Side-parted, shoulder length, greasy hair. Black clad and leathered. Grizzled and gnarled, with an eye-patch over his left. Armed with an Uzi 9mm, scoped and silenced.
Mess with him at your peril.
Standing a 1980’s action hero height of 5’8″ (or 1 metre 76cm), Kurt Russell plays Snake Plissken, a former Special Forces soldier convicted of attempting to rob the Federal reserve. Offered a deal to save the President of the United States, Plissken has 24 hours to retrieve the President, his briefcase (containing bomb plans inside) and, oh yes, save the world from annihilation. All of this before a microscopic explosive in his body ruptures.
Did I mention that the President has crash landed on the prison island of New York, that he’s been captured by the self-proclaimed Duke of New York, that his finger’s been severed and that there’s a giant-assed wall all around the island? No? I meant to.
Set in the near future of 1997, Snake is the anti-hero you yearn for and that’s quite likely the reason John Carpenter’s script, a reaction to the Watergate scandal, struck a chord with so many viewers. A commercial success off the back of his iconic Halloween, John Carpenter wrote, directed, scored and did every other thing for this movie, and, yet again, created a character for the ages.
Plissken’s gung-ho, yet measured and skeptical attitude pulls the audience in and even after all these years, it still has power and allure.
Yes, there was a sequel: Escape from L.A. No, it wasn’t great, but… if you’re a fan of Carpenter and a fan of Plissken (let’s be honest, how could you not be?) you’ll watch it and take from it the best bits and conveniently forget the others.
Escape from New York is an apocalyptic tale of one man against it all, as with many stories from the futuristic 1980’s. We ache for more of these strong men and women characters, and if we can no longer find them on our video store bottom shelves, we must search through extensive back catalogues, such as Carpenter’s.
And if this episode of Carpenter’s Corner is not enough to convince you to stump up for the shiny new Blu-ray of Escape from New York (released in April 2015), here are a few more:
Co-Starring: Lee Van Cleef, Donald Pleasance, Adrienne Barbeau (she’s bad-ass), Harry Dean Stanton, Issac Hayes (Chef from South Park) and Ernest Borgnine.