Urban Legend

URBAN LEGEND (1998) is, to my mind, one of the most “obviously we’re making this because of the success of SCREAM” horror movies that exists. It’s another young-people-whodunit-slasher, with a similarly constituted cast of pretty young movie and TV stars, but instead of killings inspired by horror movie tropes, these ones are based on popular urban myths. At the time I think I took it as dumb but pretty enjoyable, which is also how I feel about it now, and about many non-classic slasher movies. Like most of them it benefits from age – it’s a time capsule now rather than the latest the genre has to offer, so we have different expectations for it.

Also in the tradition of SCREAM, the opening scene is the best part. Michelle (Natasha Gregson Wagner, MODERN VAMPIRES) is on the road, listening to “Sasha on WZAB, the voice of Pendleton University” while driving at night. But she’s getting tired, so she puts in a tape – “Total Eclipse of the Heart” – and sings along.

I had forgotten all about this when I reviewed THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT, which also has a memorable scene set to the Bonnie Tyler/Jim Steinman anthem. As great as that scene was, URBAN LEGEND uses it even better. First of all, I like that she’s singing badly. Realism. Second, it’s part of a perfectly timed joke. The scene is based on the urban legend of a woman being scared by a man approaching her car, not realizing he’s trying to warn her someone is hiding in the back seat. In this case she stops at a gas station, and the stuttering attendant played by Brad Dourif (SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION) pretends that her debit card didn’t work, trying to move her to safety inside, but it understandably seems to her like he’s trying to kidnap her. So she speeds off, the tape resumes playing, and a figure rises up behind her as the song is saying, “Turn around…”

An axe shatters the driver’s side window and splatters blood, and then we dissolve to the main story on Pendleton campus. Obviously we should’ve seen her head flying out the window to really put an exclamation point on it, so (whether due to those meddlers at the MPAA or not) this is already not living up to its full potential. But it’s still a great way to kick off a movie.

Meanwhile, over at the WZAB studio (which has L7 and Marilyn Manson posters on the wall) Sasha (Tara Reid, A RETURN TO SALEM’S LOT) is finishing up her show. Weirdly I think she only does one other episode during the movie, and doesn’t mention her show much. A pretty casual hobby.

But she’s part of a central group of friends who are introduced telling the legend of a massacre that happened on campus 25 years ago. Since it’s not a summer camp movie they’re not sitting around a campfire, they’re on couches in a Friends-like coffee shop. We’ve got Natalie (Alicia Witt, FOUR ROOMS), Brenda (Rebecca Gayheart, SCREAM 2) and Parker (Michael Rosenbaum, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 23, at a point when he was very Paul Rudd-y). Brenda has a crush on Paul (Jared Leto, ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE), an arrogant doofus whose entire identity is wrapped around being an intrepid investigative journalist for the campus newspaper. “That article almost got me the student Pulitzer!” he claims when somebody teases him. Also they’re sort of friends with bleach-blond prank-loving douchebag Damon (Joshua Jackson, CURSED), who shortly before his death will make a move on grieving Natalie by pretending he had a girlfriend who died of cancer.

So we got a Dawson’s Creek cast member, a well-adjusted former child star (and future star of made-for-cable Christmas romcoms), a future Oscar winner/weirdo, a future podcaster, a recent BIG LEBOWSKI cast member. Pretty good selection of young actors here. There are also some guest appearances by horror icons before that was too much of a cliche: Dourif in the opening, Robert Englund as a professor, Danielle Harris (after HALLOWEEN 45, before Rob Zombie HALLOWEEN III) as Natalie’s grouchy goth roommate Tosh. She’s funny because she frequents a chat room called “Goth 4 Goth” where she asks for “Gothic guys on campus lookin’ to hook up” and immediately gets the response “We’re on similar dark paths.” Obviously it’s the killer, though. Natalie comes home while Tosh is being killed in her bed, but averts her eyes and puts on headphones because she’s used to walking in on sex.

Because Tosh was goth and depressed her death is ruled a suicide, even though somebody wrote “AREN’T YOU GLAD YOU DIDN’T TURN ON THE LIGHT” on the wall in blood. Campus security officer Reese (Loretta Devine, LIVIN’ LARGE), whose obsession with Pam Grier probly seemed cuter at the time, is at least open to persuasion later on.

