When Kiefer Sutherland Made Vampires Cool
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because before he was saving the world as Jack Bauer, Kiefer Sutherland was coercing young innocents to the dark side of bloodsucking.
You probably know him best as badass government agent Jack Bauer on 24 – which was resurrected with big buzz on Monday for a new, limited-run season. As Jack, he’s known for thwarting terrorism and torturing bad guys. But back in 1987, a young Kiefer Sutherland was one of the bad guys, sinking his teeth into one of his first big movie roles — as a vampire.
In The Lost Boys, Sutherland — at the tender age of 20 — plays David, the rebellious and charismatic leader of a group of teen bloodsuckers. He leads his coven in their after-dark, hard-partying, evil-doings as they terrorize a small coastal town in California, sometimes on motorcycles, sometimes flying through the air.
Sleep all day. Party all night. Never grow old. Never die.
— The Lost Boys
Before rolling your eyes with that OMG-not-another-vampire-movie sigh, know this: The brat-pack film was actually quite good, and made reasonable cash at the box office. Director Joel Schumacher is credited for setting the teen vampire craze in motion, paving the way for the likes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Twilight. And Sutherland’s performance is mesmerizing — it borders on stealing the show away from budding teen idol Corey Haim.
Beyond the platinum mullet and ’80s glam, David is terrifying, creepy and seductive, his every appearance heralded by a killer soundtrack — exactly what you want a vampire to be. In one of the most memorable scenes from the film, David initiates Michael (played by Jason Patric) into the group with a bit of hazing at the gang’s goth HQ, nestled in the cave-like ruins of a luxury hotel. Michael, a newcomer to the town and eager to impress his crush (the lovely Jami Gertz), is easy prey. After offering our doe-eyed hero rice and noodles that morph into maggots and worms (thanks to a little vampire voodoo), David proffers a bottle of wine/blood.
”Drink some of this, Michael. Be one of us,” Sutherland’s David purrs. Watch and see Michael as he gets sucked in (along with the rest of us) by David’s blue-eyed stare.
It’s that same irresistible but frightening eyelock that Sutherland brings to his career-resuscitating role as perhaps the most capable agent ever to grace the halls of the Los Angeles CTU (Counter Intelligence Unit). But instead of coercing good guys to join the dark side, Sutherland’s Jack Bauer takes out the bad guys with his own brand of ends-justify-the-means vigilante justice. All with that ruthless — but undeniable — bad-boy charm.
Today, more big-screen stars are making the leap to the small screen, but when Sutherland made the move in 2001, it was still a dicey prospect. The Canadian-born actor had been one of Hollywood’s go-to bad boys throughout the ’80s and early ’90s, starring in other classics like Stand by Me and Young Guns. His career cooled in the late ’90s, but then he landed his first regular TV gig in 2001 with 24. The show was a phenomenon, and went on for eight seasons, the last wrapping up in 2010.
And now Jack’s back for 24: Live Another Day. We have no doubt that the now 47-year-old Sutherland and his death stare will lock us in for another ride.