Urban Legend – USA, 1998

‘It happened to someone who knows someone you know… You’re Next.’

Urban Legend is a 1998 American slasher horror feature film directed by Jamie Blanks (Long Weekend; Storm WarningValentine) from a screenplay by Silvio Horta (Horror Movie: The Movie short). The movie stars Jared Leto, Alicia Witt, Rebecca Gayheart, Tara Reid, Michael Rosenbaum, Robert Englund, Loretta Devine, John Neville, Danielle Harris, and Brad Dourif.

Two sequels followed: Urban Legends: Final Cut, which was released theatrically in 2000, and the direct-to-video entry Urban Legends: Bloody Mary, in 2005.

Plot:

Natalie is an attractive, academically-gifted student at the Pendleton University. She and her friends are studying in the Folklore class being taught by Professor Wexler (Robert Englund). 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 twenty-five years previously.

Natalie (Alicia Witt) is the first one to suspect there’s a killer on campus, especially after she has ties to all of the victims. No one, including her friends, Wexler, Dean Adams and security guard, of course, believe her until it’s too late. Now she finds that she and her friends are part of the killer’s ultimate urban legend…

On November 20, 2018, Scream Factory released Urban Legend as a Collector’s Edition Blu-ray.

Buy Blu-ray: Amazon.com

Disc One:

  • Audio commentary with director Jamie Blanks, producer Michael McDonnell, and assistant Edgar Pablos, moderated by author Peter M. Bracke (new)
  • Audio commentary with director Jamie Blanks, writer Silvio Horta, and actor Michael Rosenbaum
  • Theatrical trailer

Disc Two:

  • Urban Legacy – 147-minute, 8-part documentary with director Jamie Blanks, writer Silvio Horta, executive producers Brad Luff and Nick Osborne, producers Neal Moritz, Gina Matthews, and Michael McDonnell, Phoenix Pictures CEO Mike Medavoy, production designer Charles Breen, director of fhotography James Chressanthis, editor Jay Cassidy, composer Christopher Young, actors Alicia Witt, Michael Rosenbaum, Natasha Gregson Wagner, Robert Englund, Loretta Devine, Rebecca Gayheart, Tara Reid, and Danielle Harris, assistant Edgar Pablos, author Peter M. Bracke, and more (new)
  • Extended interviews from Urban Legacy (new)
  • Behind-the-scenes footage (new)
  • Making-of featurette
  • Deleted scene
  • Gag reel
  • TV spots

Reviews:

“This one is a surprise in waiting, entertaining from the jump with a couple onscreen personalities that you’ll remember long after watching. It isn’t a flawless production, or even close to it, for that matter, but Urban Legend is one of those rare pics that adopted a less than favorable reputation, and it didn’t deserve such treatment.” Matt Molgaard, Addicted to Horror Movies

“Urban legends draw their appeal from their exclusiveness, from the idea that they exist in a sort of cultural vacuum, ignored by traditional electronic media but thriving as a sort of post-technological American folklore. But as used in Urban Legend, this shared folklore is nothing more than the basis for a slew of bloody, unimaginative set-pieces.” Nathan Rabin, The AV Club

“The movie contains all the necessary formula characters and even provides the creepy, “could he be the killer?” decoy, and surprises audiences with the revelation of who the killer is, and provides the character with a decent enough motivation that ties the entire movie together in a neat, tidy, 99 minute package.” Martin Liebman, Blu-ray.com

“Director Jamie Banks also subscribes to that obnoxious late nineties horror device where literally everything is a jump scare followed by a shock of the soundtrack. It’s bad enough we have to believe everyone sneaks up on one another and yanks one another’s shoulder to garner attention, but the shock scares come in fast, and become irritating very quickly. Felix Vasquez, Cinema Crazed

“It was very amusing, especially if you can get into dumb college students in dumb situations getting killed one by one. This one was a little knowing in a Scream type of way, not so much because the characters were referencing horror movies, but because the point of view of the movie is very aware that you are watching a horror movie that in no way relates to reality.” Cinema de Merde

“Many of the slasher films of the 90s could be described as “fun, but forgettable” and Urban Legend certainly falls into that category. The movie has some clever murders, some funny moments, and a nice look. Only the silly appearance of the killer holds the film back.” Mike Long, DVD Sleuth

“There is an energy about Blanks’ approach, enthusing his actors into forgetting they’re not the first to have their throats opened on campus. Alicia Witt especially, as the redhead who witnesses her friends being diced, is convincing. Jared Leto, as the budding student reporter who attempts to keep up, is equally sympathetic.” Angus Wolfe Murray, Eye for Film

“While it’s not “scary” per se, the film does have its fun moments, and features some killer horror cameos […] Urban Legend deserves some credit for the way it tries to subvert certain horror movie clichés despite committing a few contrived sins of its own, and is adequately suited to the nostalgic ephemera of 90s teen slasher popcorn cinema.” Horror Honeys

“Director Jamie Blanks, in his first film, gives the material far more than it deserves […] The only fault in Blanks’s direction is his offering up too many hyped up false jumps by trying to rattle audiences with the soundtrack. All of the novelty death set-pieces are well directed – there is a very suspenseful piece with Tara Reid hanging onto a balcony edge while the killer hacks at her fingertips with an axe.” Richard Scheib, Moria

“What this all boils down to is that Urban Legend is an entertaining teen horror movie very much in the same style as Scream. It does have some good moments especially the opening murder but the good idea of a serial killer who murders in the style of urban legends seems to go by the wayside as the deaths become more and more generic.” Andy Webb, The Movie Scene

Urban Legend is a teen-age moviegoer’s dream. It has familiar young television stars, familiar older stars with cult followings (Robert Englund as the aforementioned professor, John Neville as the dean), an edgy sense of humor, a tricky plot and characters too genre-savvy for their own good.” Anita Gates, The New York Times, September 25, 1998

“The film is… fine. Especially if you don’t mind seeing tons of characters you’ve seen before (the straight final girl, the crazy, manic-depressive, chain-smoking goth, the jokester, the editor who will do anything to get a scoop, etc.) and does a decent job of red herrings and keeping you guessing as to who the killer is. Urban Legend is quite Hollywood formulaic…” Michele “Izzy” Galgana, Screen Anarchy

Cast and characters:

  • 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

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