Urban Legend: Collector's Edition - Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray / Media Reviews' started by Michael Scott, Dec 3, 2018.

  1. Michael Scott

    Michael Scott Moderator / Reviewer
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    Urban Legend: Collector's Edition


    [​IMG]
    Movie: :3.5stars:
    Video: :4stars:
    Audio: :4stars:
    Extras: :4.5stars:
    Final Score: :4stars:



    [​IMG] Movie

    If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. The 90s was a bleak bleak time for the horror genre. Well, it was a pretty weak time for most things. Grunge music, bleached hair, “goth” resurgences thanks to Hot Topic, and the horror genre was just a wasteland of painful experiences. However, there are a few decent spots in that timeline for the Generation X crown. Midst the sea of bleached hairdos (and I’m convinced the bleach affected brains based upon the films coming out) and wanna be horror stars, we had some fun flicks like I Know What You Did Last Summer, Scream and right at the cusp of the turn of the century, Urban Legend. Urban Legend was a standout mostly due to the fact that it was a decent slasher film in a time when even professional critics were lamenting the death of the horror genre (and it’s only gotten moderately better from then). However, it played fast and loose with many horror cliches, winking and nodding at the camera a good bit, while creating some truly gruesome kill scenes. It’s not a legendary or iconic film by any means, but would hold up quite well to some of the classic 80s films as a “solid” entry in the (at the time) stagnant genre.

    It’s the turn of the century (ish) and a rural high class university is beset upon by a host of murders. It all starts out with a student is murdered in the opening scene of the film in a manner that hearkens back to an old urban legend about looking in the back seat of your car before getting in. Fast forward a few days and the campus is in a tizzy about the girl being murdered. The school dean (John Neville) is quick to brush the concept that someone was murdered on campus under the rug, but soon he may not be able to do so, as another student named Damon (Joshua Jackson, complete with bleached hair) goes “missing”. The only link is a student named Natalie (Alicia Witt), who swears she saw Damon being murdered. All of Natalies friends kind of brush off her pleas for help, but one person seems to want to believe her. The snotty and annoying head of the school paper, Paul (a baby faced Jared Leto).

    One by one more students start dying, each one resembling a classic urban legend, and with time running out, and friends getting axed left and right (sometimes literally), Natalie is forced to confront the mysterious killer and put a stop to this nightmare once and for all. Yeah, Urban Legend is not anything all that special, but I have a genuine fondness for the horror flick. One one hand it has all of the bad hair styles, clothing styles, and wannabe goth motifs that made the late 90s/early 2000s such a painful part of history. Grunge music permeates sound track, and the cliches are long and weighty in number. STILL, the movie does do a fantastic job at playing fast and loose with Urban legends. Each one of the legend kills is done quite nastily (a must for a slasher), and the ending actually works REALLY well.
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    When it comes to twists, horror movies have a sort of love/hate relationship with the concept. Usually you can see who the killer is a mile away in these films, and I think that the creators recognized that limitation and just had fun with it. Instead of trying desperately to hide the identity of the killer by leaving out pertinent information and distracting us AWAY from them, the movie pushes every red herring imaginable in the path of the viewer. It seems like ANYONE could be the killer. Whether it be the creepy professor Wexler (Robert Englund himself) who survived a massacre at the same school 25 years ago, Natalie’s friends who seem to vanish at inopportune times, and even the creepy janitor (Julian Richings) are thrown straight at the viewer as if the director/writer is saying “hey, it could be anyone!”. It works surprisingly well, keeping us guessing the entire time as to whom the identity of the killer really is until the final act.

    One thing that Urban Legend lauded as it’s attraction back in the late 90s was the start studded cast, and ironically, a cast full of up and comers. We have everyone from Tara Reid, Jared Leto, Michael Rosenbaum pre Smallville, Robert Englund (Freddy himself), Julian Richings, John Neville, Brad Douriff (Chuck) and even Loretta Devine. Sadly it’s not as well acted as it could be, as it just REEKS of that generation X college narcissism. Luckily the whimsical nature of the film’s play on classic urban legends is what saves it from becoming a blight on the already weak genre, and actually a decent slasher.




