It’s been a rough couple of days. Shortly after we reported the passing of beloved actor Ian Holm, we received news about the death of writer, director and producer Joel Schumacher on June 22 in New York, NY.
To say Schumacher was prolific is an understatement. His career in the entertainment business spanned the early 1970s as a costume designer and actor through his most recent work as executive producer on the 2015 miniseries Do Not Disturb: Hotel Horrors. He was production designer on one of the earliest “killer bee” movies — the aptly-named Killer Bees — in 1974. One of the first genre films Schumacher directed was The Incredible Shrinking Woman (1981), starring Lily Tomlin, which features an early gorilla suit design both created and performed by make-up and creature effects artist Rick Baker.
But among horror fans, Schumacher’s career peak came with the seminal teen-vampire classic (no sparkling allowed here!), 1987’s The Lost Boys. In an interesting bit of trivia, Lost Boys makeup artist Greg Cannom went so far as to design Head Vampire Dad Max’s (Edward Herrmann) vamped out make-up after Joel Schumacher himself. Schumacher’s penchant for finding the perfect pop and rock-based music made The Lost Boys doubly memorable for having one of the best movie soundtracks in all of horrordom.
In fact, Broadway giant Andrew Lloyd Webber was so impressed by Schumacher’s use of music in The Lost Boys that he tapped him to adapt the screenplay and direct the 2004 film adaptation of his own The Phantom of the Opera, starring Gerard Butler, Patrick Wilson and Minnie Driver.
Other big genre (or genre-adjacent) hits for Schumacher included 1990’s Flatliners, which he directed, and the screenplay for another hit musical, The Wiz (1978).
Schumacher later helmed the Batman franchise after the departure of Tim Burton; though panned by fans at their initial release, Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997) have since been embraced by a new fan base and have attained cult status as the “Gay Batman Movies.”
A true artist and film fan, Schumacher told The Hollywood Reporter in 2017:
I think I’m one of the luckiest people that ever lived. I got my dream. I got it so much bigger than even I could have dreamed it. You know, I’m just a kid whose parents died very young who was on his own and grew up behind a movie theater before TV, and I wanted to tell those stories, and look what happened.