Scream Factory Unleashes an URBAN LEGEND Double Bill on Blu-ray

It was a great time to be a horror fan in the late ‘90s. After Scream decimated the box office, every studio was assigning top talent to genre films in an attempt to reproduce Wes Craven’s meta-horror masterpiece, elevating the B-movies to A-movies for a short time. Two of the standout franchises that were ignited thanks to that craze were I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) and Urban Legend (1998), the latter of which was released this week on Blu-ray along with its proper sequel thanks to Scream Factory. I bring up I Know What You Did Last Summer because during the special features on Urban we find out the film has some interesting ties that I didn’t previously know about.

Urban Legend, as you would probably gather from the title and genre, is about a killer who dispatches their prey based on urban legends. This premise here feels a bit more dated than it should have thanks to living in the era of, which has quelled much of this kind of urban folklore that has been replaced since by Creepypasta. But in its period, pre-Snopes and pre-cell phones, the premise worked and was downright clever. I hadn’t seen the film since I caught it on its original theatrical run, and it’s still a fun slasher that thanks to its great cast is a time capsule of the era. Alicia Witt stars as Natalie, an unconventional final girl who is cast alongside a plethora of rising stars. A young Jared Leto is the ambitious reporter for the school paper; a fresh-faced Tara Reid does a sex advice show on the school radio; Rebecca Gayheart, fresh off Scream 2, is the best friend; and scream queen Danielle Harris is Natalie’s ‘90s goth roommate. The cast is capped off with Freddy Kruger himself, Robert Englund, as a professor who, as you probably guessed, specializes in urban legends.

Having recently caught up with both I Know and Urban, I have to say of the two Urban is my personal favorite. The film may not be as meta or intellectual as Scream, but it’s still very self-aware and littered with in jokes aimed at its cast and premise. Director and genre fan Jamie Blanks was brought to the project after he funded and directed a trailer for I Know What You Did Last Summer, before a single frame of the film was shot, in a bid to direct it. Since that director was already pretty much locked in, Jamie was given first crack at Urban Legend, which went on to launch the young director’s career. He would follow it up another future Scream Factory release, the divisive Valentine. Urban Legend still succeeds not only thanks to its great ensemble cast, but a complete understanding of the slasher sub-genre with plenty of tongue in cheek moments for hard-core fans.

Next up was the sequel Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000), which came two years later and bears a striking resemblance to Scream 3, which also hit theaters the same year and tackled the meta film within a narrative depicting the fictional killer from the franchise. With Urban, however, it’s student filmmakers at the prestigious Alpine University as opposed to Scream and its Stab franchise, which is shot in Hollywood proper. When student Amy Mayfield (Jennifer Morrison) has trouble coming up with a concept for her senior thesis film, she happens to run into campus security guard and consummate Coffy fan Reese Wilson (Loretta Devine) one snowy night. The only returning character from the previous film gives her the spark needed when she tells her about the urban legend murders at Pendleton University, which we find out were covered up from the public.

These thesis films, once graded, are then put into competition for the prestigious Hitchcock award that comes with a $15,000 stipend and a fast track to a career in Hollywood. This of course gives plenty of motive as Amy’s film crew is picked off one by one by a fencing mask-wearing killer as she makes a film featuring a whole new set of urban legends. While the first film was more of a straight forward slasher, Final Cut is more of a suspense thriller, littered with homages to Alfred Hitchcock and other films. Given the success of the original there was a bit more competition to direct the sequel, which went to award winning composer and editor John Ottman in his singular outing, which also killed the franchise. I think the switching of the gears probably from slasher to thriller hurt this film the most at the time, because re-watching it now it’s actually pretty great and has some clever moments. The only issue is you have to have enough of a background in classic and foreign horror to appreciate them.

Both films are presented in previously available masters with new extras thanks to Scream Factory, where Final Cut previously wasn’t available in the US on Blu-ray. Before you fanboys cry foul because both transfers looked great the first time around, so why re-do them — Urban makes up for this with a feature length documentary that does something surprisingly different here, compared with most I’ve seen. Not only do we get the cast interviews as you’d expect, you get more interviews with folks behind the scenes that give a truly comprehensive look at how this project came together, given the concept was cooked up well before Jamie was attached. Everyone looks back on the project with a fondness that shows they had as much fun behind the scenes as in front of the camera, and you can genuinely tell in the final product. You also get a new commentary with director Jamie Blanks, producer Michael McDonnell, and assistant Edgar Pablos, moderated by author Peter M. Bracke, that puts the previous commentary to shame.

While I still have a strong affection for Urban Legend, watching both films I didn’t expect to enjoy Final Cut as much as I did. It’s definitely a product of its time, but it’s also a bit ahead of its time in shifting genres and paying homage to a lot of films that weren’t as readily available then as they are now. Also, it made sense that Scream Factory would just release these two together given these films are much more tied together thanks to Loretta Devine and the use of urban legends as a plot device, where the third feels almost like a pre-existing script that was rebranded for some name recognition. Both films are still a lot of fun and worthy additions to your collection thanks to the exhaustive documentary for Urban, which also carries on to the Final Cut disc. While most seem fixated on romanticizing ‘80s horror, it’s great the ‘90s are finally getting their due, thanks to Scream starting to give their special treatment to some of the hallmark titles of that decade.

URBAN LEGEND Collector’s Edition Special Features:


NEW audio commentary with director Jamie Blanks, producer Michael McDonnell, and assistant Edgar Pablos, moderated by author Peter M. Bracke

Audio Commentary with director Jamie Blanks, writer Silvio Horta, and actor Michael Rosenbaum

Theatrical Trailer


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


NEW The Legend Continues: Urban Legends: Final Cut including interviews with producers Gina Matthews, Michael McDonnell, executive producers Nick Osborne, Brad Luff, chairman and CEO of Phoenix Pictures Mike Medavoy, writer Silvio Horta, actors Loretta Devine and Rebecca Gayheart

NEW interview with actress Jessica Cauffiel

Audio Commentary with director John Ottman

Deleted Scenes with optional commentary by director John Ottman

Vintage Making of Featurette

Gag Reel

Theatrical Trailer

1080p High-Definition Widescreen (2.35:1)/DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1/2000/English Subtitles/Approximate Feature Running Time: 99 Minutes. Rated R

TV Spots

1080p High-Definition Widescreen (2.40:1)/DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1/English Subtitles/1998/ Approximate Feature Running Time: 99 Minutes. Rated R

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