NEW YORK – Joel Schumacher, the eclectic and brazen filmmaker who dressed New York department store windows before shepherding the Brat Pack to the big screen in “St. Elmo's Fire” and steering the Batman franchise into its most baroque territory in “Batman Forever” and “Batman & Robin,” has died. He was 80.
A representative for Schumacher said the filmmaker died Monday in New York after a yearlong battle with cancer.
A native New Yorker, Schumacher was first a sensation in the fashion world after attending Parsons School of Design and decorating Henri Bendel's windows. His entry to film came first as a costume designer. Schumacher dressed a pair of Woody Allen movies in the 1970s: “Interiors” and “Sleeper.” He also penned the screenplays to a pair of musicals: “The Wiz" and “Sparkle."
As a director, he established himself as a filmmaker of great flair, if not often good reviews, in a string of mainstream films in the ‘80s and ’90s. To the frequent frustration of critics but the delight of audiences, Schumacher favored entertainment over tastefulness — including those infamous sensual Batman and Robin suits with visible nipples — and he did so proudly.
“A movie that's in a movie theater that runs at 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 and there's no one in the audience when that movie runs — what's the point?" Schumacher once told Charlie Rose.
The success of his first hit, “St. Elmo's Fire," with Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, Emilio Estevez and Ally Sheedy not only helped make a name for the Brat Pack but made Schumacher in-demand in Hollywood. He followed it up with 1987's “The Lost Boys," with Jason Patric, Corey Haim, Kiefer Sutherland and Corey Feldman. A vampire horror comedy, it gave a darker, contemporary view of the perpetual adolescence of “Peter Pan.”
Schumacher was sometimes regretful that he played a role in hoisting fame on his young stars and “the two Coreys.” Before dying in 2010, Haim struggled with drug addiction and said he was sexually assaulted in the film industry. Feldman on Monday recounted on Twitter trying cocaine during “The Lost Boys” as a 16-year-old. When Schumacher found out, Feldman said, Schumacher temporarily fired him.
“He tried to prevent my descent,” said Feldman, who continued to struggle with drugs.