In researching this I found many people complaining that the deaths aren’t actually based on urban legends, but I don’t know why they say that. Maybe it’s because some of the more famous ones (exploding from pop rocks, Bloody Mary) are just talked about and not used for murders. The one I’m impressed that they mentioned is the popular myth that one of the screams heard in “Love Rollercoaster” by the Ohio Players was a woman being stabbed in the studio.  It’s bullshit but it’s creepy, I’m glad they got it in there even if it was instead of the THREE MEN AND A BABY ghost child, the death of Life Cereal Mikey or Alfonso Ribeiro breaking his neck doing a headspin.

Englund’s character delivers exposition in a lecture about urban legends and acts dickish/suspicious. Just like many people wear Ghostface-type boots in SCREAM, everyone on campus seems to own a parka exactly like the one the killer has been seen in.

We come to find out that Natalie has been hiding that she knew the first victim, the one whose heart was totally eclipsed. As teenagers they heard the urban legend about if you flash your headlights at someone to warn them their lights are off they might kill you as part of a gang initiation. So they got a random guy to flash his lights at them and chased him, causing him to crash and die. Do you think that might have something to do with this?

(Weirdly in the flashback the girls stay at the accident scene, fess up to what they did and are let off easy by a sympathetic justice system, but later we see a newspaper headline calling the accident an “apparent gang initiation.”)

For some reason it wasn’t until she did a season of Justified that it occurred to me, “Wow, I really like Alicia Witt.” This is probly not the best performance of her career, but she has the kind of presence that makes a fairly generic lead character work, and that makes me forgive the character’s various sins. The thing about a movie like this is that on one hand it’s certainly not one of the great horror movies, on the other hand it stays entertaining, the cast is good, it has high production value, it’s never less than competent in its craft, and none of those things are a given in the genre, especially now that low budgets are lower and medium-sized budgets are harder to come by than they were in those days.

The score is by the great Christopher Young (HELLRAISER) but it seems to me they’re making him sound too much like Marco Beltrami’s stabs in SCREAM. Oh well. Especially for this era the kills are pretty good. I like when Natalie drives her car not knowing it’s tied to a noose around Damon’s neck. And I like that after the dean (John Neville, DANGEROUS MINDS) is impaled on tire spikes in the parking garage it pans to the “severe tire damage” sign.

Since you’ve had 25 years to find out who the killer is in this, I figure it’s fair game to discuss here. Natalie gets bonked and tied up by her best friend Brenda, who reveals that she was engaged to the victim of the car accident Natalie and her friend caused as teens. Then she tries to remove Natalie’s kidney. This is a highlight of the movie because Gayheart gets to do the type of post-reveal mega-acting the killers do in the SCREAM movies, but she gets longer to do it and she gets really silly with it. I like when she for some reason calls her “Miss Thang,” and that she bothered to prepare a “visual aid” (a slide presentation). Which in those days required going to the photo developers, paying extra for slides, all that. Also she took the time to light enough candles for a romantic sex scene.

I think Brenda being behind all these urban legend themed killings probly confirms it was an act in the beginning when she was such an idiot about believing all the ones mentioned during a lecture about urban legends. Good commitment to the bit, Brenda.

There’s a fake-out ending where they think they killed her and are driving away but (every now and then I get a little bit terrified and then I see the look in your eyes) she appears in the back seat with an ax and they fight and crash and she’s ejected through the window and falls off the bridge. Good ending, brings it full circle, but also funny because they must’ve realized during editing that they abandoned Reese alone with a gunshot wound so there’s an awkward ADR line saying the paramedics are on their way. (Still weird to just drive off and leave her there, guys.)

There’s also a funny little epilogue to show that the murders might continue (because Brenda survived and re-enrolled under a new identity) and this is my favorite time capsule part just because of how goofy her new friend group look. There’s a very specific window of time when The Movies felt this was what cool kids looked like.

URBAN LEGEND is the only feature film from Cuban-American writer Silvio Horta, but he quickly got into television as a writer on The Chronicle and creator of Jake 2.0 and Ugly Betty. Unfortunately he died of apparent suicide in 2020.

