Urban Legend [Collector’s Edition] – Blu-ray Review

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Film Title: Urban Legend
Release Date: 1998
Rating: R
Runtime: 99 minutes
Region Coding: Region A
Studio: Scream Factory (Shout! Factory)
Audio Format: DTS-HD MA 5.1 & 2.0
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Formats Available: Blu-ray
Version Reviewed: Blu-ray Disc
Blu-ray Release Date: 11/20/18
Director: Jamie Blanks
Cast: Jared LetoAlicia WittRebecca Gayheart, Michael Rosenbaum, Joshua Jackson, Tara Reid, Danielle Harris, Natasha Gregson Wagner, Robert Englund, Loretta Devine, Brad Dourif, Julian Richings, John Neville


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The Movie

“Urban Legend” was a 1998 horror film directed by Jamie Blanks, also known for directing the horror films “Valentine” (2001), “Storm Warning” (2007), and “Long Weekend” (2008). This film’s screenplay was written by Silvio Horta, known for being a co-creator of the TV show “Ugly Betty” (2006 – 2010).

The story’s protagonist is a girl named “Natalie” (Alicia Witt) attending college. Natalie has a group of friends that includes her closest friend “Brenda” (Rebecca Gayheart), a writer at the school newspaper “Paul” (Jared Leto), the overly sympathetic “Damon” (Joshua Jackson), as well as the couple that is “Parker” (Michael Rosenbaum) and “Sasha” (Tara Reid). While Sasha is busy with her radio show at the college, the other friends take a class that focuses on folklore, taught by “Professor Wexler” (Robert Englund), where the topic is none other than “urban legends” – hence the title.

There’s another reason the film has the title (in singular form) and that’s because there is a serial killer near or on the campus that is executing students with an axe, in an urban myth style. It becomes a bit apparent that this may be the case to Natalie pretty early on as she makes some ties to the students that have been murdered. She goes to the authorities, “Dean Adams” (John Neville) and the school’s security guard “Reese” (Loretta Devine), but sadly the authority figures don’t believe her. Eventually Natalie will get some help from her friend Paul that works at the school newspaper in trying to catch the killer, before the killer catches them.

This horror film offers up some nice cameos by some modern horror legends like Robert Englund (mentioned above) that most know as “Freddy Krueger” from the “Nightmare on Elm Street” films. There’s also Brad Dourif in a small part early in the film, best known as the voice of “Chucky” in those films. Finally, there’s Natalie’s gothic roommate “Tosh” played by Danielle Harris, best known for her roles in sequels “Halloween 4” and “Halloween 5” – as well as her roles in the first two “Halloween” film remakes (by Rob Zombie).

It’s one of the typical teen audience horror films of the nineties, there’s no doubt in that, as it reminds you a bit of the films “I Know What You Did Last Summer” (1997) and “Scream” (1996). Those two films spawned franchises with sequels, and this did as well. The first sequel came with “Urban Legends: Final Cut” (2000) and there even was a direct-to-video sequel “Urban Legends: Bloody Mary” (2005). This first film though, in the twenty years since its release, has developed a bit of a cult-following.

Movie Rating: 3.5 (out of 5)


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Video Quality

According to the technical specifications listed on IMDb this was shot on Super 35MM film using Panavision cameras. During its theatrical run this was presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, but as just with the previous Blu-ray we get it presented once again in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio.

Visually, this appears to be, the very same transfer that the original Blu-ray offered. You will notice that a nice amount of film grain was preserved and a solid black level. The color palette can feel subdued a tad bit at times, to fit the visual style, but does have some bright colors at times. The red hair of actress Alicia Witt really can show off as one of the more vibrant colors throughout the film. Flesh tones appear to be accurate. There’s a nice amount of detail to be found here, especially in closeups.

To be a 1998 film and from an older transfer, it holds up pretty well visually. If you previously owned this on Blu-ray: don’t expect a difference visually. If you’ve never owned this film on Blu-ray before: you actually should be pleased with what you get here in terms of a high definition presentation, although it could have looked better.

