the time The Lost Boys was filmed these events were history. 

But they certainly left a mark on the town as a dark and mysterious place where anything could happen. 

The murders began with John Linley Frazier, who killed an eye surgeon, his wife, his secretary, and his two sons, shooting them all and tossing their bodies in their swimming pool. He did it, he says, to save the environment. Frazier was barely arrested before a man named Herbert Mullin began killing people because the voice in his head told him the murder would prevent a coming earthquake. 

With these deaths, the district attorney, Anthony Chang, mumbled in front of witnesses at the murder scene, “This must be Murdersville, USA.” The next day, several papers announced that Chang had called Santa Cruz the murder capital of the world. 

A Murder Was On The Loose When The Lost Boys Began Filming

By the time The Lost Boys was filmed, 14 years later, the name had stuck.

Yet, perhaps the worst of them all, Edmund Kemper, still had not been caught. Kemper was a seemingly kind, gentle man who stood six feet 9 inches tall. Kemper had all the makings of a sociopath from childhood and was in a state-run mental facility before he even came of age. 

When he was released, he carefully plotted and executed the murders of several young women in Santa Cruz, violating their dead bodies and hiding them in the Santa Cruz mountains. He was finally caught in 1973 when he called the police to confess to bludgeoning his own mother to death. 

The Perfect Setting For The Vamps Of The Lost Boys

Of course, the month spent filming The Lost Boys in Santa Cruz in 1987 was far from dangerous; the city was now a Mecca for hippies and homeless people who coexisted alongside serious students and vacationers riding the Ferris wheel. 

Jason Patric, who plays big brother to Corey Haim’s Sam, recounts being persuaded by director Joel Schumacher to portray Michael, a young man entering adulthood amidst the lure of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. The vampires in the film, particularly the darkly sexy Star, played by Jamie Gertz, stand as analogies for the scary side of adulthood. 

Your choices have consequences. 

The Familiar Cast

In The Lost Boys, we follow Michael as he navigates this at-times-terrifying challenge while also laughing along with young Sam’s hapless attempts to save his brother. Sam is helped by two kookie locals, one of whom is played by Corey Feldman. The sweet mother of the “lost boys” is played by the fabulous Dianne Weist. 

The Lost Boys Still Holds Up

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If you have not seen this film, it is well worth watching, especially now that you know Santa Cruz was once the murder capital of the world. Rotten Tomatoes gives The Lost Boys a 77 percent and IMDb gives it 7.2/10. It has become a cult classic of sorts, and this cult is a good one to join.