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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 33.33%
Average: 9.52%
Pretty Bad: 3.57%
Total Crap: 5.95%

5 reviews, 54 user ratings

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Escape from New York
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by Scott Weinberg

"Classic 80's silliness and action from good old John Carpenter."
4 stars

Another one of those early eighties movies that is remembered rather fondly. Kurt Russell stars as Snake Plisskin (what a name!) who is blackmailed into rescuing the President, who was aboard Air Force One as it crashed in New York. Unfortunately for all involved, New York is now a maximum security prison, filled with all kinds of freaks, sluts and lowlifes, and Snake kills almost all of them, even his friends.

Equal parts comic book, dark comedy and straight violence, Escape from New York is yet another minor classic from genius John Carpenter. His first non-horror movie has some great lines (mostly supplied by fiercely clenched star Russell), wacko characters (Ernest Borgnine at his most ingratiating, Adrienne Barbeau as yet another tough-talkin' floozy, Harry Dean Stanton as a sycophantic toad, Donald Pleasance as an overtly whiny President, and Isaac Hayes as one nasty[/] head villain), a tight story (he has 12 hours to make the rescue, as the cops have implanted him with a nasty time-released poison), a few great action sequences (love the spiked baseball bat), and the trademark of Carpenter's best movies: his music.

It's essentially any old western, updated in a nasty, hellish setting. So many components of this movie have been ripped off, it deserves to be a footnote for any futuristic action movie. Carpenter also gets points for the few moments of political satire also, fully enjoying the fact that he has turned New York into a giant, festering prison. Strange loonies roam the streets, put on shows in huge crumbling theaters, and some even grab pretty young girls to cannibalize. (Nasty scene there.)

Russell hits the right notes with Plisskin, making him so contemptuous of anyone in authority, that we immediately love him. He growls, mumbles, curses and shoots people, barely pausing long enough to mumble some smart-ass 'hero line'. The plot races along, with Snake quickly on the President's trail, only to meet up with these big smelly hoodlums who pretty much run things in New York. (Not too unlike today. Carpenter the visionary.)

He slowly builds a slovenly-looking team of prisoners to assist him, but you know how sidekicks turn out in movies like this: Stomped, shot, blowed up, stuck with knitting needles, and basically just given dramatic deaths, so we hate the villains that much more. It's all done firmly tongue-in-cheek ) and with a good deal of style. Unfortunately, Carpenter must have gotten into some tax trouble, because he decided to do a sequel like 15 years later. Any fifteen minutes of the original is better than Escape from L.A., unless you're a big fan of stupidity.

A childhood fave, which is creepy considering how violent it is. Once again, Carpenter pushes all the right buttons and delivers a funny, clever and exciting movie. It may look somewhat familiar now, but keep in mind that it was pretty damn influential to young Italian filmmakers with more money than talent. Hey, without Escape from New York, we'd never have gotten Steel Dawn, World gone Wild, or After the Fall of New York. Still, it's just a lot of fun.

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originally posted: 10/20/99 07:16:58
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User Comments

