Sunday, September 6, 2009
Urban Legend (1998, Jamie Blanks)
Back to the late 90's, a time when horror films featured the hottest teenage actors from the hottest teenage television dramas (Dawson's Creek, Party of Five, etc). Though this whole sub-genre of horror films for teeny boppers was started by Wes Craven's Scream, I would probably say that Urban Legend is the epitome of this type of film. I wouldn't say it's the best but it has all of the components that make up this unique group of horror films. Read on to see why.
Urban Legend begins with a college girl (Natasha Gregson Wagner) stopping at a gas station to get gas. She thinks that the gas station attendant (Brad Dourif) is trying to kill her so she drives off but soon finds out he was only trying to warn her that someone was hiding in her back seat. She is swiftly decapitated and the word gets out on her college campus. Natalie (Alicia Witt), a fellow college student who is somehow involved with the murder victim, soon finds herself in the middle of a massacre when all of her friends begin to pop up dead. The strange thing though is that each one is killed in the same fashion as a different Urban Legend. Who is the killer and why are their killings based on Urban Legends?
Ok, like I said, Urban Legend isn't the best of the 90's teen horror film boom, but it has all of the ingredients that made up that sub-genre. A whodunit plot, a masked killer, cameos from actors of classic horror films and/or tongue and cheek references to older horror films and (of course) teen actors (or 20 something actors playing teens) from the popular teen TV dramas of the time. Let's go through the actors in this film one by one just so you can see how the cast pretty much made this film:
Jared Leto - every teenage girl's crush from the mid 90's for his role as Jordan Catalano from the cult teen drama My So Called Life. A relatively early movie role for Leto who went on to star in such films as Requiem for a Dream, Panic Room, Alexander and Lord of War. Also found fame and fortune singing for the band 30 Seconds to Mars.
Alicia Witt - pasty, but in a hot way, redhead from the 90's sitcom Cybill...or at least that's where I knew her from when this movie came out.
Tara Reid - star of such hit films as the American Pie trilogy, Van Wilder, Josie and the Pussycats, Cruel Intentions, who partied too hard, had a bad tummy tuck and has recently been doing Crow sequels and other DTV dreck such as Incubus and Vipers. Such a shame. She was always my favorite American Pie girl.
Joshua Jackson - no 90's teen slasher would be complete without a member from the hit teen drama Dawson's Creek. Jackson did some other memorable films (some from the same genre) such as Scream 2, Apt Pupil, Cruel Intentions and The Skulls.
Michael Rosenbaum - it wasn't until a few years after this film that I heard the name Michael Rosenbaum again - this time in the TV series Smallville as the young Lex Luthor.
Rebecca Gayheart - aka "the Noxzema girl" as I knew her (and is referenced briefly as an in-joke in the film), who was also in a few notable late 90's films such as Scream 2 and Jawbreaker. She then went on to marry "McSteamy" from Grey's Anatomy.
Robert Englund - duh
Brad Dourif - Versatile actor who plays a similar character in this film as his Oscar-nominated performance of Billy Bibbit in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Horror fans would know him as Charles Lee Ray and the voice of Chucky from the Child's Play films, as well as from roles in Critters 4, Alien Resurrection, Exorcist 3 and most recently in the Wizard of Gore remake as well as Rob Zombie's Halloween and Halloween 2.
Danielle Harris - well known to horror fans for being in 4 Halloween films, the first two (parts 4 and 5) she played Michael Myers' young niece Jamie and then as Annie Brackett in Rob Zombie's Halloween and Halloween 2. She has also played alongside such action heroes as Sylvester Stallone, Steven Seagal and Bruce Willis.
Ok, so there you have it. What a cast. The movie itself is fun and upon watching it for the 3rd time, I liked it a lot more than the first two times. I saw it shortly after it debuted on video back in the late 90's and then less than a year ago. The film has some good scares but doesn't take itself too seriously.