Director Jamie Blanks was still in his twenties and not many years past graduating from Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne. Because he’d made a student film called SILENT NUMBER about a babysitter receiving scary phone calls, a manager tried to get him the gig of directing this hot script called SCARY MOVIE. But some other guy did it under the title SCREAM. When the time came to pitch himself for I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER, Blanks went as far as filming scenes from the script on 35mm and making a trailer. The studio had already hired Jim Gillespie, but they were impressed and promised to find Blanks something to direct, which turned out to be this.

Blanks followed URBAN LEGEND with another studio slasher, VALENTINE (2001). That wasn’t well received at the time, as the SCREAM-inspired horror cycle was starting to die off, but I think it’s a fun one. He then returned to Australia for STORM WARNING (2007) and LONG WEEKEND a.k.a. NATURE’S GRAVE (2008), both of which I liked. It’s too bad he hasn’t directed anything since then, though oddly he’s worked as a composer as recently as 2022’s GIRL AT THE WINDOW starring Radha Mitchell. I hope he’ll get back behind the camera some day.

This entry was posted on Monday, December 11th, 2023 at 7:23 am and is filed under Reviews, Horror. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

23 Responses to “Urban Legend”

  1. I tried this again a few years ago and remember not caring for it, but now I want to revisit, because there is so much on paper that make me want to like it. So, maybe will give this another whirl. I remember kind of liking part 2 a little better, which seems sacrilege, but I think it’s that it feels more Canadian and the Hart Bochner factor — sort of a TERROR TRAIN esque quality or something.

    “The thing about a movie like this is that on one hand it’s certainly not one of the great horror movies, on the other hand it stays entertaining, the cast is good, it has high production value, it’s never less than competent in its craft, and none of those things are a given in the genre, especially now that low budgets are lower and medium-sized budgets are harder to come by than they were in those days.”

    THIS!! This is what I was trying to express about THANKSGIVING, which to be clear, I think is better than this (and also is better than VALENTINE). THANKSGIVING gets at least a half a star extra just for it being a solidly ‘good’ movie that also has these other attributes (e.g., production value) and is a theatrical event in 2023. I’m pulling for it, in other words.

    I’m cautiously hopeful that we’re going to see a mini-resurgence of the slasher film that breaks out of legacy IP purgatory. Failing that, at least we’ll get THANKSGIVING 2.

  2. I never cared much for it, but I gotta give it credit for the opening scene, which is not just really well done, but also gets bonus points for its use of Brad Dourif. It’s one of those rare “We have a well known actor appear in the pre-credit scene of a horror movie” moments, where the particular actor doesn’t feel wasted at all. It’s a reverse SCREAM in the way it doesn’t try to trick us into believing we are meeting our final girl, but that we are meeting our killer.

  3. I didn’t see this one at the time, but twentysomething years later, it went down real easy. When it comes to horror, I will watch and enjoy the lowest-budgetedest trash ever made, but sometimes you just want some decent production values, you know? More than three locations. Practical precipitation. A score with an actual string section. All of that is getting harder and harder to come by these days, so this era of horror automatically has an leg up on in that department. Shit, nowadays I give a horror movie an extra half star if it can afford extras.

  4. The opening is pretty stylish, and after that it’s a slow boring slog downhill into blandness. Is this the most boring slasher look ever made? Nowadays we get a lot of sort of sculpted wood type masks like Freaky or Final Girls, or goofy masks that are really sinister like Happy Death Day or Totally Killer, but just a parka? Not even a unique looking coat? Surely there could have been something that would evoke an urban legend but they let the most important facet of the flick be as half-assed as the rest, clearly just on autopilot.

  5. Also I tend to think the idea of horror movies having no productions values…I hear this a lot but think it’s pretty overstated. Even this year we had a bunch of fairly big budget wannabe mainstreamy horrors like Demeter, Renfield, Exorcist, The Boogeyman, Haunted Mansion, The Pope’s Exorcist, had a pretty big budget. Mediums like Evil Dead Rise, Scream VI, Saw X, Cocaine Bear…plenty of production values to those. I know people talk about the apartment being empty but I think that was them trying to stick to Evil Dead formula…few people being besieged. I would have had more victims but whatareyougonnado.