    Rating:

    Rated R for horror violence/gore, language and sexual content




    Video: :4stars:
    [​IMG]
    Urban Legend was already released years ago on Blu-ray by Sony, and while I can’t find any announcement about a new transfer (so likely Scream is using the same source master as the Sony release), but even so, there have been some mild improvements done by Scream Factory for this disc. The colors seem better saturated, and the contrast boosting that was present on the old disc is gone with a slightly darker hue to it. The same “ruddy” orange and earthy tone that is present in so many 90s films is still present, and the overall clarity is commendable. I did notice a flicker of noise in the darker night time shots, but in most areas the only issue robbing the disc of any sharpness or details is just some softness inherent to the source material. Scream Factory has also done us a favor by boosting the bitrate of the encode a good bit, and letting that eek out every bit of quality that could be done from the older master.






    Audio: :4stars:
    [​IMG] The old Sony disc had a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD track on it, and Scream Factory seems to have just re-encoded the same audio mater in DTS-HD MA 5.1 like they normally do, which is a good thing here as the 5.1 mix was a nice one back then and still remains a nice on to this day. Loud, booming, and full of excitement,
    Urban Legend’s 5.1 track is aggressive when it wants to be, but also fades back to a fairly talky affair at times. The cracks of thunder in the storm are earth shattering, and the auto crashes that happen in the final act of the film are intense and full of power. Surrounds can be hit or miss depending on whether it’s a dialog driven section of the movie or one of the more action oriented bits, but dialog is crisp and clean, and the whole thing is intensely aggressive.







    Extras: :4.5stars:
    [​IMG] Disc 1

    NEW audio commentary with director Jamie Blanks, producer Michael McDonnell, assistant Edgar Pablos, moderated by author Peter M. Bracke
    • Audio Commentary with director Jamie Blanks, writer Silvio Horta and actor Michael Rosenbaum
    • Theatrical Trailer

    Disc 2
    • NEW Urban Legacy – an eight-part documentary on the making of URBAN LEGEND (147 minutes) including interviews with director Jamie Blanks, writer Silvio Horta, executive producers Brad Luff, Nick Osborne, producers Neal Moritz, Gina Matthews, Michael McDonnell, chairman and CEO of Phoenix Pictures Mike Medavoy, production designer Charles Breen, director of photography James Chressanthis, editor Jay Cassidy, composer Christopher Young, actors Alicia Witt, Michael Rosenbaum, Natasha Gregson Wagner, Robert Englund, Loretta Devine, Rebecca Gayheart, Tara Reid, Danielle Harris, assistant Edgar Pablos author Peter M. Bracke and more…
    • NEW Behind-the-Scenes footage
    • NEW Extended interviews from the eight-part documentary
    • Archival Making of Featurette
    • Gag Reel
    • Deleted Scene
    • TV Spots







    Final Score: :4stars:


    Urban Legend, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and Scream are widely considered to be the best original horror films of the 1990s. None of them were EXCEPTIONAL (although I love Scream to death), but still very solid examples of what could be done with the genre. The film mixes in a healthy dose of gallows humor, as well as the classic use of sex crazed teenagers, stupid miscommunication, and LOTS of blood n’ gore to round it out to be a horror lovers dream. Scream Factory has also done a great job of re-doing the special features (even going so far as to give them their own disc for a majority of them), a nice hefty bitrate, and the typical reversible cover art that gives us the original Blu-ray artwork if you so desire. All in all, a very nice collector’s edition for one of the few unique (and good) horror films of a bleak decade. Recommended.



    Technical Specifications:

    Starring: Jared Leto, Michael Rosenbaun, Alicia Witt, Rebecca Gayheart, Joshua Jackson, Tara Reid, John Neville, Robert Englund, Loretta Devine, Julian Richings
    Directed by: Jamie Blanks
    Written by: Silvio Horta
    Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
    Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DTS-HD MA 2.0
    Subtitles: English SDH
    Studio: Scream Factory
    Rated: R
    Runtime: 99 Minutes
    Blu-ray Release Date: November 20th, 2018







    Recommendation: Recommended

     
    #1 Michael Scott, Dec 3, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2018
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  2. Asere

    Asere AV Addict

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    Thanks for the review. I remember watching this one at the theater and I even bought the VHS lol. I will have to watch it again on BD especially because Rebecca Gayheart is in it lol.
    I wonder what happened to her. I haven't seen her since the dreadful Jawbreaker movie.
     
    #2 Asere, Dec 4, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2018
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  3. tripplej

    tripplej AV Enthusiast

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    Thanks for the review. I never saw this in the past so will look for it. :)
     
  4. Michael Scott

    Michael Scott Moderator / Reviewer
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    yesssssssss, Rebecca Gayheart had 16 year old me watching this years ago for sure :greengrin:
     
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