Urban LegendSeptember 25, 1998
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
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…
Professor William Wexler
Natasha Gregson Wagner
What You Don't Believe Can Kill You.
Release Date: 25 September 1998
Filming Locations: Etobicoke Olympium, Etobicoke, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: $10,515,444
(27 September 1998)
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.
The thickness of the Encyclopedia of Urban Legends changes while Natalie is holding it.
[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]
Drop the weapon!
[turns around and sees Reese]
Oh great! Rent-a-cop to the rescue.
Move over the the window, now, you loony psycho bitch!
Stylish addition to the teen-horror cycle
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).