Urban Legend (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jamie Blanks|
|Produced by||Gina Matthews
Neal H. Moritz
|Written by||Silvio Horta|
|Music by||Christopher Young|
|Edited by||Jay Cassidy|
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
Urban Legend is a 1998 American slasher film starring Jared Leto, Alicia Witt, and Rebecca Gayheart. The film is based on the premise that a killer is using the methods of death described in certain urban legends to kill students at a New England university.
At a gas station, Michelle Mancini (Natasha Gregson Wagner) fights off an apparent attack by a stuttering attendant (Brad Dourif). However, he was actually trying to warn her of an attacker in the back seat, and as Michelle drives off, the attacker in the back seat decapitates her with an axe. On a college campus, student Parker Riley (Michael Rosenbaum) relates how one of the campus halls, Stanley Hall, had been the site of a massacre in 1973. The story is discredited by school journalist Paul Gardner (Jared Leto).
As Natalie Simon (Alicia Witt) is shaken by Michelle's death, Damon Brooks (Joshua Jackson) offers to talk and the two drive into the woods. Damon is attacked by the killer, who hangs him from a tree with the rope attached to the car. As the killer approaches Natalie, she attempts to run him over, strangling Damon to death in the process. As the killer recovers, Natalie tries to drive away but Damon's body lands on top of the car, forcing Natalie to flee and alerts security guard Reese Wilson (Loretta Devine) who doesn't believe her when they find the car and Damon's corpse missing.
Realizing Damon and Michelle's murders resemble urban legends, Natalie goes to the library to read up on urban legends. While she is away, her goth roommate Tosh (Danielle Harris), is strangled to death by the killer. Thinking her roommate is merely engaging in sexual activity, Natalie doesn't turn on the lights and goes to bed. In the morning, a shocked Natalie discovers her corpse and the words, "Aren't you glad you didn't turn on the light?" scrawled on the wall in blood.
After trying to save Brenda (Rebecca Gayheart) from a supposed attack in the swimming pool, Natalie reveals her past. One night Natalie and Michelle re-enacted an urban legend; they were driving with their headlights turned off and pursued the first driver who flashed them, causing him to run off the road and die in the crash.
Next, the school dean Adams (John Neville) is attacked in the garage and run over by his car forcing the emergency spikes into his back. Later, Reese finds Professor Wexler's (Robert Englund) office trashed and smeared in blood. Meanwhile, Paul has discovered the Stanley Hall massacre actually occurred and Wexler was the sole survivor.
At a party, Parker gets a phone call from the killer telling him that his dog is in the microwave. After opening the microwave and seeing his dead dog, he then runs to the bathroom to vomit, where the killer ties him to the toilet and forces him to chug pop rocks and bathroom chemicals (instead of soda), killing him. At the radio station, Sasha (Tara Reid) is on air. In the background, her employee is being strangled to death. Sasha screams and runs out of the room; she is still on air and everyone can hear her cries for help. Natalie runs to her aid only to see the killer murder her with an axe.
Fleeing from the station, Natalie finds Brenda and Paul and they drive off to find help. Paul convinces the girls that the killer is Wexler. When Paul stops at a gas station, Natalie and Brenda discover Wexler's dead body in the car and bolt, thinking Paul to be the killer. Natalie loses Brenda but makes her way to a road, where the school's janitor (Julian Richings) picks her up. When the janitor flashes a car with its lights out, it swerves around and pursues them. The janitor's car is forced off the road but Natalie survives and makes her way towards Stanley Hall. She hears Brenda screaming from inside. When Natalie breaks into the hall, she discovers Brenda lying on a bed. As Natalie starts crying, Brenda sits up and knocks her unconscious.
Waking up, Natalie finds herself tied to a bed and gagged. The killer comes in and unmasks herself as Brenda, who plays mind games with Natalie and taunts her about Natalie's attempt to save Brenda. She reveals that the young man Natalie and Michelle killed was Brenda's boyfriend, David Evans, and she is now exacting her revenge. She begins to cut Natalie's stomach in the fashion of the "Kidney Heist" legend, when Reese rushes in and forces Brenda to get away from Natalie. Reese frees one of Natalie's hands, however, Brenda tries to stab her with a pocket knife and the two struggle for Reese's gun. Brenda is able to shoot Reese and stops Natalie, who is able to untie the ropes on her hands and ankles all by herself, from escaping. Paul then appears and tries to trick Brenda into thinking that he would help her frame Wexler for the murders, but she doesn't buy it. As Brenda is deciding whether to shoot Paul or Natalie, the wounded Reese reaches up and shoots Brenda in the elbow with another gun. Natalie grabs the gun and shoots Brenda, who falls through a window.
