I always wished I was a good storyteller. Ask anyone, my stories are usually of the "something like that happened to me once" kind with little to no purpose. I usually have to announce the end. What this comes down to is that even though I can't tell one, I love a good story. If you're a good storyteller, I will give you my full attention. But no story beats an urban legend. I personally don't remember too many from my childhood, but they make the best tales because there might be--just might be some truth behind them. Here are some great pop culture moments in urban legends. Note: best if read with a flashlight to your face.
1. The Sandlot (1993)
Initially thinking about this, my mind instantly went to the legend of the dog in the backyard next to the lot in The Sandlot. In the story, the dog is huge, is a great junk yard dog, eats people, and then is eventually banished for, you know, ever. This really puts the gang into a huge pickle. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the whole story online, so please enjoy Squints' enduring final words:
2. Season 1 Episode 3 "Stoop Kid" from Hey Arnold! (1996)
My favorite storyteller is an animated boy named Gerald. He is the holder of his New York neighborhood's secrets (which are probably in his towering hair). Motivated by a football landing on a stoop and the fact that they can't retrieve said ball, Gerald tells the classic tale of Stoop Kid (about a minute in):
3. Ode to Billy Joe (1976)
Prossibly one the most gimmicky movies ever, Ode to Billy Joe aimed to give a background story to the legendary song that shared the same name, basically filling in why Bill Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahasee bridge. The two don't have much in common other than the name, but the movie itself is pretty weird. It holds promise at the beginning, but turns into one of the most unexpected endings ever (at least to me the one time I saw it late on TV one night). Poor Billy Joe. He's pretty cute, and all he wanted to do is get with Bobbie Lee, but then he gets sexually confused. The beginning:
4. Anastasia (1956)
Based on one of the best urban legends, Anastasia brings a legend to life. A woman with a mysterious and sordid past is transformed into the Princess Anastasia, who supposedly survived the revolution. At the end, we're still left wondering is she or isn't she Anastasia? In this scene we see Anna (Ingrid Bergman) after she learns General Bounine's (Yul Brynner) plot to use her as a fake Anastasia to earn money. Anna then starts to tell crazy stories of her own:
Side note: I find Yul Brynner unbelievably attractive in the movie.
5. Gone With the Wind (1939)
Part of what makea Rhett Butler such an interesting character is how he allows others to define his character. From the very beginning we hear that he has a bad reputation, but further along, he's hailed as a war hero. His fame, good or bad, tends to precede him wherever he goes. Urban legend? Maybe not, but a legend nonetheless. Here's the initial gossip about Captain Butler (the first minute):
6. The Village (2004)
There are a lot of legends in horror movies, but the way the stories work in the film is more complicated than just a monster: they're a way to keep everyone in the village. Say what you will about the last half of the film, the first half is engaging and has some great scare moments involving the strange creatures in the woods. At about 4 minutes into this clip, we see Shyamalan implying the legend of the "those we don't speak of" through the characters' actions. Lovely filmmaking:
This post has been submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society.
Speaking of M. Night, prepare yourselves for Shyamalanathon 2009. Coming soon.