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|Index||414 reviews in total|
33 out of 43 people found the following review useful:
Stylish addition to the teen-horror cycle, 25 February 2005
Author: Libretio from Co. Durham, UK
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1
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).
15 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
Derivative addition to the Scream cycle, with a good solution to the mystery., 4 December 2003
Author: Jonathon Dabell (firstname.lastname@example.org) from Todmorden, England
Yet another film to capitalise on the hunger for cynical, humorous
movies with whodunnit asides in the late '90s (started by Wes Craven's
Scream), Urban Legend is a fairly entertaining but wholly derivative
of the genre. The "murderer-at-large-on-a-college-campus" formula was
popular during the original period of slasher movies in the early '80s
(movies like Pieces and Happy Birthday To Me spring to mind). This update
more polished, more logical and generally more watchable.
Violent murders begin to take place a college in North America. Many of the murders are based on urban legends (popular spook-stories bandied about by word-of-mouth). First to go is a young girl driving her car through a rainswept night. An axeman leaps up from the back seat and chops her to pieces, in a terrific opening sequence which will have you checking the back seat of your car for the next month or two. From then on, it's generally a downhill ride as more and more of the college staff and students are picked off by a hooded killer. A kid goes for a pee in the woods and is hanged for his trouble; a teenged DJ is hacked apart in her studio; the college principle is run down by a car; the resident wise-ass has an unhealthy variety of toxic products poured down his throat. You get the idea, I'm sure.
Many films of this type are awful Where Urban Legend remains tolerable lies in its all-round competence. The scary moments are quite well filmed and are genuinely nerve-jangling at times. The mystery, though contrived, manages to keep you guessing as the finger of suspicion falls upon virtually every character at some point. I must admit that the killer's identity is so well disguised that it caught me out (even though I usually figure out whodunnit in films of this type). Urban Legend is no classic, nor is it particularly fresh, but it does what it does decently enough. It certainly beats the hell out of the excrutiating low-budget exploitation items from the early '80s upon which it is based.
30 out of 50 people found the following review useful:
Better than I expected, 13 September 2003
Author: fabfemfatale from Calgary, Canada
I am so not into scary movies. The twists and turns of the story line were edge of the seat watchable. The ending was the best. I recommend this to intelligent movie goers. The murderer is not who you expected it be. As most thrillers, go. Why give up who the "bad guy" really is? The first true scary movie for me was Halloween when I was 13 years old. This one is no Halloween, but it was able to make me jump at the right times. We all know about those Urban Legends, but do we really believe them? Enjoy this movie, don't pick it apart.
13 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
Not Bad, but too predictable..., 5 October 1998
Author: Gislef from Iowa City, IA
Unfortunately, Urban Legend suffers from a rather disjointed plot, and the fact that as a pseudo-mystery, they've eliminated most of the suspects by the end of the movie, so you pretty much know who is responsible. The murderer displays all the qualities of a more supernatural killer like Jason or Michael Myers, such as superhuman strength and the ability to be everywhere the plot requires him to be (like being across campus within minutes of each murder). Signposting some of the urban legends would have been helpful (there's a urban legend about a DJ being killed on the air and people thinking it was a hoax???). The cast is likable enough, but only Loretta Devine really stands out. The movie could as easily have been called "Horror Movie Cliche" as "Urban Legend" (or was that subtitle spoken for by Scream?). There are a few cute in-jokes (yes, one of the actresses was in a Noxema commercial). It's generally an entertaining way to waste a couple of hours if you're a horror-slasher fan.
19 out of 32 people found the following review useful:
I Like It!, 10 May 2001
Author: famousgir1 from London/England
Urban Legend is a great movie with a good twist at the end. It's different from all the other horror-genre movies around. The only thing that Urban Legend has in common with them is the fact that they are all not scary but still very good. Jamie Blanks is a great director who puts everything right in this movie and the cast especially Jared Leto, Alicia Witt and Rebecca Gayheart are all great. I give this movie a 10/10
6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
i loooovvve this movie!!, 28 September 2005
Author: SherryandGiggles from Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
omg, this movie is one of my faves... a lot of people think it is just
another slasher flick, but i think the plot is really intriguing and
keeps you guessing until the end. i had no idea who the killer was, and
once i found out, i was totally surprised! although it is a bit scary
at times, "urban legend" can also be humorous. i love the soundtrack
too, and the cast is awesome. Alicia Witt was excellent as the heroine
of the story, and Rebbecca gayheart gave a stunning performance as the
psycho killer Brenda. she really knows how to act CRAZY (even if her
motives are a little odd)!! and Jared leto is hot (i just had to add
that). so if you love murder, humor, romance, and legends, "urban
legend" is the movie for you. trust me, i've seen it about 500 times to
date (and i first watched it last summer!).
and FYI, it's on abc family for the "13 nights of Halloween" thing next month! i'll be watching it... will you??
