Top 10 reasons to love URBAN LEGEND
If you know me at all, then you've likely heard me rave about 1998's URBAN LEGEND, a teen slasher in the tradition of SCREAM. The premise of URBAN LEGEND is nothing short of fantastic: a serial killer is offing people based on urban legends, essentially turning them all into true stories.
Now I'd also be lying if I told you that the movie wasn't a ripoff of SCREAM, because let's face it, without SCREAM, we don't have 90% of the teen slashers that were released in the late '90s and most of the early 2000s. But that doesn't mean a fun movie can't come out of it. And that's exactly what we have with URBAN LEGEND.
I've compiled a list of the top ten reasons to love URBAN LEGEND. So even if you hate it, you've got to love it for these reasons.
Now let's begin...
1. Brad Dourif as a creepy gas station attendant!
Right from the get-go we're treated to a sweet cameo with veteran genre fave Brad Dourif, probably best known for his roles as the voice of Chucky in the CHILD'S PLAY movies, and most recently Sheriff Brackett in the Rob Zombie HALLOWEEN films. Interesting side note: if you've watched the behind-the-scenes featurette for URBAN LEGEND on the DVD, you'll catch a glimpse of Dourif rehearsing his lines for BRIDE OF CHUCKY.
Dourif plays a gas station attendant named Michael McDonnell at the beginning of the movie who doesn't exactly come across as the most trustworthy. But perhaps the girl from our next reason should have listened to him.
2. A beheading as the opening kill!
Can you remember the last time a teen slasher opened with a beheading as the first kill? Yeah, me neither. But URBAN LEGEND did it in 1998 -- and it was made even better with the little nods and foreshadowing that led up to it. For instance, Brad Dourif's character screams as the girl speeds away, "Someone's in the back seat!" And second, the girl has Bonnie Tyler's "Turn Around" blaring on the radio.
Just a quick observation with this opening victim, her name is Michelle Mancini, which is an obvious homage to CHILD'S PLAY creator Don Mancini (and she shares the scene with the voice of Chucky, himself).
3. An extremely nostalgic cast of '90s stars and a massacre back-story!
How's this for a stereotypical cast of stars from the 1990s? Tara Reid, Michael Rosenbaum, Jared Leto, Alicia Witt, Rebecca Gayheart and Joshua Jackson! All stock-piled together in a mystery slasher movie. Now, when he first seen URBAN LEGEND, it was also the first time we got a mainstream look at some of these stars. We would later see Tara Reid in the AMERICAN PIE franchise, Michael Rosenbaum in TV's SMALLVILLE, and Jared Leto in just about everything, most notably FIGHT CLUB a year later.
Also, there's a cool back-story involving a massacre at the abandoned dorm on campus. Of course, it's just an urban legend until a few of the characters piece the past together to reveal a sinister truth!
4. Robert Englund as the suspicious Abnormal Psych professor!
Not only did URBAN LEGEND gives us arguably the best teen cast, but it gave us Freddy Krueger, too! Okay, not Freddy technically, but Robert Englund as the the Pendleton University Abnormal Psych professor! And it's his angle on urban legends and their origins that sparks the killer to do the same. So needless to say, the light of suspicion never leaves the professor until his cold dead corpse pops up late in the film. Regardless, we got a dose of late '90s non-Freddy Robert Englund!
5. Danielle Harris plays a sex-craving goth chick!
The last we really remember of Danielle Harris was her playing Jamie Lloyd in HALLOWEEN 4 & 5...when she was 12 years old. Now she's all grown up and playing an internet loving, sex craving goth chick. Right up all of our alleys! She plays Tosh, main character Natalie's roommate, always arguing over who gets to use the phone line. Tosh prefers sex in the dark, which Natalie learns the hard way.
6. Joshua Jackson blares the DAWSON'S CREEK theme song!
Albeit, he cringes and immediately turns the tune off, for a brief moment in the film, Joshua Jackson's character, Damon Brooks, starts up his car and Paula Cole's "I Don't Want to Wait" blares on his car stereo. Now, for those of you who are familiar -- and if you weren't living under a rock in the '90s -- you know the song as the theme song to DAWSON'S CREEK (which Jackson played fan fave Pacey). It's a cool moment in the film that is sure to make any fan crack a smile.
The sad thing is that this comes just moments before Jackson's character Damon meets his demise via the urban legend where the girl hears scratching on the roof of the car...it's easily one of the more painful deaths in the film, and the first time we get a good look at the killer, donning the now iconic parka.
7. Three urban legends combined for one agonizing murder!
While most characters in the film got lucky by one having to suffer through the real-life events of a single legend, it was Michael Rosenbaum's character Parker who gets it the worst. Three urban legends are utilized to piece his death together. First, he gets a menacing phone call, SCREAM style, that is originating from inside the house (from Damon's room phone). Second, after Parker incorrectly guesses what legend is being used, the killer corrects him, "Wrong legend! This is the one where the old lady dries her wet dog in the microwave!" And as you can see in the second photo, it was not a pretty sight. Parker begins to lose his lunch and bolts for the bathroom.
And there, we're presented with legend number three: a spin on the old Pop Rocks and soda legend. Only this time, it's Pop Rocks and Drain-O! Ouch. RIP, Parker. You were the Randy Meeks of URBAN LEGEND (only you had a girl and didn't make it to the sequel).
8. Tara Reid viciously killed with an axe!
Only now is this a fun death scene to watch, after Tara Reid turned herself into her own joke. But back then, in 1998, she was still a young hot-body who hadn't piqued with VAN WILDER yet. Nope, she was the voluptuous radio host Sasha, who would meet her maker via battle axe -- all while final girl Natalie watches from the afar. Again, another painful death. And just look at that killer. That's menacing.
9. The killer comes back for one last scare!
This is a rule that wasn't very well known until SCREAM pointed it out to us. There's always a moment in slasher films when the supposedly dead killer comes back for one last scare. And like SCREAM, this is also true for URBAN LEGEND. Our killer, now revealed to be Rebecca Gayheart's Brenda (a female killer!), was shot and fell out of a multiple story window, presumably to her demise. Cut to the comforting drive to safety, where Alicia Witt's Natalie and Jared Leto's Paul are discussing how everything that has just happened with eventually become and urban legend, while driving to safety. That's when Brenda, presumed dead, emerges from the backseat like a flashback to the opening of the film. She attacks, fails, and is thrown through the windshield and over the side of a bridge. Now it's over...
10. It was all an urban legend -- or was it?!
Now, in a move totally out of 1986's APRIL FOOL'S DAY, we're taken to a scene where a group of college student's are sitting around telling the story! Basically revealing that everything we've just been shown was a story being told by some college dude. But wait, there's more! The camera pulls back to reveal Brenda, still very much alive and with a new appearance. She smiles and says, "Now listen up, because this is how the story really goes..."
So it did happen! And Brenda is alive to ensure the story is told correctly! What a great ending! Side note: her credit scene cameo in URBAN LEGENDS: FINAL CUT was also a sweet touch.
So there you have it, my top ten reasons why you'll love URBAN LEGEND! Do you like/love it as much as I do? Tell me why!
Thanks for reading!