Movies of 1987 Bracket Game: Dirty Dancing Vs. Lost Boys


Today’s match-up features two coming-of-age dramas in which the protagonist finds themselves in an unfamiliar setting and becomes involved with someone from the wrong side of the tracks.  One contains more dancing than the other, but they are both essentially stories of young people finding love and learning important life lessons.  Either that, or they were two quintessential movies from 1987 that didn’t have a natural pairing in the game, so I just smooshed them together and tried to find some kind of similarities for my intro.

Before we have the time of our lives, let’s take a look at the results of yesterday’s fairy tale match-up.


Some of these matches are more predictable than others.  I didn’t really think Moonstruck had much of a chance against a movie as beloved as The Princess Bride.  And for once, I was right.  The charms of The Princess Bride carried it into round two where it will face the winner of today’s match-up.

Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey had worked together before in the 1984 action-drama Red Dawn.  They didn’t like each other.  In fact, they resisted the idea of working together again on Dirty Dancing.  But the chemistry on their audition tape was undeniable, so they reluctantly decided to tolerate each other as best they could.

It wasn’t always easy.  There were fights.  Especially when trained dancer Swayze thought Grey wasn’t taking the dance scenes seriously enough.  But the promise of those audition tapes was realized in the final movie.  While many critics complained that Dirty Dancing was cliched, audiences were won over by Swayze and Grey’s on-screen sparks.  And also a killer soundtrack.

Dirty Dancing opened in fourth place at the box office behind the teen comedy Can’t Buy Me Love.  The next week, it did something movies rarely ever do.  It climbed up a spot to third place.  Then, the week after that, it climbed another spot to #2.  Dirty Dancing never actually topped the box office. For two weeks in a row, it trailed the buddy-cop movie Stakeout.

Appropriately for a dance movie, Dirty Dancing had legs.  It hung on to the top ten for 11 weeks, dropped to 12th place for a week and then climbed back into the top ten again!  It ended up grossing more than ten times its budget and became the 11th highest grossing movie of the year!

The Lost Boys was originally conceived as The Goonies with vampires.  Goonies director, Richard Donner, was attached to direct but eventually he moved on to direct Lethal Weapon instead.  Donner stayed on as executive producer and eventually settled on Joel Schumacher as his replacement.  Schumacher hated the script which was a retelling of Peter Pan with the immortal child as a vampire.  He agreed to direct on the condition that he could age the kids from 5th-graders to sexy teens.

What started as a G-rated kiddie flick turned into a teen horror-comedy that quickly developed a cult following.  It would be an exaggeration to say it made stars out of Jason Patric, Corey Haim, Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Feldman or Jami Gertz, but it did put them on the map.  The two Coreys went on to some measure of success and Sutherland has found his niche on TV.

Critics complained that the movie was all style and no substance, but the kids the movie was made for didn’t care.  The Lost Boys opened in second place at the box office behind the new James Bond flick, The Living Daylights which also opened that week.  As is typical with the horror genre, The Lost Boys dropped quickly from the top ten but it managed to be the 38th highest grossing movie of the year.

Despite not being a major box office hit (it underperformed  * batteries not included and a reissue of Disney’s classic Cinderella) The Lost Boys found an audience in home video.  It has inspired a series of direct-to-video sequels, a comic book mini-series and a TV show is in the works.

Oh hey!  I got it!  Let’s call this our “guilty pleasure” round!  Which movie do you feel less guilty about voting for?


Posted on January 7, 2017, in bracket game, Movies and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Well, when you put it that way, it makes it easy to vote for Lost Boys.

    Another angle on this matchup is that both soundtracks made an impact. The Dirty Dancing soundtrack was HUGE, spitting out multiple top40 hits, including one by its male star “She’s Like the Wind.” Meanwhile, The Lost Boys soundtrack was for more disaffected kids who were less enamored with the nostalgia for the 60s that was a big part of the appeal and success of Dirty Dancing. Of course, since the 60s were absolutely being shoved down our throats at the time, that album also included a cover of the Doors song “People are Strange.” It is unfortunately the bast known recording by Echo & the Bunnymen in some circles. The album opens with a great party song by INXS and Jimmy Barnes.

    The soundtrack could have done a much better job of actually collecting the dark underground sound that was pretty prevalent at the time (The Cult anyone?) instead of including veteran performers like Lou Gramm and Roger Daltry, but it did serve as a decent entry to that world for some kids who were then ready for the real stuff.

    I caught up with both of these movies on video pretty soon after they were made available for home rental. This included a screening of Dirty Dancing with my first real girlfriend and her friends. Neither of us displayed much interest in the movie and I think her friends found that annoying.


    • D’oh! How did I miss the soundtrack angle?

      That used to be a big deal in the 80’s. Do movie soundtracks still matter? Certainly not to the degree they did way back when. A hit soundtrack used to sell a lot of movie tickets. Now, I doubt anyone buys collected soundtracks.

      I saw Lost Boys on video and I don’t really remember much beyond thinking it was a decent movie. At a friend’s insistence, a bunch of us saw Dirty Dancing in the theater. He worked there and got us all in for free or we wouldn’t have been so willing. It was towards the end of the movie’s run and he wanted to see it one more time. His coworkers teased him for coming back to see it yet again. I don’t know how many times he watched it that summer, but apparently it was a lot. Going in with low expectations, I will admit I was thoroughly engaged and pleasantly surprised. Dirty Dancing won me over. I don’t want to sit down and watch it again today, but I enjoyed that first viewing when I was 16.


      • jeffthewildman

        The Lost Boys is a guilty pleasure although I prefer Near Dark as far as vampire movies from 87 go.

        Dirty Dancing is one I associate with the late 80s a lot. Mainly because it was one of my mom’s favorite movies and one of my cousin’s too. My mom had a major crush on Patrick Swayze and she watched DD a lot. So did my cousin. She also owned the soundtrack and played it a lot. DD is a chick flick in the general sense of the term. But it’s one that guys can enjoy too. Even today when I come across it on TV, I can’t help but watch it. I once sang “I’ve Had The Time Of My Life” as a duet at karaoke and was surprised when somebody didn’t get why I said “Nobody puts Baby in a corner” towards the end of the song.


        • Near Dark was one of those movies that was tough to cut. But I’m betting no one here actually saw it in a theater in 1987. I know I saw it some years later on video, so it doesn’t exactly scream “1987” to me. It is one of my favorite vampire movies and if the brackets were larger you can bet I’d have had Near Dark and Lost Boys face off.


    • My favorite Echo & the Bunnymen song is “Lips Like Sugar”, but I like a lot of their stuff.


  2. After 20 years I still link the name Joel Schumacher with disast…, I mean Batman.

    The guy made some decent movies and it’s my fault I didn’t get over it. But Batnipples was too much for me.


    • If the movie had been better, we’d have all gotten over Batnipples. But Batman and Robin was so bad you were left to ponder why anyone would have nipples sculpted on a hard rubber suit.


  3. “Hungry eyes…one look at you and I can’t disguise, I’ve got…”, well, that’s good and all, but I voted for “The Lost Boys”. Cry little sister (I’m crying too, because as of right now the boys are getting whipped)!


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