Usually one will find it's way to your e-mail inbox every few weeks.

Note for the gullible:

News will not come to you through email. CNN reporters don't have to check their inbox for breaking stories. If an astonishing item happens to come your way don't send it to me!

Thank you.

A 1998 movie in the good old slasher style, using the premise of the psycopathic serial killer basing each of his murders on a traditional American urban legend. Featuring the obligatory genre cast of screaming teens and sceptical adult authority figures, this could have been a reasonable film, especially with the recent resurgence in popularity of the slasher movie.

Unfortunately, it's not done well enough. The suspense never really builds and it lacks the self-referential knowingness of its contemporaries such as the Scream series and I Know What You Did Last Summer. To give it its dues, there are a few genuinely scary moments and some of the Urban Legend murders are nicely done, but at the end of the day you come away with a feeling that so much more could have been done with the idea. Worth watching for the cameo from Robert Englund if you're into this type of film however.

"Trust me, it's an urban legend."

"No it's not! I know the guy it happened to! Or, well, actually, I know his sister's boyfriend who used to live with this guy and his aunt told it to him... or something like that..."

Urban legends. Don't you love 'em?

Where do these tales come from? Who decides "This would make a great story! I'll email it to everyone I know!"? And what makes a good urban legend to begin with?

Most urban legends are based on something vaguely true, as sabre23t has said. In time, the story changes, morphs and mutates (not to mention is exaggerated) into something huge, a story "everyone should know so they can BEWARE!!", as seen in various email urban legends.

Many legends carry a warning to members of society, quite often women. An example:
A couple are making out in a car in the middle of the woods. They hear a scritching on the top of the car and ignore it, continuing to make out. It gets louder and louder, until finally the boy gets out to check what the noise is, telling the girl to stay in the car. Hours later he's still not back and the girl is scared to death as the scratching sound hasn't stopped. As the sun rises cops pull up and order the girl to stay in the car- threre's an ESCAPED MURDERER ON THE ROOF OF THE CAR! As the police lead the murderer away they tell the girl that her boyfriend had been killed; if the murderer had scratched through another inch he would have gotten to her and KILLED HER TOO!

That story tells a powerful tale to young women: don't go out to the woods with a boy. Indirectly, it tells of the dangers of pre-marital sex and foolish girls.

Urban legends also warn of the dangers of buying/using foreign products. Bananas imported from Mexico have killer insects and worms living under the skin- you might eat them and THEY'LL HATCH IN YOUR STOMACH!

If you don't wash your hair or have dreadlocks spiders might make a nest in your scalp , and you won't realise your headaches are caused by THE SPIDERS BITING INTO YOUR HEAD ALL THE TIME!

Urban legends are also started by malicious rumourmongers who aim to ruin the reputation of a certain business: remember the restaurant that served a steak to a customer who got sick from it? She went to the hospital and it was discovered the steak had SPERM ON IT, and that's what made her sick (there are many things wrong with that story on so many levels). After a few tellings, the evil story spread to a variety of restaurants and foodstuffs.

According to the Urban Legend Research Centre, the people who tell urban legends can be grouped into the following:

  • Believers- those gullible people who actually send those annoying emails to warn you of impending danger.
  • Fence sitters- not too sure if the story is true or not, but it's better to be safe than sorry...
  • Substantiaters- offer "evidence", usually in the form of more anecdotes.
  • Self-Promoters- "you'll be glad you listened to me when you follow my advice. This happened to my friend..."
  • Entertainers- don't care if it's true or not, it's a damn good story anyway.
  • Alarmists- these people are freaked out by society as a whole. It's true for sure. Stranger things have happened. People are weird.
There are heaps of urban legends at urbanlegends.com, snopes.com and ulrc.com.au. But beware! Take heed of their messages and listen to the warnings, or you'll be sorry...

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