Corey Haim – A Tribute
RIP Corey Haim 23 December 1971 – 10 March 2010
Why is it that we don’t ever hear about the successful child stars? Or is it that we just forget where they came from as they feed the wallets of Hollywood big wigs? After all, Leonardo Di Caprio is a child star graduate – remember him as the last gasp of breath ‘Growing Pains’ took when it became clear that it was just too creepy to pimp a 22-year old Kirk Cameron out to teenage girls? It’s easy to forget that Kirsten Dunst and Jodie Foster are former child stars too, since their records are unblemished.
But gossip columns love a good cliché and relentlessly cover the life of some poor schmuck that feeds the stereotype of child actors meeting with tragic ends, very often by their own hand. It’s not that difficult to understand how the stresses of worldwide stardom can have a detrimental effect on anyone, let alone a child. Somehow the normal rules of childhood no longer apply once you have a best selling film under your belt at age 6, as Drew Barrymore colourfully demonstrated throughout the 1980s.
Losing Corey Haim is sad, and call me cynical if you will, I have a terrible feeling that there are people employed by world wide media conglomerates whose sole job it is to write obituaries for ‘at risk’ personalities whilst they’re still alive so that they can be uploaded whilst the body is still warm and the news has filtered out of the Emergency room. Stars, however far they may have fallen, are front page news once they’re not around to stand up for themselves, not that they even need to, because once rigamortis sets in, suddenly everyone has a sycophantic Tweet and a personal anecdote to propel their own stardom further. Since The Haimster’s demise, I’ve noticed Todd Bridges getting a few more column inches. I’m just saying, is all…
Corey Haim’s death is heartbreaking, as heartbreaking as the loss of any 38-year old is. The difference is that his death and the painful lead up to it, was public. Even more demoralising is the timing. Had it happened only 2 or 3 days earlier, he would have made it to the most prominent position on the ‘Oscars Montage of Death’, usurping Patrick Swayze from the top spot. As they say in Hollywood, you’re only as good as your last film and there was no chance Haim’s family would be collecting a posthumous Oscar for his role in 2009’s American Sunset.
What is saddest of all is that Corey just didn’t leave on a high note. Plagued by drug addiction since allegedly being introduced to marijuana on filmsets around the time his career was taking off, Haim’s momentum of stardom gradually petered out as the 80s wrapped up. How ironic that as the decade the VCR emerged and came to an end, Haim went all post-modern on us and started to make films that went straight-to-video.The Lost Boys was the film that brought together Coreys Feldman and Haim. The concept of the ‘Two Coreys’ was a symbiotic, synergistic and, some would say, co-enabling relationship. This was ‘bromance’ decades before we’d even coined the term. This formula told us that 2 x Corey ≠ Corey2, equalled some incredible megaforce that made us all think that they made scores of films together. To be honest though, they really only made three of note and merit (The Lost Boys, Licence to Drive and Dream a Little Dream) with a handful of others that never made it to mainstream consciousness, plus some cameos in the likes of ‘Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star’ where they obviously take a dig at themselves. There was, of course, the (ahem) reality show, ‘The Two Coreys’ which only lasted two seasons because fellow recovering addict Feldman allegedly couldn’t handle Haim’s drug use and brought it to an end in 2008.
Whilst watching a tribute to Haim on The Daily 10, Catt Sandler described him as “THE Rob Pattinson of HIS day”. Clearly an attempt by a girl too young to know what she was talking about to give today’s teens and tweens some sort of context of the magnitude of Haim’s stardom. After all, had Haim died in the 80s, he would have been revered the same way River Phoenix is. Who is to say that Phoenix, who died of a recreational drug overdose publicly on the front steps of The Viper Room in the early 90s, wouldn’t have gone down the same road as Haim?
But let us focus on the good times. I don’t want to keep harping on about it, but ‘The Lost Boys’ was a defining film for Gen X. Sure, kids today have ‘Twilight’, but ‘The Lost Boys’ was marketed to teenage boys and girls differently. For the blokes, with the exception of the uber-hot Jamie Gertz, it was pretty much the appeal of a teen-focused action/horror flick on motorbikes. But for the young girls…where does one start? Not since the 1983 spunkfest that was ‘The Outsiders’ had heterosexual teenage girls had such a smorgasbord of hot young Hollywood hunks to feast upon.
A much maligned silent star of the film was Haim’s wardrobe. Whilst we all idolised him onscreen as Sam Emerson, the upbeat, wise-cracking younger brother of Jason Patric’s moody Michael, I just know that if a guy had rocked up to a party wearing anything like Corey’s knee-length, festively-printed shirts in the late 80s he would have been the subject of ridicule that would no doubt have scarred him for life. Somehow though, the Haimster had the charisma to get away with it, the male equivalent of being able to wear a Hessian sack and still look amazing.
Vampire films have traditionally been allegories for repressed sexuality and adolescents struggling with the trials of puberty. Whilst ‘The Lost Boys’ doesn’t dismiss this entirely, it addresses other relevant and timeless issues such as peer pressure, assimilation and non-conformist ideas of the concept of ‘family’.
The Lost Boys was very much a film of its time and by that I mean, you had to be there, you had to see it when it was relevant. If you were to watch it for the first time today, it might look as dated as a 60s Hammer Horror vampire film did back in 1987. It captured bad hair (when is the flat-top going to make a revival?), bad fashion, bad sax solos and just a hint of watered down Goth-pop culture and somehow turned it into a late 80s zeitgeist, forever remembered by children and teens of the 80s. We can only hope that as time passes, the image of the bloated, incoherent former child star Corey Haim fades away and the magnetic, self assured on-screen embodiment of Sam Emerson endures.
Thanks for the memories, Corey!