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Posted at 11:51 AM ET, 03/10/2010

Paying tribute to Corey Haim

By Jen Chaney

Corey Haim, as we remember him, in his late '80s heydey. (AP)
-- Gallery: Corey Haim: 1971 - 2010
-- Monica Hesse on 'The Two Coreys' (2007)

We don't want to remember Corey Haim, who died Wednesday morning at the age of 38 after an apparent accidental overdose, as the drug-addled reality star of recent years. We want to remember Haim as the actor he was when he first started out in Hollywood in the early '80s, a young man capable of projecting a vulnerability, exuberance and sweetness that made him instantly likable onscreen.

In fact, that's what he did in his two best movies: 1986's "Lucas" and, of course, 1987's rock-vampire epic, "The Lost Boys."

"Lucas" is one of those movies we always linger on while channel surfing, and Haim is the reason why. As an exceptionally tiny and goofy kid with a crush on the pretty, new girl in school (Kerri Green) and a difficult home life that he keeps hidden from everyone but Winona Ryder (in her film debut here), he was incredibly empathetic and, above all, innocent. The whole movie, actually, was notable for its innocence; it was the kind of teen flick you could watch with your parents without getting embarrassed. And when Haim's Lucas, determined to join the high school football team, jogs out onto that field and eventually gets the nerdy lights knocked out of him, anyone watching -- you, your mom, your dad -- couldn't help but gasp. The last thing a person wanted during that movie was to see sweet little Corey Haim get hurt.

But Haim's Lucas persevered. Despite being told he was too little, too geeky, too much of an outcast, he stayed on target, defying the odds to win the hearts -- not only of the prettiest girl in school and the star of the football team (Charlie Sheen), but ours, too.

In "The Lost Boys," Haim was a little older, but he still retained that sense of naivete and exuberance. As Sam, he read comic books in bed while kissing his mommy (Dianne Wiest) good night. He sang oldies in the bathtub and loved his dog, Nanook. For reasons we never fully understood, he kept a poster of Rob Lowe on his bedroom wall. And above all else, he loved his older brother Mike (Jason Patric), so much that he was willing to team up with the far weirder and more worldly Frog brothers -- that's Jamison Newlander and, yes, Corey Feldman -- to claim him from the vampire-clutches of Kiefer Sutherland and co.

Would "Lost Boys" have worked without Haim? With INXS on the soundtrack and Sutherland and Patric looking all creepy-hot, probably. But the then-16-year-old actor definitely brought a sense of comic-panic to the part that, again, made us like him, especially when he (spoiler alert!) managed to triumph over the blood suckers in the end.

This is one movie that neither of us is ashamed to admit we both wore out after repeated watchings on VHS.

Of course, things changed, as they do for many child stars, when he grew up and out of that cute-and-innocent kid category. He tried to make an adult acting career work. But it never really took off.

Along with partner-in-cinema-crime Corey Feldman, he recorded some of the worst cheese ever committed to celluloid. Take "Dream a Little Dream," for instance, in which Haim and Feldman play two guys who -- freaky deaky! -- switch bodies thanks to a science experiment gone wrong. Though the worst thing about the flick wasn't even the ludicrous plot; it was their foppish, hipster-wannabe get-ups and Feldman's uncanny mimicry of Michael Jackson.

Haim was never able to escape from his status as one-half of the Coreys. And, apparently, he also wasn't able to extricate himself from a life of frequent drug use.

Which is why on the sad day of his death, we prefer to forget all about "License to Drive," or "The Two Coreys," or any of the many straight-to-DVD flicks Haim did later in life. Instead we'll remember him as our "Lucas" and our "Lost Boy," a teen determined to win the girl's heart and save his big brother, a kid still innocent and untouched by Hollywood's dark side.

-- Liz and Jen

By Jen Chaney  | March 10, 2010; 11:51 AM ET
Categories:  Celebrities  
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RIP Corey Haim.

Posted by: jezebel3 | March 10, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I have to say I'm surprised to see you guys slam "License To Drive" like that. Billy Ocean song + Heather Graham as "Mercedes" (who drives a VW) * The Two Coreys = 80's GOLD.

Posted by: Bra8en | March 10, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Caught the last 20 minutes of "Murphy's Romance" last weekend and thought again how wonderful Corey Haim was in that movie. And now he is gone. Sigh.

Posted by: Beach_Girl | March 10, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

How sad. RIP.

Posted by: Californian11 | March 10, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

RIP Corey.

He had the talent. He just didn't have the grounding and support he needed to transition to adult roles and survive Hollywood. Too young gone.

Posted by: epjd | March 10, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Rest in peace Corey. I'll miss your interpretation in Lost Boys. I'll miss you.

Posted by: MarcosBrasilia | March 10, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

In Dream a Little Dream, which I have seen WAY too many times, Haim never switches bodies. He does, however, use a cane because of a car accident. Feldman switches bodies with Jason Robards.

I also loved License to Drive. And am quite sad about Corey Haim.

Posted by: BurgBarbL | March 10, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

I just read the full post on Corey Haim, and noted he died after "several days of flu-like symptoms". Wasn't this how Brittany Murphy's death was described as well? Was there something similar with Heath Ledger?

A regular non-celeb I know also died after several days of flu-like symptoms and just not feeling well.

Posted by: Californian11 | March 10, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

I am also very surprised at the slam of "License to Drive" which is one CH's best movies. With that said I think Jen should actually watch "Dream a Little Dream" before slamming the plot! Because there was never a science experiment and the Coreys did not switch bodies. It was actually "Coleman Ettinger " played by Jason Robards and "Bobby Keller" played by Corey Feldman who switched bodies due to the result of a meditation exercise.

Posted by: dlstottlemire | March 10, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

License to Drive was a quality flick! RIP Corey Haim.

Posted by: mjwies11 | March 10, 2010 9:08 PM | Report abuse

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