    And in terms of lower budget movies we had Megan which had a special effect as a main character, slashers like Sick or The Blackening which are lower budget but atre typical cabin based horror but Sick especially is slick as hell thanks to b-movie God Hyams. Dark Harvest had production. Totally Killer has half the scenes at a carnival with 80s costumes (one of my more recent favs, the lead is pretty damn funny). It’s a Wonderful Knife is one that betrays it’s budget sometimes looking kinda like there should be crowds and they just smoosh 50 people together to make it look like something, but that director blows anyway.

    I just don’t see a big difference between the stuff we get now and the orror from the 80s that didn’t come from Spielberg or something, or the 90s either. I mean I don’t think this movie looks bigger than, say, Totally Killer. Wish they still shot on film and the modern style of cinematography is more flat which can make em seem cheaper.

  6. Muh – You’re right, there are plenty of slick studio horror movies, but only like two of those you listed were slashers. Meanwhile there are 50 no budget out in the woods slashers for each ghost or vampire movie you listed on Tubi. I just have an affection for this type of thing done up slick the way a conjuringverse would be.

  7. I hope this means we’re getting Vern’s take on this trilogy. I’m a film score nerd, so the second film is the directorial debut of John Ottman, the regular editor and composer of the films of Bryan Singer. Ottman famously passed over the super-good gig of scoring the first X-Men film so he could continue the Urban Legends franchise. It was likely that film’s underperformance that led to Ottman reuniting with Singer for X2, which features an Ottman score that would become the signature sound of the series for the following decade plus. I don’t know why this interests me!

  8. Yeah Vern I agree therte are a million of those crap slashers on Tubi…but the big difference is back in the day those no-budget thigns wouldn’t have been made at all, or if they had they’d have at best a regional release and maybe on some smakll video release and no one would ever see them. They’re basically Don’t Go in the Woods from 1981.

    Don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t throw any good slick slashers out of bed if they came my way, but I think overall we’re not doing too bad. There’s been like 5 or 6 this year with decent talent and budgets…Scream, Thanksgiving, Sick, The Blackening, Totally Killer, It’s a Wonderful Knife, and I’ma count Megan because I consider Chucky a slasher in all intents and purposes, and Megan pretty much follows those rules. That’s really not bad eating. It’s not 1981 level of slashers but pretty dang good.

    If anything I really wish we’d get more monster movies. Not giant tentpole Godzilla punching some other creature 200 million action pic, but just some good old fashioned creature features. We kinda sorta get them but they’re usually just vampires or some shit. Def oversaturated on ghost flicks for sure.

  9. Okay, so, I did take step 1: re-watch the sequel, URBAN LEGENDS: FINAL CUT. Verdict?

    Not bad! “Good” seems a bit too strong, though. Diverting? Competent? Adequate? Sure, those will work. The cast is fun — some eye candy, some hams. I like this college campus (it has the obligatory rowing team scene, so, you know it’s good). Small liberal arts colleges and private schools are good places to set these things, as they give you some definable sense of place that justifiably brings young adults together in reasonably close quarters so that things feel a little cozy and a little claustrophobic but not too much so. This film gets in a surprisingly good number of varied locations into the mix while maintaining a pretty cohesive sense of placeThere are some good kills. I like the film school conceit well enough — has kind of a summer camp type vibe, all these folks at movie camp. It feels like a pretty ridiculous notion of film school and the film industry c. 1999/2000 — a lot of the plot turns on the coveted “Hitchcock Award” that is a one-way ticket to a big Hollywood directing opportunity. Likewise, we have a main character (maybe?!) getting killed off and replaced with his identical twin who just shows up unannounced and almost immediately and just slots right into the mix of things and becomes a love interest in what feels like about 24 hours of story time.

    The killer design is … adequate. Bland but non-offensive (not sure the full body leather jacket shawl thing is the most practical stalking gear, but go on with your bad self, fencing mask guy.) There are some decent chases and scenes of peril, one of which goes on for a pretty damn long time, covers quite a bit of ground and mini-locations and works pretty well. The first few kills are pretty strong, then that aspect flags a bit. Loretta Divine is a lot of fun. Elliis is a lot of fun and shines as things move on. Anthony Anderson and Eva Mendes as side characters? You could do a lot worse.