EDITOR NOTE: This video transfer does have an issue where there seem to be vertical lines at times just slightly visible on the film print. It can at times be a tad bit distracting, and a little bothersome. Thankfully the vertical lines issue doesn’t last a whole lot, and some people might not even notice it. Perhaps I was just looking too closely for differences between this and the original Blu-ray? I can’t deny that. Because of that issue not being fixed, I can’t give this anything but a 4 (out of 5) rating. It has potential to look better, someday, if given a new transfer from the Super 35MM film source. Still, it proves to be pretty much solid in terms of presentation – despite a few tiny flaws and being a decade old video transfer.

Video Quality Rating: 4 (out of 5)


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Audio Quality

Audio here is presented in both DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio and DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio Stereo. The original 2008 Blu-ray featured Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless mix. Here we get that 5.1 mix instead delivered in the DTS-HD Master Audio format. Does it sound any differently? Actually, yes, it seems to boast a little bit better arrangement of what gets use in the rear channel speakers.

There’s a nice amount of bass during some of the more intense moments, which you’ll hear from your subwoofer. Dialogue is mixed perfectly, delivered mostly from the center channel speaker, never once being drowned out by any of the action. The film’s original Score (composed by Christopher Young) gets a nice mix, mainly utilizing the front left and right channels with a bit beyond subtle use of the rear channel speakers. The rear channels also get used effectively for sound effects, such as during an opening scene that takes place during the rain. The sound of rain and thunder fills the entire surround soundscape here, setting the mood as does the original Score.

This 5.1 mix, now in DTS-HD Master Audio, manages to do the film justice. What you get here is an very solid 5.1 lossless mix, along with now the option to even listen in a 2.0 Stereo lossless mix as well.

Audio Quality Rating: 4.25 (out of 5)


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Bonus Materials

Bonus materials on this release are presented in HD video with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound – unless otherwise noted below. Each disc contains bonus content, which includes the following:

Disc 1 bonus materials include:

  • NEW Audio Commentary with Director Jamie Blanks, Producer Michael McDonnell and Assistant Edgar Pablos
  • Audio Commentary with Director Jamie Blank, Writer Silvio Horta and Actor Michael Rosenbaum – originally appeared on the 2008 Blu-ray release.
  • Theatrical Trailer (2:28 – HD)

Disc 2 bonus materials include:

 “Urban Legacy” is entirely comprised of NEW materials created for this release and includes :

