Urban Legend

1998, Movie, R, 97 mins

Review

URBAN LEGEND
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What if some psycho killer read up on all those urban legends -- you know, the babysitter who's getting threatening calls from inside the house, the guy with the ax in the back seat of the unsuspecting woman's car, the gang members who kill you when you flash your high beams at them -- and decided to try them out for real? Well, it would make for a solid throwback to the gory days of gimmicky stalk-and-slash pictures, a sort of DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD with a greatest hits of mayhem twist (the kind that totally failed to boost 1995's COPYCAT out of the serial killer ghetto). Pendleton College coed Michelle Mancini (Natasha Gregson Wagner) is murdered and the cops are looking for some weirdo pump jockey (Brad Dourif) because Michelle stopped at his gas station that night. But we know better: There really was an ax-wielding stowaway in her back seat. The Pendleton administration tries to downplay the murder: Isn't it bad enough that generations of students have enlivened drunken frat parties by passing down the story of a wacko psych professor who supposedly slaughtered a dorm full of students? But headstrong Natalie (Alicia Witt) starts snooping, as her friends and acquaintances vanish or turn up dead under bizarre circumstances. Could creepy Professor Wexler (Robert Englund), whose folklore class deals with urban legends, be behind it all? Or could it be someone else, maybe even cutie-pie Paul (Jared Leto), an intrepid reporter for the school paper? Storms rage, blood spatters and attractive young things -- most of them a rung or two further up the career ladder than psycho-fodder in pictures like this used to be -- bite the dust. Fun if you like this kind of thing and don't expect too much of it. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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