Posted in Other Media

Unofficial Horror Movie A–Z: Urban Legend

Urban Legend

Year: 1998
Runtime: 1h 39m
Rated: R

Director: Jamie Blanks

Writer: Silvio Horta

Stars: Jared Leto, Alicia Witt, Rebecca Gayheart

Double Feature Fodder:
Recommendations instead:
Scream (1996)
Candyman (1992)
“Mr. Dark’s Carnival” by Glen Hirshberg (novella)
Just a Story podcast

Initial: A late 90s horror film that fell through the cracks for me.

Production Notes: I knew the name Alicia Witt was familiar, but I couldn’t think from where. She was Alia in David Lynch’s Dune (1984)!

What Did I Think:
I has a good soundtrack . . .

Listen, Scream (1996) has a lot to answer for. It kicked off a whole new wave of plucky young people facing off against slashers and movie monsters, but with an extra meta twist. Urban Legend isn’t the first movie to tackle urban legend killers, but it probably is the first to make a big deal of the legends that (maybe) everyone knows. The problem is that urban legends are a broad category: everything from baby-sitter killers to Pop Rocks and Coke. Urban Legend tries to fit as many into the movie as possible, it seems, without worrying too much how they fit into the story. Or about how accurately the urban legends are shown. (Who does Bloody Mary in front of an abandoned building and not a mirror?!)

Like Scream, Urban Legend has a non-supernatural mystery to be solved and, of course, it’s one of the plucky young people. With over twenty years of meta-ing the meta horror movies, the film lacks tension and scares. The performances were uneven: Witt’s character was wooden while Gayheart and Tara Reid chew scenery. I did appreciate the small roles given to Robert Englund (the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise) and Brad Dourif (the Chucky franchise). It was nice to see nods to earlier, better films. And, hey, it has Jared Leto before he was insufferable.


Writer, publisher. Hobbies include reading, studying magic & illusions from a historical/theoretical perspective, and playing ultimate frisbee.

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