  • “The Story Behind Urban Legend (9:37 – HD) gives a glimpse into how the film came to be, after all of the successful teen horror films like “Scream” and “I Know What You Did Last Summer” were released back in 1996 and 1997. A year later this film would come about. This featurette includes interviews with Peter M. Bracke (Author “Crystal Lake Memories”, “Scary Movies”), Neal Moritz (Producer), Gina Matthews (Producer), Silvio Horta (Writer), Brad Luff (Executive Producer), Mike Medavoy (Chairman & CEO, Phoenix Pictures), and Nick Osborne (Creative Executive, Phoenix Pictures).
  • “Assembling The Team” (17:44 – HD) focuses on the producers working on getting a crew together to make the film: starting (most importantly) with a director. This featurette includes interviews with Jamie Blanks (Director), Simon Millar (Jamie Blanks’ Manager), Neal Moritz (Producer), Brad Luff (Executive Producer), Nick Osborne (Creative Executive, Phoenix Pictures), Mike Medavoy (Chairman & CEO, Phoenix Pictures), Gina Matthews (Producer), Silvio Horta (Writer), Michael McDonnell (Producer), Edgar Pablos (Former Personal Assistant to Jamie Blanks), Charles Breen (Production Designer), James Chressanthis (Director of Photography), and Jay Cassidy (Editor). Throughout this featurette you will get to see some footage from director Jamie Blanks’ early short films and a trailer he did (for another film) that landed him this gig. There’s also some on set photos and clips from this film shown occasionally throughout.
  • “A Cast of Legends” (18:46 – HD) focuses on the film’s cast, that included some modern horror legends in smaller parts. This featurette includes interviews with Nick Osborne (Creative Executive, Phoenix Pictures), Brad Luff (Executive Producer), Gina Matthews (Producer), Edgar Pablos (Former Personal Assistant to Jamie Blanks), Brad Luff (Executive Producer), Alicia Witt (“Natalie”), Rebecca Gayheart (“Brenda”), Michael McDonnell (Producer), Robert Englund (“Professor Wexler”), Michael Rosenbaum (“Parker”), Tara Reid (“Sasha”), Loretta Devine (“Reese”), and Danielle Harris (“Tosh”). Clips from the film, as well as on set footage and photos are shown throughout these interviews.
  • “There’s Someone in the Back Seat” (15:42 – HD) focuses on the opening scene of the film and how it really sets the whole film up. This featurette includes interviews with Natasha Gregson Wagner (“Michelle”), Gina Matthews (Producer), Jamie Blanks (Director), James Chressanthis (Director of Photography), Brad Luff (Executive Producer), Michael McDonnell (Producer), Charles Breen (Production Designer), Edgar Pablos (Former Personal Assistant to Jamie Blanks), Robert Englund (“Professor Wexler”), Silvio Horta (Writer), Jay Cassidy (Editor). Along the way you get to see storyboards, on set footage and photos, as well as clips from the film all combined with the interviews.
  • “Stories from the Set” (28:39 – HD) is pretty self explanatory by the title and features interviews with Silvio Horta (Writer), Edgar Pablos (Former Personal Assistant To Jamie Blanks), Michael McDonell (Producer), Loretta Devine (“Reese”), Rebecca Gayheart (“Brenda”), Jay Cassidy (Editor), Danielle Harris (“Tosh”), Alicia Witt (“Natalie”), Natasha Gregson Wagner (“Michelle”), Michael Rosenbaum (“Parker”), Brad Luff (Executive Producer), Robert Englund (“Professor Wexler”), Gina Matthews (Producer), Charles Breen (Production Designer), James Chressanthis (Director of Photography), Jamie Blanks (Director), Tara Reid (“Sasha”), Nick Osborne (Creative Executive, Phoenix Pictures), and Mike Medavoy (Chair & CEO, Phoenix Pictures). This featurette has a whole lot of on set footage (home videos) and photos, as well as clips from the film all throughout, playing along with the interviews
  • “Campus Carnage” (23:30 – HD) focuses on the deaths and features interviews with Michael McDonnell (Producer), James Chressanthis (Director of Photography), Jay Cassidy (Editor), Danielle Harris (“Tosh”), Edgar Pablos (Former Personal Assistant to Jamie Blanks), Alicia Witt (“Natalie”), Michael Rosenbaum (“Parker”), Robert Englund (“Professor Wexler”), Tara Reid (“Sasha”), Jamie Blanks (Director), Silvio Horta (Writer), Rebecca Gayheart (“Brenda”), and Loretta Devine (“Reese”). This featurette includes storyboards, lots of on set footage and photos, as well as clips from the film that are shown throughout the interviews.
  • “A Legendary Composer” (16:29 – HD) focuses on the composer who did the film’s original Score, and includes interviews with Michael McDonnell (Producer), Christopher Young (Composer), Jamie Blanks (Director), Nick Osborne (Creative Executive, Phoenix Pictures), Edgar Pablos (Former Personal Assistant to Jamie Blanks), Gina Matthews (Producer), Silvio Horta (Writer), and Charles Breen (Production Designer). This features some old video of Christopher Young playing early versions of the music to the film for the director on just a piano and then recording sessions with a full orchestra, as well. There are also some clips from the film playing during these interviews.
  • “A Lasting Legacy” (17:01 – HD) focuses on the fan base that this film has developed over the past two decades. You get interviews here with Nick Osborne (Creative Executive, Phoenix Pictures), Edgar Pablos (Former Assistant to Jamie Blanks), Jay Cassidy (Editor), Rebecca Gayheart (“Brenda”), Michael McDonnell (Producer), James Chressanthis (Director of Photography), Neal Moritz (Producer), Brad Luff (Executive Producer), Mike Medavoy (Chairman & CEO, Phoenix Pictures), Natasha Gregson Wagner (“Michelle”), Simon Millar (Jamie Blanks’ Manager), Gina Matthews (Producers), Robert Englund (“Professor Wexler”), Alicia Witt (“Natalie”), Rebecca Gayheart (“Brenda”), Loretta Devine (“Reese”), Silvio Horta (Writer), Michael Rosenbaum (“Parker”), Charles Breen (Production Designer), Danielle Harris (“Tosh”), and Tara Reid (“Sasha”). You get to see a bit of footage of one of the original theatrical previews of the film and the audience’s reaction here, as well as photos from the theatrical premiere.
  • Extended Interviews (39:44 – HD) include a lot of the cast and crew members listed in the other featurettes above.
  • Extended Interviews – Part 2 (33:46 – HD) again, includes a lot of the cast and crew members listed in the other featurettes above.

