Escape from New York (1981) Director: John Carpenter

I love John Carpenter. He does not have one sucky movie from the 80s (we won't talk about the 90s+). His vision here of Manhattan, New York City, as a maximum security prison in 1997 is bold, frightening and futuristic at its time. The plot even involves a chilling reality of things to come, as terrorists hijack Air Force One and fly it into a skyscraper.

Kurt Russell, as the alluring and John Wayne-esque Snake Plissken, is brought in to track down the kidnapped AWOL President (Donald Pleasence, a Carpenter 'staple') from the punks and thugs who now run the streets of Manhattan. Snake is a real icon of the 80s; long hair, eye patch, combat pants/near combat harems, wife-beater vest, leather jacket and boots. Snake is AWESOME. It got me thinking why Kurt Russell didn't go on to be a bigger star than he is? You can't touch him in The Thing or Escape from New York. He's the MAN.

What I love about Escape is you never know what's around the corner. What kind of weird street punk you may come across, or why you should never drive down Broadway. The characters that Snake meets are almost like those you'd find in a fantasy film, such as Legend or The Princess Bride, jokers, threats or guiding lights in the mean streets and dark corners of the City. It's especially exciting to note that two of these characters are called 'Romero' and 'Cronenberg', a nod to two of the greats from Carpenter.

Escape again demonstrates Carpenter's ability to go from a wide shot into claustrophobia within a nanosecond. We have huge, sprawling New York, then close in quickly on Snake as he gets himself into yet another perilous situation. Carpenter is also the master of 'shit going on in the background', the most famous of which is in Hallowe'en as we focus in on Laurie's relief, as Michael Myers sits up in the backgroud. Carpenter produces visual feasts and Escape is not short of this depth and attention to detail.

Props should also go to Isaac Hayes, as the blingtastic Duke of New York, and Ernest Borgnine, as the 'Cabbie', who both do star turns in this movie.

It's with a sad face that I hear it is being re-made (we won't talk about Escape from L.A). Yet another pointless remake. When the original is so good, why bother? Hollywood, stop messing, and public, stop consuming the remakes. Maybe go and see something independent and help your braincells grow a little, huh?
5/5 seemed-futuristic-at-the-time digital watches