    I stand behind my “this feels Canadian,” which is aided by the fact that it is Canadian, in my opinion. Is not bad enough or “big swings” enough to be particularly memorable but is a decent hang. Okay, I’ll try part 1 again.

    Don’t say I said this was good! I say it’s perfectly watchable if this is sort of the thing that seems up your alley.

  10. I was about 12 when Scream came out and already a horror fan, but it immediately became one of my favorites. I was excited for the new wave of studio slashers it spawned, but it felt like everyone one I watched was worse than the last. I actually saw I Know What You Did Last Summer in the theater and its creepiness was enhanced by, I swear, the theater being empty except for my friends and I and a guy in a rain slicker sitting in the back. Even with that factor and my teen crushes on Buffy and Jennifer Love Hewitt, it still felt a little disappointed after the high of Scream. Then came Scream 2, which I liked, but didn’t love. Urban Legend was the first one where I started getting bored, I only finished it because of Alicia Witt (shit, I watched all of Bongwater I loved Witt so much). Also, she is dispatched part way through, but good lord Tara Reid was at peak hotness here. The opening scene and Gayheart going bonkers were memorable, that was it for me. I thought I Still Know What You Did Last Summer was a huge step down from the first. Even for a slasher I thought the characters and plot were frustratingly stupid.

    And I was surprised to read Vern’s mostly positive review of Valentine, because that was the absolute bottom of the barrel to me. I didn’t like or care about any of the characters. The plot is yet another variation on an endlessly rehashed slasher premise with nothing of its own to stand out, although I will at least give it a point for the mask after so many killers identified by nothing but coats. All that left was a sub-par slasher movie full of attractive women that has barely any violence and no nudity, I wanted a refund on my rental. Vern has talked about movies making promises and not fulfilling them (i.e. kickboxer in Snakes on a Plane does not kick snakes), for me Denise Richard’s death scene is a similarly huge whiff. You got Denise Richards in a hot tub in a bikini. Missed opportunity one, no nudity or sexy times. We have all seen Wild Things and know the power and potential of a wet Denise Richards. Killer traps her and busts out a power drill, okay no nudity but this should deliver the gruesome goods, right? Fuck no, he pokes her once with the drill and then throws it in and electrocutes her. I think I may have let out an actual “what the fuck?” when that scene ended. And the ending “twist,” ugh. I wasn’t surprised to find out later on they apparently cut a lot of the violence due to the “political climate” (director’s words) of the time. Apparently, Denise’s skin melted off while being electrocuted, THAT would have been a fun twist to skip gruesome drill death and then get an even more gruesome electrocution.

    I haven’t watched most of these in around twenty years, so take the opinions of a bitchy teenager with a grain of salt. I am tempted to give some of them a try again. I can definitely see appreciating the production values more now that even bigger budget movies these days often feel weirdly empty. Even pre-Covid it seemed like extras and locations were being replaced by computers or nothing. Its nice to see crowd scenes and more varied settings. Pre-digital cameras, crane shots, all good shit. And I have definitely seen way more terrible movies since then, so I judge things a little less harshly. Scream 2 at least definitely deserves a re-watch, it’s probably going to look a lot better to me after the shit show that was Scream 3. The first I Know… definitely, Urban Legend maybe… but I’m not watching Valentine again unless they put out a version with the cut stuff. Although I would be way more interested in an uncut version of Cherry Falls, now THAT was a movie where I could at least see the potential hiding behind the compromised cut.

    I have heard one of the Urban Legend sequels is surprisingly decent and better than the first, anyone here have opinions? I assume that would be Final Cut, unless Bloody Mary is in the rare pantheon of DTV sequels that improve on their theatrical originals.

  11. Vern… and others.

    Let’s not forget that the killer in one of the sequels turns out to be Hart Bochner. Fucking Ellis.

    Don’t trust that dude.

  12. *spoiler alert*

    Don’t be Ellis.