12/29/17 morris campbell decent best i remember 3 stars
4/29/17 Anne Selby boring 2 stars
7/21/12 Sean Harrison Carpenter's second best action movie. 4 stars
2/20/11 Ark Kickass! Classic! 5 stars
1/25/10 Chad Dillon Cooper Neat idea. Good action. Call him Snake. 4 stars
1/08/10 TravisN It's a bit dated, but so what? It's still an awesome movie. 5 stars
11/01/09 art "GEE carpenter WAS SO RIGHT ABOUT NEW YORK BECOMING A PRISON IN THE YEAR 1997" 1 stars
11/10/08 Otis A ticking clock sci-fi thriller. 4 stars
6/02/07 al smith plissken what a cool dude.they sure dont make em like this anymore 5 stars
3/24/07 action movie fan passable, somewhat corny the thing was far better 3 stars
3/21/07 Brett l. Nash I sure wish they would make a third and fourth escape snake is one bad ass mofo 5 stars
2/18/07 David Pollastrini one of carpenter's best 5 stars
10/23/06 gccc One of the best horror/scifi films ever, Carpenter/Russell at their best 5 stars
10/04/06 K.Sear Why do people view this as such a classic? It's completely aimless!!! 1 stars
9/13/06 David Cohen Moronic, even for a Carpenter film 1 stars
9/13/06 Booksworm I love 80's movies. I love action movies. I like Kurt Russel. Do the math. 5 stars
8/26/06 mike Just watched it... 1 stars
6/11/06 movieguy cool cast but only so-so film 2 stars
5/26/06 Mike Cult Classic - Carpenter's Future approach is a must see, if u like his style 5 stars
1/06/06 JM Synth One of film's most memorable badasses in a less memorable (thoug influential) movie 3 stars
12/01/05 MrsVoorheesBabyBoy A Great Cult Classic 4 stars
9/14/05 ALDO Kurt Russel with an eye patch and a limp, plus John Carpenter synth music. This is cool. 4 stars
5/15/05 Indrid Cold Annoying cheesy 80s look, but a few awesome scenes. 3 stars
1/17/05 Jeff Anderson KURT RUSSELL AND JOHN CARPENTER BOTH ROCK!!!!! Say what you will about this film, it RULES! 5 stars
6/10/04 R.W. Welch Generic actioner has numerous imaginative touches. Avoid the LA version. 4 stars
4/11/04 American Slasher Goddess Interesting and original.Russell is a standout as Snake Plissken. 5 stars
11/28/03 john Snake Plissken may just be the colest american movie hero - fun and very atmospheric 5 stars
10/28/03 Mhen Russell is intense,riveting w/serious attitude never equaled in his other movies. It's A#1! 5 stars
9/06/03 Mr. Hat Very interesting plot and ideas, good cast, nice score. Snake's a tad overrated, though. 4 stars
5/22/03 mr. Pink Overrated! Mildly fun because of the eccentric cast of supporting players 3 stars
4/15/03 Dr. Bitterpants As always, John Carpenter somehow gets an A budget to make a mediocre B movie. But Me Likes 3 stars
4/05/03 y2mckay Woefully dated, godawful score from Carpenter - But Snake Plissken still DA MAN! 4 stars
3/28/03 Ron Simpson A classic! 5 stars
3/20/03 Jack Sommersby Original and suspenseful. Rightly regarded as a classic. 5 stars
3/12/03 Butterball Cenobite suspensful, eerie, but also humerous low budget thriller; Carpenter's apt music, too 4 stars
10/22/02 Nick Teller Incredible! You'll never see another plot like this! The best movies I've ever seen, 10/10 5 stars
6/19/02 Charles Tatum Better than the lousy sequel 5 stars
2/22/02 Girl In Chock Full O' Nuts I love this film. I just wish I could've gotten out! 5 stars
2/12/02 Snake Plissken's son Movie rocks. Wish he had killed more crazies with Mac-10, though. 5 stars
1/30/02 Rakesh Kumar Any Carpenter with Russel in it deserves 5 stars. Easily the best of 80's action movies 5 stars
1/02/02 Dizzy Dean What a crock of shit 1 stars
11/23/01 Andrew Carden Just Plain Old Simple Action-Filled Fun. 5 stars
8/17/01 Monster W. Kung Saw it as a child and totally loved it. Saw it recently and I must admit it's very flawed. 3 stars
8/06/01 E-Funk At the top of my cult list. Carpenter gives us guns, gangs, and attitude. 5 stars
4/01/01 Jesse L Pliskin, I thought you were dead! This ROCKS!!!! 5 stars
12/09/00 Destruction Worker Check out the awsome action figure of Snake from McFarlane Toys 5 stars
9/27/00 Patrick Ashmore Great lines, music, and characters 5 stars
6/30/00 Deckard Easily one of Carpenter's best. 5 stars
7/19/99 SID I'm in the minority that likes the sequel/remake better. 3 stars
7/08/99 The Bomb 69 Hard to believe it was made in 1981, awesomw 5 stars
6/28/99 Steve Bashakus Great futuristic film that kicks yer mom's ass. 5 stars
6/10/99 Homer J. Simpson I realy liked this movie,Carpenter is a genius 4 stars
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  10-Jul-1981 (R)
  DVD: 16-Dec-2003

  02-Jul-1981 (15)

  02-Jul-1981 (MA)

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