3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
I really like it, 7 January 2010
Author: mrkil from Iceland
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Slashers are never "good". OK maybe the first Scream but slashers are
never "a good movie". But there is a good slasher and bad slashers.
Prom Night, a very bad slasher. The sequel to this, a very bad slasher.
But I really like this one. I absolutely love the plot. The deaths are
awesome I still jump up in my seat when the principal is killed. I
didn't expect Brenda as killer when I saw it first. The plot works. The
death works. I didn't know who the killer was. I LIKED IT.
As a movie it not that great I mean. Critics are not gonna like it. Movie fans are not gonna like it. Unless you watch with it in mind that it is a slasher. As a slasher Urban Legend is perfect.
22 out of 41 people found the following review useful:
If you liked the Scream and Last Summer movies make sure you don't miss this atmospheric thriller, 15 December 2003
Author: timefreezer7 from Greece
A local college is being terrorized by brutal murders. The mysterious killer
targets a certain group of friends who initially do not realize, or even
ignore, the upcoming danger and fall prey to his clutches. They leave
their rooms unlocked or go alone in the forest at night. The killer's main
victim seems to be Natalie (Alicia Witt) a very typical gal, at least on the
surface. The killer stalks her and harasses her continuously and Natalie not
only tries to convince everyone about the danger in vain, but has to deal
with melanic issues from her past. People soon start dropping like flies and
Natalie and her friends are helpless before they all meet their fate. Many
years before the incidents the college was rumored to have been plagued by
an insane professor who flipped and invaded the students' dormitory killing
many fraternity members at one single night. One of the few survivors is
proven to be a sociopath weird janitor who is not willing to share his
traumatic memories in order to help solving the mystery of this new killing
spree. The murderer is much more than a freaked loser copycat who simply
wants to rekindle the horror on the 25th anniversary of the alleged
massacre, but has an obscure agenda.
Maybe all these plot elements sound stereotyped and nothing special. The premise of a horror movie localized in a college is as old as it gets and has been done to death (no pun intended). Nevertheless there is a special originality in this film. The killer's modus operandi follows a unique pattern of an urban legend methodology. You probably all know what an urban legend is. Folklore stories which are always laying on the verge of reality and myth. Usually they are scary crimes and everyone seems to know or have heard or have read a similar crime although no one seems to have actually enlisted specific names. Stories like these are usually typical frightening tales. One example is the poisoned candy children are frequently treated on Halloween by insane people. Another example is the seemingly normal father who mysteriously brutally slaughtered his entire family over one night, preferably by axe, and disappeared never to be heard of again. The screenwriter plays cleverly with all the cliches and the fears of the dark. The urban legends provide fertile ground for some genuinely original and shocking death scenes.
Urban Legend, despite an intriguing premise, cannot hide its origin. It is a typical 90's horror film mixed with a whodunit subplot, recognizable TV faces and plenty of gore. The film succeeds in being a memorable and above average effort but if you are set to watch it you are bound to find all the stupid overused themes a teeny bopper provides (without nudity though: that is the determinant between 80's and 90's). There are plot holes the size of a volcano crater. For example the police officers are so dim witted that they regard a clearly obvious strangulation which would probably have left distinct bruises on the victim's neck as a suicide. Moreover why, oh why don't they send officers during the climactic tragic events after all those murders. I can accept the fact that the phone lines were dead but couldn't someone just go and ask for help? When they do arrive it is far too late. The cast was also over-crowded and it was obvious that the protagonists were nothing more than screen fillers. It is too bad since their acting skills, which seemed promising, were withheld. For example Jared Leto and Michael Rosenbaum are Paul and Parker respectively. Although the film starts off interestingly with equal screen time, Natalie soon wins the absolute focus and their roles are so small that they end up being extras. Things are even worse for Brenda (Rebecca Gayheart) and Sasha (Tara Reid) who also had shrunken roles and are wandering pretty faces waiting in line to be sliced and diced. Although the suspects are many, the final revelation of the killer is weak, the motives even weaker and of course we have the inevitable cat-lived nature of the killer-who-refuses-to-die escorted by the predictable cliffhanger epilogue with the "TO BE SEQUELED" sign.