  13. This will be a heavily but not exclusively VALENTINE-themed post, you’ve been warned.

    As one of my county’s top free-lance scholars in the interdisciplinary field of “Vern/VALENTINE Studies,” I would cite these two quotes from Vern’s allegedly mostly positive review of VALENTINE:

    Exhibit A – “I don’t know why but no matter how shitty they are I seem to get at least a little enjoyment out of these formulaic slashers as long as they seem professionally made and are kind of old. I probly wouldn’t have gotten much out of this at the time but now that it’s from a bygone era (pre-9-11 even) it’s mildly diverting time capsule garbage.”

    Exhibit B – “I want to write a book that gets loosely adapted into a crappy movie like this so I can always complain about it. Or a good movie I could be proud of would also be acceptable.”

    As a fan of VALENTINE, I took it as one of those fairly rare explicitly negative Vern reviews, though it wasn’t an angry screed or careless hatchet job (or pitchfork job or meat cleaver job) or anything like that.

    I have not seen BLOODY MARY. I was never super into DTV stuff in this era (though I was into Vern’s reviews of DTV stuff!), so, the combination of DTV part 3 and it being ostensibly an in name only kind of sequel pretty significantly diminished my interest. Likewise, though, I could be persuaded to check it out if someone says it’s a hidden gem.

    In any event, my Exhibit A Vern quote from above is pretty much along the lines of the other Vern quote from my prior comment in this thread (remember, half of the classes from my interdisciplinary major were from the Vern Studies major field), which is to the effect of: “A bona fide slasher film that is basically coherent, minimally in command of basic tropes, and clearly has some dollars and/or filmatic craft behind it can only be a good thing.”

    For me, the fact that VALENTINE has a nice-looking and decent upper-B-list star wattage behind it goes a long way toward making it worth watching, and same for URBAN LEGEND and to a lesser extent URBAN LEGENDS. Hey, it’s Anthony Anderson and Eva Mendes, and they are reasonably invested in their roles, and Hart Bochner is the film school Professor-adviser-mentor. Can’t be that bad? And it’s not! Is it good? Um, I’m not sure I could say that under oath in a court of law. I’m not even sure it’s “fun”in a conventional sense. This holds for both URBAN LEGENDS and VALENTINE: each has some interesting and amusing moments or elements that it contributes to slasher consciousness. In VALENTINE, it’s everything about Denise Richards in that film plus the opening scene (heartbreaking and sweet!), plus the bloody nose motif (weird and surpirsingly kind of arty or something), the fact that it anticipates MEAN GIRLS, the killer look and feel (he’s cupid and he uses a bow and arrow at one point guys — that must count for something?).

    One more bit of VALENTINE trivia. We already know that the same guy directed VALENTINE and URBAN LEGEND 1, but it may be under-appreciated that SPOILER

    Jessica Cauffiel is a supporting “ditzy blonde” character who dies in both. She’s pretty good and has that somewhat rare Goldie Hawn type energy of seeming like kind of a goofball and overt ditz but also being pretty cute. In defense of this thesis, I submit that she’s also in LEGALLY BLONDE.

    End of VALENTINE-centric material.

    The other thing worth noting with these films, is that there’s definitely a different look, feel, and rubric to the 1990s/early aughts SCREAM / “CW” slasher cyle vs. anything from the 1980s and 1970s. If you like URBAN LEGEND, it’s because it has some of the look and feel and vibe of a SCREAM. Typically, it has bona fide teen hearthrobs with mildly to highly successful TV careers going, looks shiny and has good production values (though often at the expense of actual atmosphere), is more self-conscious and deliberate about its status as ironic or partly comedic and trying to be a date movie, tends to have a more human (less undead or unkillable) slasher and, relatedly, a more prominent whodunit? element. I say all of this because that is what URBAN LEGEND and URBAN LEGENDS both aim for and what at least URBAN LEGENDS succeeds at. Not particularly scary or good, but kind of a comfort watch if you are a slasher fan of a certain age or sensibility. What I like about VALENTINE is, like THANKSGIVING, it manages to insert more of a 1980s type hammy killer concept into more of the 1990s “CW” form/packaging/context. So, kind of a nice mash-up of the two eras in my opinion.

