If it had any other title, Lost Boys 2: The Tribe wouldn't provoke any outrage. But if it had any other title, would anybody give it a second glance? I harbored a ray of hope, but it doesn't take very long to realize that Lost Boys 2: The Tribe was always destined for the direct to video garbage heap.

The 1987 original, photographed by the superbly talented Michael Chapman, was super stylish and jammed with juicy performances, cynical wisecracks, and post-modern tweaks to cinematic vampire legends. The best idea was placing fanged lords of the night in a sun-soaked California coastal town populated by aging hippies and freaks, not to mention a boardwalk, rollercoaster, and great, crashing surf.

As a budget sequel, LB2 has to make do with less attractive, less flattering video imagery and the rockier Canadian coastline standing in for "Santa Carla" * (actually, Santa Cruz, California). The script by Hans Rodionoff makes some half-hearted attempts to tie in the original (antlers and motorcycles, anyone?), but is bereft of any new twists of its own. Director P. J. Pesce makes certain to include the obligatory amount of gore required to justify the so-called "uncut" version, with notable attention to ripped throats and spilled intestines, along with bared body parts displayed by lovelies such as Moneca Delain. LB2 has precisely two good moments -- one in the opening scene, provided by Tom Savini -- stranded within 94 minutes of running time.



The lone returning cast member -- not counting Corey Haim, who gets a mercy cameo in the post-credits tag -- is Corey Feldman as a fully grown-up yet none-the-wiser Edgar Frog, elevated here to the role of sole Vampire Hunter in town. He snaps off his one-liners as though they were funny, which plagues the movie with odd moments of brief silence during which, I suppose, the audience is expected to be laughing instead of staring at the screen in dismay.

The other tenuous connection to the original is provided by Angus Sutherland, the younger half-brother of Kiefer, who plays head vamp Shane Powers. Angus reminds me of John Murray, Bill Murray's younger brother, as he gamely attempted to channel his brother's comic genius in 1985's woeful Moving Violations. At times like this, you just shake your head in sympathy and hope the poor soul held on to his day job.

As it happens, I've seen and really liked the leads, Tad Hilgenbrink and Autumn Reeser, in other projects. Hilgenbrink did heroic comic duty in the impossible-to-save American Pie Presents: Band Camp, while Reeser was a snarky-tongued, adorably insecure bitch in the dying days of The O.C. I'm still convinced that she's destined for better things; LB2 isn't one of them, though Reeser ably delivers the only genuinely funny line in the movie (which sounds familiar for some reason) and it's her annoyed / spoiled / stuck-up Cali shtick that makes her scenes bearable.

It's an indicator of LB2's general incompetence that Reeser's character is reduced to silence for a long, key stretch, which really tried my patience. If you've read this far, you may have noticed that I haven't mentioned the plot -- which seems to be an afterthought anyway -- but, for the record, Hilgenbrink and Reeser play brother and sister Chris and Nicole Emerson, somehow related to the original's Emerson family, who have moved to a small coastal town to make a fresh start after Chris was booted off the surfing circuit for beating up another surfer. The rest of the story follows the basic narrative outline of the original, yada yada yada, the end.

Lost Boys 2: The Tribe is available on DVD and Blu-ray, in both R-rated and "uncut" editions. Also included is a five-minute mini-feature on the stunt choreography (inspired by extreme sports), "Edgar Frog's Guide to Coming Back Alive" (in which Feldman talks about the weapons used by his character as clips are played), two alternate endings (really, alternate versions of Corey Haim's forgettable tag scene), and several music videos.

* UPDATE: Name of fictional town in The Lost Boys corrected. Thanks to YouFaceTheTick.