An extra detrimental element is the presence of Alicia Witt in an especially important role. Her acting is not awful but it is definitely misguided and fails. Witt is way too calm to convince as a realistic character. After a certain point it is clear that her psychopath stalker has not only killed her friends, but is after her, and she doesn't even show a trace of panic. She DOES try of course to warn the bonehead authorities and she does a little research on the urban legends. The bad thing is that even in the gruesome finale she doesn't seem to fear the maniac even a little bit and even worse she is not the willing-to-fight heroine that Sidney Prescott in Scream was. Now I don't want to be misunderstood, I wasn't looking for Jamie Lee Curtis's overblown vocal pipes but she could have more human reactions, especially after the deaths of her friends. It's as though Natalie had read the victim list and knew that she had a contractual commitment to survive until the end. The only one of the main characters with some substance is Joshua Jackson as Damon. This guy is a derivative from other horror films and strikes as a cardboard cutout: a prankster who teases his friends and is slightly horny. At least Damon has a certain and sensible persona and Jackson is adequate. The funniest aspect of the film is that the cameos are far more successful and memorable than the leads!! Danielle Harris in a short role is the quite trendy Gothic young diva who is the incarnation of the Lust sin, the aged John Neville is the strict and by the rules Dean of the University and Brad Dourif gives an excellent performance in a role which I won't reveal. The best of them is Robert Englund as the clever and a bit creepy Professor who teaches folklore and introduces his students to the urban legends. Professor Wexler seems to be the chief suspect for this horrific situation and although there are sporadic hints throughout the film which point to other directions, Englund virtually dominates the screen even with his absence!!! Of course I won't omit Loretta Devine as Reese the guardian of the University who is very funny and adds the necessary comic relief. Who could have thought? A woman and indeed a black one as the cop/protector. It is another attempt to break a few cliches. Well done casting directors.
Apart from some good performances Urban Legend has many other assets. The opening sequence alone was enough to keep me hooked on as I realized I would watch a great film. The rainy frames and the professional shooting with the distant take angles is enough to pose the threatening tone and warn us about what is to follow. The introductory scene is a stand alone masterpiece. The killer here doesn't have a costume but hides under a winter jacket with a cowl and this gives a realistic touch and a difficulty in pinpointing the culprit since many people have the same type of jacket. The best part of Urban Legend is the setting and the cinematography. The university buildings are bulky and old enough to support a medieval atmosphere which excites our imagination. Further, these baroque aged buildings give a much more scary climate and ensure that no matter how much they run, the protagonists will never get away since the corridors are so long that probably no one is going to hear them scream. But the greatest virtue is the photography which was dreary and gave a sense of a documentary style. The best example to describe the stigma the director tried to pull off are the library scenes. The leads are in a situation reminiscent of the Name of the Rose (lacking the religious undertones of course!!!) and are trapped in an infernal game they cannot escape. The whole point of view of the movie is clearly cinematic and the imaging techniques are much supportive. As I aforementioned the death scenes are fascinating and catapult the adrenaline to heights. Although the character development is bare you feel sorry for the victims (well, OK, for most of them). One surprise follows another as the body count increases.
It comes as a great disappointment therefore that after a chilling 90 minutes period, the last 30 minutes go downhill. The action is very weak, the suspense retreats and we are left with overacting, inept and predictable "plot twists," inadequate explanations and a rather disappointing climax . I mean how could anyone not wonder why the maniac wouldn't just kill Natalie and get over with this revenging mission instead of doing this wild carnage. So be warned: the last half hour is extremely disappointing. Thus, if you are a horror fan who wants an entertaining thriller Urban Legend is a good shot. Despite some letdowns Urban Legend is yet another landmark in 90's horror genre.
URBAN LEGEND - 8 / 10
6 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Entertaining, sometimes clever, style over substance horror film., 21 January 2009
Author: Lucien Lessard from Canada
When New England College, Natalie (Alicia Witt) finds out that her
former best friend (Natasha Gregson Wagner) was murdered not far from
an gas station. Now she finds herself in danger, the mysterious killer
who killed his best friend is now stalking her friends and murdering
them. An ambitious college reporter student (Jared Leto) tries to help
her to find the killer but Natalie isn't what she seems to be as well.