    In summary, a big part of these films working or not is just doing the basic tropes with competence and then bonus points for some flourishes of effective comic relief or other sorts or panache (a cool mask, a good set piece, a fun bit of mythology, a decent mystery element). Some of them manage to be bona fide great films (your HALLOWEEN, ANOES), but for most of them can get pretty far with me just by checking the boxes and adding something novel or memorable (in the lowest-bar sense of memorable: Hart Bochner in URBAN LEGENDS is enough!).

    Okay, no grand thesis here. A lot of points with no main point.

  14. Oops, looks like I misgendered URBAN LEGENDS/2 as URBAN LEGEND/1 couple of times on accident. Hopefully, you can tell from context. URBAN LEGENDS/2 is the one I know I like pretty well and that has Jessica Cauffiel, Anthony Anderson, and Eva Mendes, and Hart Bochner; URBAN LEGENDS/1 is the one I distinctly remember liking less (it’s got Jared Leto — immediate ding, but probably nets to zero thanks to Robert Englund) but now resolve to try once more.

  15. I’m with aka Traumpy…the early 90s had been a bit scarce for horror, or at least quality horror that wasn’t Dr. Giggle garbage, and Scream kicked off a nice wave in slashers…but then a lot of them were just boring as fuck. I really liked I Know but let’s face it without that big chase with Gellar it ain’t all that, but had some decent kills and a cool looking killer and hooks are sweet. The sequel was dull dogshit. Liked all the Screams. I remember walking out of Valentine at some point because I just didn’t give a shit. And not even that well made. Urban Legends was bland. Halloween H20…should have been better but at least the opening was really good and nice to see Jamie back and kicking ass 90s style. Cherry Falls had a fun concept, doing anything with it would have been a good idea. Jason X is a movie that exists I guess, never saw it and prob never will.

    If anything I like the wave of horror-ish thrillers that felt liek they had one foot in slasher land. In Dreams, Ravenous, Kiss the Girls, Nightwatch and the KING…Joyride.

  16. I don’t think you all fully appreciate the opening scene. It lives rent free in my head. Think about what it would take for that to happen if this movie were real life. In order for that scene to work the following would have to have:

    1. She would have to know her friends class schedule and when she may or may not be driving her car.
    2. She would have to wait for a week when there is a high chance of rain.
    3. She would have to have kept checking for when she was low on gas for that particular ride and low enough that this is the one gas station she would have to go to
    4. She got extremely lucky that not only did the gas station she would have to go to had Brad Dourif working there but that he also has a major stutter AND he would be working there at that particular time.

    Cause if it’s anybody else at that gas station everybody would have lived.

  17. Well, none of that was really part of the plan. All she needed to know was the woman’s car and when she might be going somewhere, which seems easy enough to do. Nothign else was part of any plan at all, she was hiding in the car and eventually would have killed the driver. Raining, stopping, etc were all just things that happened to be going on at the time, and if anything could have screwed the plan up and gotten the kilelr caught before she even started. She lucked out.

  18. Blimey, just unlocked the core memory that CHERRY FALLS was actually probably the first slasher movie I ever saw! If the date on the BBC Genome page for their first showing is when I actually saw it (and I think it was) I certainly saw it before I saw, at least in full, any of the Jason/Freddy/Michael movies, or the SCREAMs for that matter, to touch on only the most obvious stuff. Seeing THE RING in the cinema earlier that year was probably the first horror film I ever saw. I was a late bloomer with the genre. Not proud of any of this, just sharing my truth.

    At some point in my post-CHERRY FALLS years (I mean the film, cheeky) I saw the second URBAN LEGEND but never saw the first all the way through. The second ends with a gag that spoils the end of this one, despite basically being (as best I can tell/remember) an otherwise mostly unrelated film.

    Is 1998 kind of late for a painted faces poster like that? Feels so to me, but I could be wrong. Looks good anyway.

  19. Well, if we’re going to nitpick, killing the driver of a moving vehicle while you’re in the vehicle has a high chance of ending your roaring rampage of revenge + killing spree of various randos before it even begins.

