Urban Legend (88 Films) Blu-ray Review


Scream (1996) brought us a whole new wave of slasher films, the best of which is Urban Legend, a film that is very flawed, but is well made and created with a love for the genre. The characters may not be the best out there, but the filmmaking on display is impressive.

Studio:
88 Films
Release Date: September 25th, 1998 (theatrical)
                           March 29th, 2021 (blu-ray)
Run Time: 1 hour 39 minutes 38 seconds
Region Code: B (locked)
Picture: 1080p (2.35:1 aspect ratio)
Sound: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 
               English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Subtitles: English
Slipcover: Yes (Hard Box)
Digital Copy: No
Starring: Jared Leto, Alicia Witt, Tara Reid, Rebecca Gayheart, Joshua Jackson, and Loretta Divine
Written by Silvio Horta
Directed by Jamie Blanks
Rating: R (horror violence/gore, language and sexual content)

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Poster

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What's It About?

Urban Legend tells the story of a group of pretty college students at a remote New England university. The focus of the story is Natalie, a beautiful, academically gifted student at the fictional Pendleton University. Natalie and her friends are all involved in the Folklore class being taught by Professor Wexler. Wexler regales his class with urban legends, which include Pendleton's own urban legend about a Psych professor who murdered six students at Stanley Hall 25 years ago. Natalie is the first one to suspect there's a killer on campus, especially after she has ties to all of the victims. No one, including her friends, Wexler, Dean Adams, and security guard, of course, believes her until it's too late. Now she finds that she and her friends are part of the killer's ultimate urban legend.
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Film Review

Like what happened with Friday the 13th all the way back in 1980, Scream brought on a new wave of slasher films. While not as numerous or good as the wave in the early 80’s, we still got a number of films that are fondly remembered today: I Know What You Did Last Summer and its sequel, Cherry Falls, Dead Man’s Curve, and even sequels to waining franchises like Child’s Play (Bride of Chucky) and Halloween (Halloween H20) all were released around this time. One film that gets a little less love than the others is 1998’s Urban Legend.

A killer stalks a college campus and kills its students using urban legends. That is how quick it is to summarize this film. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, many good films can be summed up in just as many words. The problem that I have with Urban Legend is that it is just so bland. The characters are unlikeable, the writing is boring and lazy, and the acting, while good at times, is mostly bad as well. The only thing that saves this film from being totally forgettable is the direction from Jamie Blanks. This is Blanks' first film and you would never guess just by watching the film. Here is a director who has a confidence many, more experienced directors lack. Blanks adds a lot of effort to this snoozer of a script and makes the film better than it would have been with another director. Blanks uses the camera to give us shots we have never seen before and to make the kills and the scenes leading up to the kills kind of exciting. If only he was given a better script and actors who gave a damn. Ultimately, Urban Legend is not a film that you are going to be remembering any time soon.

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Video/Audio

Sony has given 88 Films an aged, but very good transfer. Detail is nice throughout. Colors are really good and skin tones look accurate. Grain is very light but present nonetheless. This does appear to be the same transfer Sony used for their blu-ray thirteen years as well as the Scream Factory blu-ray from a few years ago. 

The included lossless 5.1 is loud and very active. Dialogue sounds great and the surrounds are put to get use during the kill scenes. Christopher Young's outstanding score has never sounded better.

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Extras/Packaging

So, the big new extra, in fact the only new disc based extra, is the brand new commentary from the guys over at The Hysteria Continues which is just so good. 

The rest of the extras are ported over from the Scream Factory release from a few years ago. This is good as that edition is pretty much the ultimate word on URBAN LEGEND. We have two informative commentary tracks that are both fun listens. Jamie Blanks is definitely the leader of both tracks and his attitude towards the film and the commentary tracks is infectious. 

Moving over to disc 2, we have a two-and-a-half-hour documentary that is broken up into eight parts. This massive doc covers everything that can be covered when it comes to URBAN LEGEND. We begin with the idea for the film, then travel to Australia to get out director, then off to Canada to shoot the film, and then end with the film's overall legacy and why it has stuck around for so long. This is a fascinating journey that shows us how everyone who worked on the film loved being there, which shows in the final product. We also get some extended interviews which are fun. The only thing that I didn't like about the presentation of this doc is that there is no "Play All" option. This is by no means a deal-breaker, but it does mean that you can't put the doc on in the background without having to get the remote every so often to choose the next part. 

Following the massive doc, we get about an hour of "fly on the wall" behind the scenes footage which is always a welcome addition. A deleted scene, some TV Spots (which aren't bundled together with the film's theatrical trailer, which is kind of odd to me), and a gag reel finish off the second disc. 

Disc 1

    Audio Commentary with director Jamie Blanks, producer Michael McDonnell, and assistant Edgar
    Pablos
    Audio Commentary with director Jamie Blanks, writer Silvio Horta, and actor Michael Rosenbaum
    Audio Commentary with The Hysteria Continues - The Slasher Loving Podcast
    Archive Original Trailer (2m 24s, HD, 1.78:1)

Disc 2

    Urban Legacy
        The Story Behind Urban Legend (9m 37s, HD, 1.78:1)
        Assembling the Team (17m 44s, HD, 1.78:1)
        A Cast of Legends (18m 44s, HD, 1.78:1)
        There's Someone in the Back Seat (15m 42s, HD, 1.78:1)
        Stories from the Set (28m 39s, HD, 1.78:1)
        Campus Carnage (23m 30s, HD, 1.78:1)
        A Legendary Composer (16m 29s, HD, 1.78:1)
        A Lasting Legacy (17m 1s, HD, 1.78:1)
        Extended Interviews (39m 44s, HD, 1.78:1)
        Extended Interviews Part II (33m 46s, HD, 1.78:1)

    Behind the Scenes Footage
        Part I (17m, SD, 1.78:1)
        Part II (16m 20s, SD, 1.78:1)
        Part III (20m 40s, SD, 1.78:1)

    Archival Making of Featurette (10m 9s, SD, 1.33:1)
    Deleted Scene (2m 40s, SD, 2.40:1)
    TV Spots (1m 36s, SD, 1.33:1)
    Gag Reel (2m 14s, SD, 2.40:1, 4x3)

The blu-ray, which is part of the URBAN LEGEND TRILOGY from 88 Films, comes inside of a normal 14mm non-eco 2-disc blu-ray case. The front cover features the film's original theatrical poster which I really like. There is no reversible artwork, but there is some inner artwork. The artwork on disc 1 is the same theatrical poster as the front cover while the artwork on disc 2 is from the artwork on the outer hard box of the whole set. The menus are clean and very minimal.

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Overall

While I think that URBAN LEGEND is just an ok slasher film, I do think that this blu-ray release is fantastic. You get three outstanding commentary tracks, a massive retrospective documentary, and a handful of other features that any fan will want to take in. I do think that film is worth checking out, but temper your expectations.

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Extras/Menus

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Film

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Packaging


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