Since she has an very dark secret, she kept hidden from her friends at
College. But her former friend's murder is based on a urban legend,
which this killer is re-creating from these eerie tales.
Directed by Jamie Blanks (Valentine) made an entertaining horror film with some clever touches of suspense and black comedy. This movie was certainly made in the wake of "Scream". Which many film critics felt it was an bad rip-off but i felt it is one of the better horror pictures of the late 1990's. This features has better than expected cast, including:Rebecca Gayheart, Joshua Jackson, Tara Reid, Michael Rosenbaum, Loretta Devine, John Neville, Julian Richings and Robert Englund. Director Blanks and Screenwriter:Silvio Horta (Best known as being the developer for TV's "Ugly Betty) are certainly having fun with their character, the suspense, dark humour and plenty of amusing in-jokes as well. Despite bad reviews by movie critics, it was an surprise box office hit. When it was released in the fall of 1998, i remember seeing it over ten years ago and i still enjoy it.
DVD has an sharp anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1) transfer (Also in Pan & Scan) and an good Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. DVD has an amusing commentary track by Blanks, Horta and Rosenbaum. DVD also has Behind the Scream with commentary by the filmmakers, a deleted scene, the original theatrical trailer and a collector's booklet. If "Urban Legend" has an flaw, it is during the last 20 minutes of the picture. The movie goes way over the top with an disappointing conclusion. But "Urban Legend" is one of those movies, you could tell that the cast & crew has a great time making this. This is worth seeing. Brad Dourif appears uncredited. Followed by two loose sequels. Super 35. (****/*****).
7 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Let's get our slasher on!, 28 July 2002
Author: Kristine (email@example.com) from Chicago, Illinois
Ah our precious 1990's, so many great things came out of this memorable
decade, including a streak of teen slasher films. Let's face it, after
the mega success of Scream which opened the doors once again after
Friday the 13th, Halloween, and Nightmare on Elm Street, we needed a
new classic. So naturally all the screen writers who were a bit scared
to present their ideas on the table, thanks to Kevin Williamson, the
clever writer of Scream and Dawson's Creek. After that, every teen
slasher film was released: the Scream sequels, I Know What You Did Last
Summer, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, etc. But we didn't stop
at that, we were now presented with Urban Legend.
The film begins on a dark and stormy night as college student Michelle Mancini realizes she is near empty while driving in her car. There's someone in the back seat as Michelle drives, a figure in a dark coat with a fur trim around the hood sits up in the back seat and, with a swift blow from its axe, decapitates Michelle. The same night, on campus, a group of friends listens to Parker Riley tell an old story about one of the campus halls, Stanley Hall. According to the story, in 1973, an abnormal psychology teacher went crazy and killed all the students living in an on-campus residence hall. Paul, a school paper journalist thinks the story is bogus. Still, the story sticks in their minds, especially for Natalie, and Brenda. The next day, the front page of the campus newspaper has an article about Michelle Mancini's murder written by Paul but the papers are quickly confiscated by school officials. Later that night after going into a secluded area of woods to talk, Natalie reveals to Damon that she knew Michelle, but they hadn't spoken in years. Damon, playing on Natalie's vulnerability, tries to make a move on her but she rejects him. Upset, Damon goes into the woods to urinate but is attacked by the killer. He then is hung from a tree in a noose with the rope attached to the bumper of his car. The next day, no one believes Natalie's story due to Damon's penchant for pranks and tricks. Realizing both Damon's death and Michelle's murder closely resemble famous urban legends, Natalie goes to the library to read up on urban legends. Not realizing the terror has just begun to scare her and her friends even more.
Basically, Urban Legend didn't stand out against it's competitors, it has every cliché in the book. Not to mention no memorable actors that had the same chemistry as the cast of Scream. It's over written at times and has every predictable moment: the friends don't believe in a ghost story, a couple people get killed off but everyone thinks it's a prank/fake death, a classic chase scene with a big breasted girl in a skimpy costume, the creepy janitor, the smart girl that no one believes is all of a sudden right about all the murders and of course a mega twist ending that no one will ever see coming! OK, Urban Legend isn't a horrible movie, while it has all these predictable moments and clichés, it's still actually fun to watch and a good part of the memory of good teen slasher films that came out of the 1990's.
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