“Behind-the-Scenes Footage” is separated into a total of three parts, and features some interviews with the cast and crew members on set. The three parts that make this are listed as follows: Part 1 (9:37 – HD), Part 2 (16:20 – HD), and Part 3 (20:40 – HD).

  • “Archival Making Of Featurette” (10:09 – HD) originally appeared on the 2008  Blu-ray release of the film. This includes a lot of behind-the-scenes footage, candid on set interviews with cast members, and B-Roll footage that is narrated by the director.
  • Deleted Scene (2:40 – HD)
  • TV Spots (1:36 – HD) are from a very low resolution video source and have been upconverted. They don’t look very good at all, but are nice to see included here for nostalgia purposes.
  • “Gag Reel” (2:14 – HD) again, comes from a very low resolution video source and is presented incorrectly in the 4×3 (1.33:1) aspect ratio for material from a widescreen source. The gag reel ends up being in a big black frame with timestamps running at the bottom. This is somewhat entertaining, nonetheless.

Overall the bonus materials here prove to be very lengthy, including some of the original DVD and Blu-ray extras ported over, along with an older audio commentary, and we get loads of NEW extras with interviews, and a new audio commentary from the director (along with others) as well.

All of the bonus content here (without commentaries included) totals up to well over 4 and a half hours in runtime. That’s pretty damn extensive, and the fans of the film are going to really enjoy this (mostly all) new content. There are a few cast members that we don’t get interviews here from, that would have really made things all the more cooler to celebrate the film being 20 years old. Still, it’s downright impressive in terms of bonus material, and very, very close to perfection.

Bonus Materials Rating: 4.75 (out of 5)


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Closing Thoughts

“Urban Legend” still remains to have a cult following in the horror genre, even decades after its original theatrical release. I’ll be honest here: I have to admit, I originally wasn’t really the biggest fan of this film originally when it came out, but the more that I watch this film, and (perhaps) as I get older, it has become a horror that I have actually learned to enjoy, after seeing it more than a couple of times now. It’s always somehow enough to leave me somewhat intrigued by the story, even after my original first viewing, and still offers up nice performances from a cast of young actors, as well as a few smaller parts played by some modern horror legends.

This film is technically now 20 years old, so you’d think that it would have got a new video transfer since there hasn’t been one done in over a decade – since the original 2008 Blu-ray was released. Sadly, you get that very same video transfer here and 5.1 lossless mix that seems like only a slight improvement – with the option of a Stereo lossless mix.

Where the presentation may be a bit of a let down to some fans, the real beauty of this release can be found in the bonus materials that get their own Blu-ray Disc, in addition to those contained on the first Blu-ray Disc with the film. Those discs combined, you’ll get 2 audio commentaries and loads of new interviews, lots of behind-the-scenes footage, as well as the original DVD and Blu-ray extras ported over.

Bonus materials here total up to over 4 and a half hours: NO JOKE. That’s almost longer, or the length of all three films made so far in this franchise – JUST in bonus materials for this first film. That should leave you very happy. It definitely lives up to the “Collector’s Edition” part of the name. This is well worth getting to replace that old Blu-ray if you’re looking to watch hours and hours of additional content, as well as listen to the audio commentary tracks.

In terms of Blu-ray release, this gets:
4 (out of 5) for video quality
4.25 (out of 5) for audio quality
4.75 (out of 5) for bonus materials


Overall Verdict:
Recommended for Fans


Available As:

2018 “Collector’s Edition” Blu-ray Release

Original 2008 Blu-ray Release


Blu-ray Disc Screenshots:

 

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Packaging:

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