Everyone knows at least one urban legend. Whether we grew up watching Freaky Stories, a Canadian show with the tagline "It happened to a friend of a friend of mine" or friends telling scary tales, it's hard not to be fascinated. Whether shared around a campfire or whispered during a sleepover, teenagers love sharing urban legends, from the man with a hook for a hand who torments couples parked in their car to a hitchhiker who totally disappears.
The cheesy 1998 horror movie Urban Legend, starring Alicia Witt, Joshua Jackson, and Rebecca Gayheart, may be cheesy, but it's a compelling look at these entertaining, spooky tales. There are several classic and popular urban legends that are depicted in the movie.
Urban Legend can be considered an underrated '90s horror movie as it's got a main character to root for (Alicia Witt's Natalie, who looks into the murders at her college campus) and a great premise of looking at urban legends.
Brenda and Natalie's friend Parker (Michael Rosenbaum) finds his dog in the microwave, a horrifying and sad moment. This moment references the "Microwaved Pet" urban legend. According to Urban Legend Wiki, the legend tells the story of Esther, an elderly woman who loves her dog. After they go for a walk in the pouring rain, she wants to put him in the microwave so he can dry off, but unfortunately and tragically, he dies in a horrific manner. When Parker gets a phone call from the killer, he yells about the urban legend about a babysitter and the killer says, "Wrong legend! This is the one about the old lady who dries her wet dog in the microwave oven."
While Urban Legend isn't a meta-horror movie in the Scream tradition, the movie does look at real urban legends and stories that people believe are true. In one memorable scene, Professor Wexler (Robert Englund), asks Brenda if she'll drink soda and eat Pop Rocks. She freaks out and tells him, "Well, supposedly, your stomach and your intestines and everything bursts."
This refers to the urban legend of Little Mikey dying because of mixing these two things together. According to Thrillist.com, people wrongly thought that John Gilchrist, who appeared in cereal commercials for Life, died from this, which became a problem for the brand. Urban Legend features this urban legend in a death scene as well, as Parker is killed by Pop Rocks and cleaning chemicals after finding the remains of his dog in the microwave.
There are several old slasher horror movies, which includes When A Stranger Calls, the 1979 horror classic that depicts the urban legend "the babysitter and the man upstairs." This story is also used in Urban Legend when Professor Wexler mentions it and Brenda says that this really took place in the town where she grew up.
As the story goes, a young woman is babysitting and after she tucks the kids into bed, she gets a phone call from someone who says "Check the children." This is also an early origin of "the call is coming from inside the house" as the cops tell the babysitter that someone murdered the kids and phoned her from upstairs.
This is a perfect scene as it shows how fast these stories spread and how people really believe them. While audiences know that Brenda ends up being evil and that she's definitely lying here and trying to stir up trouble, the moment still works. Brenda proves that many people grow up thinking that a scary tale is true when of course it can't be.
Horror fans have definitely heard of the urban legend of Bloody Mary. The idea is that you should never, ever say these words, as you're just asking to be killed. This story is used in many slasher horror movies, from the 2006 film simply called Bloody Mary to the third movie in the Urban Legend franchise which was released in 2005.
When horror movie characters say "Bloody Mary" several times while looking in a mirror, they're not likely to live very long. Urban Legend uses this tale in a scene when Natalie and Brenda say these words in Stanley Hall, a building on their college campus. While they're totally safe, this is still an unnerving moment. Bloody Mary refers to the British Queen Mary who was burned at the stake for heresy, according to Smithsonian Mag.
While some say that the '90s was a bad horror movie decade, it's still fun to see which "true" stories are part of Urban Legend. Perhaps one of the most famous urban legends is the idea that a killer would be in the backseat of a car. Urban Legend uses this story when Michelle (Natasha Gregson Wagner) gets back into her car after getting gas on a rainy night and is murdered by someone in the backseat in the first scene.
Where does this urban legend come from? Many people have said that they heard it happened to someone who they knew, with advice columnist Ann Landers writing about the urban legend, saying that a woman wrote to her and said that her friend experienced this scary incident.
MORE: 5 90s Horror Movie Twists That Stand The Test Of Time