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Reel Toronto: Urban Legend

Toronto’s extensive work on the silver screen reveals that, while we have the chameleonic ability to look like anywhere from New York City to Moscow, the disguise doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny. Reel Toronto revels in digging up and displaying the films that attempt to mask, hide, or—in rare cases—proudly display our city.
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Urban Legend is no classic, but it’s well above average both in terms of its quality in comparison to other Toronto-shot movies and the gaggle of gimmicky teen horror flicks in that post-Scream, pre-Saw golden age.
Also, we haven’t seen a movie that uses the University of Toronto campus this much since PCU. It’s just nutty. And, to us, that’s the important thing.


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The main characters spend much of the film hanging out in this scholarly coffee shop, actually Diablos (a.k.a. the Junior Common Room) at University College.
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In theory, heroine Alicia Witt should get in there by going through these doors in the UC quad, but she ends up in a residence.
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Another time she goes through the doors and finds herself in the always picturesque Knox College, where we meet a creepy janitor played by the ever-reliable Julian Richings.
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You can see a bit more of it in this wide shot.
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But don’t say goodbye to the UC quad just yet. We see it again here…
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…and here.
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There’s also a longish scene on the building’s west side. The quad outside the Sir Daniel Wilson residence also hosted a protest in PCU
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…and thespian John Neville holds court in this reverse angle.
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UC’s front steps get a bit of love here both in the dark…
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…and the light…
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…leading out to the front campus area.
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But, believe it or not, they did also shoot in other parts of UofT’s St. George campus. This, for example, is Victoria University. We get to see it at night…
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…and in the light of day. The film then cuts to…
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…Convocation Hall, where Robert Englund (the dude who played Freddie!) does some very meta lecturing on urban legends.
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This is Hart House, though there’s a shot that implies it also shares a quad with UC. So many quads, so little time.
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A bit more modern is the radio station where Tara Reid (before she got tabloid crazy) works.
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Towards the end she gets chased around the building by a killer and we can see, by the atrium, that it’s in the Rotman Centre for Management, which was brand-spanking-new back then. That’s right, future business leaders: Tara Reid was in your atrium!
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The helicoptered establishing shots of the campus actually used Port Hope’s Trinity College School, however.
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The film does occasionally leave the campus. This scene, for example, was shot way out in Greenwood, Ontario, which is in Pickering, just past where the 407 ends. The gas station is still there, on Highway 7, though it’s now an AMCO, apparently.
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More academically, this research is taking place in the Osgoode Hall library.
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Though there are a couple of pools at U of T, this scene was actually shot at the Etobicoke Olympium.
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John Neville gets his Achilles tendon slashed rather nastily in what looks like the Lower Jarvis Green P lot, which we’ve seen in Red and a few other films.
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This building probably looks familiar, but not because we’re back at UofT. It’s actually the old Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital that is now part of Humber College’s Lakeshore Campus. We saw it in our very first Reel Toronto, where it played the role of the police academy in, well, Police Academy. Now, that’s some history for you.
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You can see a bit more of what is now called Humber Building G here.
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And, hey, it’s Gord Martineau on TV!
We could go on about whether the movie is good, bad, scary, non-sensical, or worthy of the sequels that followed but, come on: Gord Martineau! What more could you want?

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