Nerdling Tales takes a mostly spoiler free look at cult classics mostly overlooked by the public, movies that failed so hard they won, and the “what in the hell were they thinking” flicks. Join her as she reminisces about what makes these movies so interesting and full of hopeful sequel potential, and yet the general movie going population tends to forget their existence.
Since it is back to school time, I felt like revisiting a 90’s slasher movie classic where someone is using urban legends to terrorize a college campus.
Released: September 25, 1998
Director: Jamie Blanks
Writer: Silvio Horta
Stars: Alicia Witt, Jared Leto, Rebecca Gayheart, Michael Rosenbaum, Loretta Devine, Joshua Jackson, Tara Reid, John Neville, Julian Richings, Robert Englund
Natalie Simon (Witt) and her friends just started a Folklore course taught by the strange Professor Wexler (Englund). The focus of the first lesson is urban legends and he concludes the lecture with Pendleton University’s own legend of a psych professor who murdered several of his students. The timing of the lecture is strange when students start mysteriously dying. Natalie thinks it is a serial killer using various urban legends to stalk and kill the victims, but no one believes her until it is too late. Can Natalie and the school journalist Paul Gardner (Leto) stop the killer before they are next?
If you want a basic slasher flick with no real surprises and the worst killer costume to entertain you over the long weekend, Urban Legend is for you. Complete with every stereotypical character and the action culminating at a frat party going on in the middle of a major rain storm. (It would be a great film to play the Slasher Movie Drinking Game with) To be honest, this movie is a giant rip off of Scream in its attempts to be meta and it is nowhere near as smart as the film makers hoped it would be. In the beginning, the inevitable doomed first girl is listening to Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” which the lyrics “turn around” are sung after every line as the killer waits for her in the back seat of her car. And that is one of the more clever parts. Still better than the more recognized, Hook Man centered I Know What You Did Last Summer.
It is amusing watching all the stories we used to tell each other at slumber parties, lock ins, and camping trips come to life in serial killer form. As kids, we used to dare each other to eat Pop Rocks and drink a coke to see who would be brave enough to face the possibility of our intestines exploding (all of us always chickened out). Or we would play Bloody Mary at various slumber parties (again, we always chickened out at the last moment). Some of those old stories stick with you. Even now, I still check the back seat and underneath my car before getting in. You just never know.
There are several references to the well-known actors of that time’s projects that made them famous that got a little obnoxious for me. A Freddie Kruger doll can be spotted in Professor Wexler’s class (because any of us watching would have needed reminding who he is), and a few good natured jabs about Dawson’s Creek and Noxzema commercials feel like the director is elbowing you in the ribs saying “Get it? Because that’s what they are known for.”
Despite it panning by critics, Urban Legend garnered enough love with movie goers to get two sequels. Urban Legends: Final Cut starring a young Eva Mendes, Jennifer Morrison, and the struggling to find work, Joey Lawrence (whoa) arrived in theaters a couple years later to even worse reviews and less love. The third film, Urban Legends: Bloody Mary went direct to DVD and abandoned the whole slasher genre in favor of a supernatural one.
Overall, this very 90’s slasher flick will be sure to entertain you and have you thinking about all those stories you and your friends used to tell each other. Just remember to be thankful you didn’t turn on the lights when you heard that weird noise.
Tell me what did you think of Urban Legend? What was your favorite story growing up? Did you ever try to mix Pop Rocks and coke? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.