  20. I’m not being nitpicky because I don’t think it’s a bad opening.

    So Muh, are you saying she was just hiding in the back and because of how everything went down then she decided “Hey, I should base my killing spree around Urban Legends” despite her story about how an Urban Legend killed her bro.

  21. I hope this means you’re reviewing the sequel next!

  22. Stern, simply hiding in the back is basing it on an urban legend. There are like 3-4 “killer hiding in the back seat” legends…the movie is just being cheeky by actually doing one straight up. And realistically that wouldn’t be one to base a murder on anyway because generally the gas station guy saves the driver.

    But overall if the killer could have lanned everythign that perfectly, she shoudl have spent time on ehr other murders, only one of which is actually accurate (the roommate death) and the way they show it almsot seemed more like as a fluke accident than planning to do it when both are in the room. But the car murder is all wrong. Pop rocks and soda is really reaching it because she poured drain cleaner or wwhatever down the dude’s throat, which is generally accepted as something that’ll kill people. And then the other 3-4 murders is just killing with an axe or running over the dean…not even urban legend based.

    I mean this movie is dumb and lazy as hell but I think even the makers of the movie wouldn’t be claiming the opening was perfectly planned out by the killer. Like, there’s ridiculous, and then there’s R-IIIII-DICU-LOUS!

  23. Okay, I’ve done my penance and re-watched this. My high-level thought is that I like it better than a couple years ago, and I still prefer part 2 but mostly for non-specific vibey reasons. Part 2 just seems more strange and a bit surreal and otherworldly, and I find the characters and the particular college to have more personality.

    Here are my more granular thoughts on URBAN LEGEND 1:

    1. This one has pretty good filmatism and is particulary strong in the smashing and crashing through windows department.
    2. It *is* a very strong opener with a reliably great if brief Brad Dourif appearance.
    3. X-files deep state guy as Dean is a good choice (also a nice kill!).
    4. Alicia Witt – I like her. Good final girl casting.
    5. It’s basic, but I like the blank / shadow face fur-hooded coat look. Possibly even better than fencing mask guy from part 2. There’s a certain projective minimalism / blank slate-y-ness about it that works for me.
    6. Rebecca Gayheart is cute.
    7. You get a nice mix of different kills, though I think only the Dean kill does much for me.

    1. I am indifferent to or dislike all of the kids except Alicia Witt.
    a. As I said, Rebecca Gayheart is a hottie, but I don’t particularly like her character.
    b. Joshua Jackson – strong dislike.
    c. Michael Rosenbaum – possibly stronger dislike
    d. Leto – dislike; also, not a particularly good performance or role or something (my dislike of Leto does not stop me from acknowledging a good Leto performance, such as in THE LITTLE THINGS).
    e. Englund – I don’t care for Robert Englund in this movie. I mean, he’s fine, but I don’t enjoy his character or performance here, and that bothers me! Nothing particularly bad, just not as good actual casting as it is stunt casting for my money.
    f. Tara Reid – I probably like her the most after Witt, and I don’t dislike her — slightly above indifferent, I guess. Decent performance for her, though, I give her that.
    g. The goth chick – I know you’re not supposed to like her, but the rest of the cast is already mostly unlikeable, so, it’s just one asshole too many.

    2. Pendleton University lacks personality or charm. It feels like a lot of close-ups of buildings and set interiors and does not achieve a sense of scale or personality as a campus. A lot of random buildings lacking cohesion or personality.

    3. The film can’t seem to find a lane, tone-wise. It’s closer to camp than serious suspense, but it’s not funny or balls out enough to work for me on a campy level.

    4. The actual choice of who the killer is just doesn’t work. I simply don’t believe that person is or could be the same person we saw doing the kills. I know it’s the obvious and stupid nit to pick, but heaven help me, it just makes thing that much more dopey and ludicrous in a way I find more distracting and ugh than amusing. It is not what my mom would’ve called “a hoot.” Also, the reveal just sort of bogs things down for me, becoming a talky. why-I-done-it exposition psycho-drama momentum killer.

    5. Loretta Divine is fine, but I like her performance and character much more in 2.

    On a positive note, I resolve to try this again within a few months to gradually build up my tolerance. No pain, no gain.

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