Natalie and Paul drive off to get help. Suddenly, Brenda appears in the backseat and attacks them with the axe. Paul crashes on a bridge, sending Brenda through the windshield and into the river below. The film's events are then revealed to have been told as an urban legend among a different group of students at a different university, who say that Brenda's body was never found. Most of them disbelieve the tale with the exception of one young woman, who is revealed to be Brenda. She claims that the story is incorrect and begins to tell them how it really goes.
- Jared Leto as Paul Gardner
- Alicia Witt as Natalie Simon
- Rebecca Gayheart as Brenda Bates
- Michael Rosenbaum as Parker Riley
- Loretta Devine as Reese Wilson
- Joshua Jackson as Damon Brooks
- Tara Reid as Sasha Thomas
- John Neville as Dean Adams
- Julian Richings as Weird Janitor
- Robert Englund as Professor Wexler
- Danielle Harris as Tosh Guaneri
- Natasha Gregson Wagner as Michelle Mancini
- Stephanie Anne Mills as Felicia
- Brad Dourif as Michael McDonnell
Urban legends used in the film
The following urban legends are mentioned or depicted in the film:
- A caller to Sasha's radio show states that she replaced her room mate's birth control pills with baby aspirin.
- A caller to Sasha's radio show thinks about having her stomach pumped after performing oral sex on the school team.
- A couple suffering from Penis captivus call in to Sasha's radio show.
- Michelle is killed by the killer in the backseat. This legend is also referenced by various people looking at the backseat or talking about it.
- Brenda and Natalie try to conjure up Bloody Mary.
- Professor Wexler mentioned the legend of the babysitter getting phone calls from an upstairs room. This legend is later referred to by Parker moments before his death.
- Professor Wexler suggests eating Pop Rocks and drinking soda at the same time. The death of Little Mikey from this is mentioned by Brenda. The killer later re-enacts this legend on Parker, substituting soda with bathroom chemicals.
- Damon is hung from a tree while Natalie is waiting in the car below.
- Parker suggests placing spider eggs in Bubble Yum and gerbilling as the killer's next move.
- Gangs driving with their headlights turned off, pursuing the first driver to flash them and running him off the road, is mentioned by Sasha in the library. It is later revealed that Natalie and Michelle did this, killing a young man, subsequently re-enacted by the killer on Natalie and the Janitor and finally revealed as central to the killer's motive.
- Natalie finds her roommate strangled to death next to her with the note "Aren't you glad you didn't turn on the light?"
- The urban legend slasher under the car is re-enacted on Dean Adams.
- A guest at the party claims that the song "Love Rollercoaster" contains a real murder scream.
- Parker finds the remains of his dog in the microwave, resembling the "Old Lady dries wet dog in microwave" legend.
- Brenda tries to re-enact the Kidney Heist on Natalie.
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The film received predominantly negative reviews, with a rating of just 20% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 51 reviews with 10 fresh and 41 rotten, giving an average rating of 4.3/10. The website's consensus is: "Elements of Scream reappear in a vastly inferior vehicle".
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There were two soundtracks released on behalf of this film; composer Christopher Young's Original Score and The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.
- Love Rollercoaster – The Ohio Players
- Save Yourself – Stabbing Westward
- Total Eclipse of the Heart – Bonnie Tyler
- Redefine – Incubus
- Spookshow Baby – Rob Zombie
- Comin' Back – The Crystal Method
- Crop Circle – Monster Magnet
- One – Creed
- Twist – KoRn
- The End of Sugarman – Roy Ayers
- Just One Fix – Ministry
- I Know God – David Ivy
- Deaf Forever – Motörhead
- Riot – Flaw
- What Would You Do (Tha Dogg Pound song) – Ice Cube
- Call It Something – Saliva
- Condition – Ruth Ruth
- Trying Not to Think About It – Juliana Hatfield
- I Don't Want to Wait – Paula Cole
- The Only One – Junkster
- Tortured – Annette Ducharme
- Zoot Suit Riot – Cherry Poppin' Daddies