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Had it not been for the phenomenal box-office success of SCREAM, hip teen horror films like URBAN LEGEND ($30) probably would never get made. The plot of URBAN LEGEND is not too difficult to figure out, a killer is on the loose on the campus of North Eastern University and all the crimes are recreations of well known urban legends. Personally, I wasn't expecting too much from another film that is riding the coattails of SCREAM, but URBAN LEGEND turned out to be just enough fun on DVD to make it a worthwhile evening's entertainment. Alicia Witt plays Natalie Simon, the only person on campus that is able to put two and two together and come up with serial killer. Rebecca Gayheart is her friend Brenda and Jared Leto is Paul, the obnoxious reporter wannabe from the college newspaper. Joshua Jackson and Loretta Devine interject the film's only real humorous moments, while John Neville lends a touch of class to the proceedings. Robert Englund uses his horror film notoriety to good effect as the sociology professor teaching a course in- you guessed it- urban legends. Michael Rosenbaum, Tara Reid, Danielle Harris, Julian Richings, Natasha Wagner and Brad Dourif supply a number of entertaining moments. Sure, the plot has holes in it I could drive a city bus through, but director Jamie Blanks manages to cover his tracks by keeping the suspense high, and utilizing a few well-placed scares.

Columbia TriStar Home Video offers URBAN LEGEND on DVD in both full screen and anamorphic enhanced wide screen versions on opposite sides of the disc. The full screen version will suffice, it you must subject yourself to it. As far as I’m concerned, any movie filmed in the 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio should only be viewed as the filmmaker’s intended, and the Letterboxed transfer is just about dead on perfect in recreating the theatrical framing. Cinematographer James Chressanthis did a great job of creating a very dark, but detailed film. Grain is in check most of the time and minimal lighting casts just the right number of shadows. The transfer manages to pull every last bit of detail of the film, while offering a very sharp image during well-lit sequences. Colors are well saturated, while chroma noise remained completely nil. Digital compression artifacts were virtually undetectable.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack had a dependable mix. Channel separation was good and sound effects were well placed. Music reproduced quite well, as did the clean, intelligible dialogue. A matrixed Dolby Surround track, as well as a French language track have also been provided on the DVD. Subtitles have been encoded into the disc in English and French.

The interactive menus a have a simple, but appropriate design that give on access to the standard scene and language selection features, plus supplements. Chief amongst the supplements is an audio commentary featuring director Jamie Blanks, writer Silvio Horta and actor Michael Rosenbaum. The commentary was entertaining enough to be worth a listen. Other supplements include a "Making-Of" featurette, theatrical trailer and cast biographies/filmographies.




DVD reviews are Copyright 1999 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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