Day 25 Escape from New York from 1981
Tagline – “1997. New York City is now a maximum security prison. Breaking out is impossible. Breaking in is insane.“
Who’s our hero today?
MacReady and Jack Burton combine spiritual forces with Kurt Russell to become Snake Plissken. Yes it takes three to make one Snake.
Had I seen this one on VHS back in the day?
This one I had recorded from the telly and watched over and over again. Later I would buy the Channel 5 VHS release and upgraded to DVD in the late 90s.
Quick plot run down.
In the dystopian future of 1997 crime has escalated completely out of control. The solution? Turn New York City’s Manhattan into a maximum security prison. Within a military controlled walled complex the inmates are free to try and survive the best they can. Gangs of murderous criminals and lowlifes live through the broken city. If you go in, you don’t come back out. With Air Force One hijacked by freedom fighters and crashed inside the fortress walls, news is received that the President has been captured and held for ransom. There is only one man to go into harsh landscape and that is the one-eyed lone warrior, Snake Plissken.
Does the hero have a day job?
Full-time total bad ass. A former Special Forces soldier and decorated war veteran hero during World War III. After the war he’d become a criminal until being captured and convicted of attempting to rob the Federal Reserve.
What’s our heroes special skills?
Apart from being one of the coolest 80’s heroes of all time he also has knowledge in all types of military strategies, martial arts, weapons expert and is completely fearless.
Heroes weapon of choice?
A MAC-10 machine gun fitted with a sound suppressor and a rifle laser scope.
Heroes drink of choice?
Like his alter-ego MacReady I bet Snake likes nothing more than some J&B Rare Blend Whisky on the rocks whilst chilling playing computer chess.
Does hero have a sidekick?
He gets a few unwanted sidekicks that you don’t know whether to trust or not. New York Cabbie (Ernest Borgnine) is always on hand with a friendly Molotov cocktail and a ride around the slum city. Then there’s Brain (Harry Dean Stanton) and his gorgeous girlfriend Maggie (Adrienne Barbeau) who work for the Duke. Brain’s is held hostage by the Duke until he finds a clear pathway across the booby-trapped mined Manhattan bridge leading to possible freedom.
Hot girl? Damsel in distress or ass kicker?
I’m gonna put Marilyn Monroe or is that The President (Donald Pleasence) in this section as the damsel in distress. After jettisoning from Air Force One before it crashed within the walls of Manhattan in his escape pod. The President now finds himself a prisoner held for ransom. He has important information inside a handcuffed briefcase, a cassette tape with secret plans for a nuclear fusion reactor. It is hoped to be used as a peace offering to the Soviet Union to halt another world war. Luckily the President has a tracking bracelet.
Who’s the main baddie?
The overall crime boss of this prison state is the Duke of New York (Isaac Hayes). The Duke loves nothing more than driving his 1977 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham with a disco ball and two giant chandeliers as headlights around the city.
Baddies special skills?
His freaky looking second in command Romero (Frank Doubleday) does his bidding and keeping his eyes to the ground. Information, snitching and sitting around looking freakish is his special skill set.
Psycho baddies rating out of ten? 8.5/10
The Duke knows and controls everything. He has a vast army of foot soldiers.
Heroes balls of steel and anger ratings out of ten? 10/10
Eye patch and King Cobra snake tattoo coming out his trousers! If that’s not badass enough I don’t know what else to say.
Surely it features a training montage scene?
A Snake Plissken getting tooled up montage would of been good here. Missed opportunity.
Does it feature an impossible mission?
Like the tagline says “ Breaking out is impossible. Breaking in is insane.”
Does the hero get a chance to show off their muscles?
Yes he does. Strutting his cobra and raw toughness inside a boxing ring against the brutish man mountain, Ox Baker.
Will I be needing to pause the video player? AKA are there any boobies?
If only! Oh my days! I’ve just turned on the electric fan to cool myself down for this one. Adrienne Barbeau is a human boob machine! I’m sorry but it’s near on impossible to look at anything else when she and her luscious best buddies are on screen. They are insane. They are ready to explode out at any given time. You wait, pleading with the mammary overlords to just make it happen! Pretty please! I must of been a naughty boy or something, as unfortunately the moment never arrives. Praying that somehow over all the years I’ve watched Escape From New York that possibly aliens had wiped that sweet moment Adrienne Barbeau wondrously mesmerising melons did in fact Escape From Boulder Holders. They don’t! But the imagination goes into pure overload. John Carpenter was a lucky man and must of had a fun five years plus of marriage bliss before it all went tits up!…….. PS check Swamp Thing (1982) if you know what I mean. Ok I’m sorry to anyone offended you know it’s important historical work I’m doing here right?
I’m sure Snake’s tattoo was standing to attention like a snake charmer’s hypnotized Cobra every moment Maggie walked on by!
Any good totally random surprise scenes?
There’s lots of bizarre scenes but I’ll go for the Chock Full O Nuts scene. Taking refuge in the broken down store he meets a girl in the shadows smoking a cigarette. When she works out who he is she’s informs him, like everyone else in the film, with the line “I thought you were dead?“. With a tad bit of flirting broken up by zombie like sewer dwellers attacking from the floor. The girl is played by Kurt Russell’s wife at the time Season Hubley. She recently featured on this here friendly movie site in Lolly-Madonna XXX (1973)
Films body count? Low/Medium/High?
It’s drops over into high on the dial.
Innocent baddie death rate?
Of course just lowlifes and criminals trying their best to survive the harshness of the fortress when a friendly looking cab driver lobs a petrol bomb towards you, turning you into a human fire ball!
Explosion ratio? Low/Medium/High?
Slowly builds the tension with the bridge tipping the explosion meter into the red zone.
How many stuntmen probably really died making this film?
Sure someone fell down a hole or ran into a jagged set piece sticking out.
Any cool car chases?
Well this question was made for Isaac Hayes as he pursues the yellow in his pimp mobile? They could of used it for the sound track.
Snake Plissken – “I don’t give a fuck about your war… or your president.”
Any other familiar faces and actors pop up?
The two remaining big characters not yet listed are two of the prison security guards Bob Hauk (Lee Van Cleef) and Rehme (Tom Atkins). It’s them that inject micro-explosives into Snake’s neck giving him 22 hours to rescue the Pres and get back to neutralize the explosives. Also the beginning narration is by Jamie Lee Curtis.
Escape From New York is written and directed by everyone’s favorite cult movie director John Carpenter. He also delivers the iconic soundtrack which is just perfect. Also helping on writing duties is Nick Castle who would later direct a cool little sci-fi film I loved as a kid, The Last Starfighter (1984).
Super cool effects.
The whole city was built as an awesome 3D structure. With the World Trade Center Twin Towers setting the scene for the glider to land on the roof. You can see three stages of the miniature Manhattan here.
There’s no denying there’s some cheese but it’s a wonderful tasty mild cheese like Emmental I’d say.
IMDB score rating – 7.2/10
Wolfman ACTION & FUN rating – 9/10
Wolfman over all film rating – 8/10
Escape From New York along with Assault On Precinct 13 (1976) The Thing (1982) and of course Big Trouble in Little China (1986) make up a quadruple bout of cult awesomeness of John Carpenter classics that I dearly love. Don’t get me wrong I love his other stuff as well but these four for me are my favorites. This was probably the tenth time seeing EFNY and it’s still bloody fantastic.
Feel free to let me know your thoughts on the films if you want but please don’t feel you need to as I know it’s pretty relentless this month. However, most important, have fun with the movies.
Keep it filmy…. Mikey Wolf.
Here’s John Carpenter’s soundtrack to play us out.