Escape from New York (1981) Kurt Russell Is Snake Plissken The Coolest 80’s Sci-Fi Hero Of All Time?

Escape from New York (1981) vhs cassette kurt russell 80s action cult film video rental

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.

Escape from New York (1981) kurt russell awesome john carpenter prison captured

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.

Escape from New York (1981) kurt russell cult movie john carpenter gun 80s action

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.

Escape from New York (1981) Escape From New York (1981) Donald Pleasence wig prisoner Harry Dean Stanton sci-fi

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.

Escape from New York (1981) isaac hayes harry dean stanton and adrienne barbeau

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.

Escape from New York (1981) harry dean stanton and adrienne barbeau sexy lovely boobs

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?

Sex scene?
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)

Escape from New York (1981) Lee Van Cleef 80s action

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.

Best lines
Snake Plissken –I don’t give a fuck about your war… or your president.

Escape from New York (1981) kurt russell awesome art poster 80s action

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.

Production Credits
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.

Cheese-O-Meter! Low/Medium/High?
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

Closing thoughts………………………………………….
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.

14 thoughts on “Escape from New York (1981) Kurt Russell Is Snake Plissken The Coolest 80’s Sci-Fi Hero Of All Time?

  1. Is Snake Plissken The Coolest 80’s Sci-Fi Hero Of All Time? Well…it certainly isn’t that whiny-ass Luke Skywalker.

    By the way, Adrienne Barbeau was an important part of my puberty.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha 😂 yes I agree on whiny ass Luke. Though he’s better in Return Of The Jedi with his weird ass make up covering his motorbike accident mashed up face lol…. Han Solo has a better shot in the cool scifi hero Olympics!

      Ditto on Adrienne (damn to have a time machine and buy shares in kleenex tissues!!!!!!)


  2. I’ll just come right out and say it – I regard ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK as and out and out masterpiece! Every frame of this movie is perfection and I am proud to say it occupies hallowed turf in my DVD cabinet.

    Featuring one of the all-time classic endings of any movie ever, I could list literally a hundred things I like about this movie. For the sake of brevity I’ll settle for just three –

    (1) Isaac Hayes eye twitch
    (2) The song cabbie (Ernest Borgnine) played on cassette in his taxi (that features as a twist at the end)
    (3) The line from Snake when he replies to Hauk’s inquiry over the two-way about what he’s doing inside the cramped driver’s compartment of the glider while navigating it to land on top of the World Trade Centre – “I’m playin’ with myself!”
    Totally cool crack up!

    If I was forced with a gun to my head to nominate just one scene in amongst scores of standout scenes it would be the sight of a petrified Donald Pleasance as the President being made to recite over and over the line “You’re the Duke of New York – You’re ‘A’ Number One ‘ as Isaac Hayes takes pot shots at him lined up against the wall, to the cheers of his feral goon followers.

    And as for your ‘historical work’ Mikey – you just keep on doing what you do best keeping us all ‘abreast’ of the standout moments in these movies. I for one really appreciate it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ll be back with a reply soon . Glen this is an awesome comment and I just can’t find the time to reply proper just yet. I nearly at the end and will be catching up with all comments soon. I really appreciate them… Mikey


  3. Saw this at the theater back in ’81, and had a blast…and watched it again recently, and still had a blast. With this, The Thing, and Big Trouble in Little China, I became a solid, dyed-in-the-wool Kurt Russell fan (and yes, I’m a fan of The Last Starfighter, too).

    Oh, Miss Barbeau…a definite JMQ in this one, but sadly, no VMQ…but there’s got to be a director’s cut, or a European version, or SOMETHING out there somewhere that delivers the goods!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I saw this alone, had a great time, had a huge crush on Kurt, of course. But that started after I saw him in The Computer Who Wore Tennis Shoes, lol !!!

    It was the “idea” of this movie, “escaping” from New York, Miracle on 34th Street, Taking of Pelham 123, Manhattan, and The French Connection that made New York very alluring to me and seduced me into moving there in the late ’80s.

    Don’t forget Breakdown, Captain Ron, and Soldier, where Kurt got the ol’ bod back into shape one last time! I love the scene where the lady’s hugging him and he’s so emotionally tamped down and damaged, he can’t hug her back, just stands there shaking….

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are in good company Stacey, I’m happy to say I’ve had a man crush on Kurt from my first time seeing this and The Thing…… Oh come on! The film not his……….

      “The Computer Who Wore Tennis Shoes” what the hell is this. Pops back from looking.
      Haha I’d never heard of that. I’d seen The Strongest Man In The World at Saturday film club as a kid but never realised it was him. Never knew Kurt had done a series of films as Dexter? I also didn’t know he was a Disney kid/young man. Wow you learn something new each day.

      I love that thought on “escaping NY” and those films that intrigued you to the bright lights, big city. I’d love to go one day. Not really interested in the “main” landmarks but wanna go to record shops, drink beer, eat tons and mainly wander around with my camera. One day I’d love to wander around as much of America as possible.

      I’ve never seen Captain Ron!!!!! Breakdown was terrifying and a brilliant suspenseful thriller. Solider was part of my last years month of Jan. That was a great scene you write about.

      Ps Thank you for the ace comment and please forgive my late reply, I was “emotionally tamped down and damaged, I couldn’t reply back and just stood there shaking…” 🙂


  5. Haha, nice Soldier write-up. I love the freeze-frame on Kurt’s military background where he “could have bumped into Leon or Roy Batty,” lol ! ! !
    The Thing the MOVIE, not his……….!!! Hahahaha
    Oh, BTW, you have. to. see. Captain. Ron.
    He is hilarious in that. You HAVE to see it. And then do a review, of course. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Great review Wolfie 🙂 I agree with everything you have just said even though my ranking of director John Carpenter’s great films is a little different – though The Thing is in my top 5. I also agree with your take on Adrienne Barbeau – a perfect combination of intelligence, sass, sexiness and wit. Speaking of Escape from New York, this is another Moviedrome film that you can now check off 🙂 Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

    P.S. in case you are interested, here is a link to my favorite John Carpenter films 🙂 Enjoy 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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