Urban Legend

September 25th, 1998


more trailers Urban Legend

Still of Alicia Witt in Urban LegendRebecca Gayheart co-stars as BrendaStill of Joshua Jackson in Urban LegendNatalie & BrendaStill of Natasha Gregson Wagner in Urban LegendStill of Jared Leto and Alicia Witt in Urban Legend

A college coed suspects that murders around her campus are connected to Urban Legends.

Release Year: 1998

Rating: 5.2/10 (26,015 voted)

Critic's Score: 35/100

Director: Jamie Blanks

Stars: Jared Leto, Alicia Witt, Rebecca Gayheart

After a bravura opening sequence featuring Natasha Gregson Wagner getting slaughtered by the killer with an ax hiding in the backseat of her car, Urban Legend tells the story of a group of pretty college students at a remote New England university. The focus of the story is Natalie, a beautiful, academically-gifted student at the fictional Pendleton University. Natalie and her friends are all involved in the Folklore class being taught by Professor Wexler. Wexler regales his class with urban legends, which include Pendleton's own urban legend about a Psych professor who murdered six students at Stanley Hall 25 years ago. Natalie is the first one to suspect there's a killer on campus, especially after she has ties to all of the victims. First, it's her high school friend, a guy she's in the woods with at night, her roommate... No one, including her friends, Wexler, Dean Adams and security guard...

Jared Leto - Paul Gardener
Alicia Witt - Natalie Simon
Rebecca Gayheart - Brenda Bates
Michael Rosenbaum - Parker Riley
Loretta Devine - Reese Wilson
Joshua Jackson - Damon Brooks
Tara Reid - Sasha Thomas
John Neville - Dean Adams
Julian Richings - Weird Janitor
Robert Englund - Professor William Wexler
Danielle Harris - Tosh Guaneri
Natasha Gregson Wagner - Michelle Mancini
Gord Martineau - David McAree
Kay Hawtrey - Library Attendant
Angela Vint - Bitchy Girl

Taglines: What You Don't Believe Can Kill You.

Release Date: 25 September 1998

Filming Locations: Etobicoke Olympium, Etobicoke, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Box Office Details

Budget: $14,000,000(estimated)

Opening Weekend: $10,515,444 (USA) (27 September 1998) (2257 Screens)

Gross: $72,527,595 (Worldwide)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

In one scene they show the front page of a newspaper, and the writer of that story is credited to "John MacNeil". John MacNeil was the assistant art director on this film.

Continuity: The thickness of the Encyclopedia of Urban Legends changes while Natalie is holding it.

Brenda: [stabbing Natalie with the scalpel] Is this the kidney? Or is that the Liver? Oh, well. First organ I see, I'm just gonna grab it!
[Brenda digs the scalpel in deeper, but Reese bursts through the door with her gun aimed at Brenda]
Reese Wilson: Drop the weapon!
Brenda: [turns around and sees Reese] Oh great! Rent-a-cop to the rescue.
Reese Wilson: Move over the the window, now, you loony psycho bitch!

User Review

Stylish addition to the teen-horror cycle

Rating: 6/10


Aspect ratio: 2.39:1 (Super 35)

Sound formats: Dolby Digital / SDDS

A serial killer descends on a New Hampshire college where he/she kills a number of students in the manner of various urban legends.

History has a habit of repeating itself. In the early 1980's, a series of low budget 'slasher' movies emerged in the wake of HALLOWEEN (1978) and "Friday the 13th" (1980), most of which were condemned as substandard imitators by critics and horror fans alike. The same thing happened in 1996, following the success of Wes Craven's SCREAM, a smug reworking of genre clichés which allowed 'sophisticated' multiplex audiences to indulge an attitude of superiority over those 'crappy' old horror flicks and the 'unsophisticated' viewers who once supported them. The subsequent wave of teenage horror pics were flashy, sexy and ramped to the max, and - true to form - virtually all of them were (ho hum) trashed by critics and horror fans alike. And yet, most of them made a profit, perhaps BECAUSE they were flashier and sexier than those earlier pictures, and because they were designed for a wider demographic than 'mere' horror fans.

Jamie Blanks' URBAN LEGEND is a case in point: Most reviews ran the gamut from harsh dismissal to faint praise, yet the movie is a visual treat, as creepy and atmospheric as any of the films which inspired it. Furthermore, Silvio Horta's unassuming screenplay confounds expectations with its solid narrative arc, recognizable characters and dynamic set-pieces, not to mention a climactic 'reveal' which offers a robust motive for the killer's devastating onslaught. There are a few embarrassing lapses along the way (such as the murder which takes place in full view of heroine Alicia Witt, which she ignores because she thinks it's a couple having sex!), and Horta can't resist a handful of cop-out contrivances (eg. the killer slashes the wrists of a girl known for her depressive tendencies, causing authorities to dismiss her death as suicide, though a routine forensic examination would have revealed the cuts were administered post mortem, AFTER she was strangled to death!), but these occasional blunders are redeemed by the movie's fast-paced editing, neo-Gothic visual scheme and clever plot developments. Blanks orchestrates proceedings with consummate skill, but he refuses to indulge the kind of transgressive gore that once distinguished this downmarket subgenre (where's Tom Savini when you really need him?!).

As expected, the talented young cast - including Jared Leto, Rebecca Gayheart and Tara Reid - is pleasingly photogenic, and there are lengthy appearances by TV favorites Michael Rosenbaum ("Smallville") and Joshua Jackson (watch out for the terrific "Dawson's Creek" gag!). Major co-stars include Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger himself!), John Neville and an uncredited Brad Dourif, who features heavily in a powerful opening sequence where Blanks and Horta pull a major switcheroo on the audience (I'll say no more). Loretta Devine is amusing as the campus security guard who views herself as a modern-day Coffy/Pam Grier (her fantasy is rudely curtailed by a climactic encounter with the rampaging maniac), and there's a brief appearance by Danielle Harris, the former child star of HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS (1988) and HALLOWEEN 5 (1989), playing an adult character FAR removed from the angelic poppet of those earlier pictures! Beautiful, fairy-tale score by Christopher Young. Followed by the largely unrelated URBAN LEGENDS: FINAL CUT (2000).