Escape from New York

Escape from New York

4.0 14
Director: John Carpenter

Cast: John Carpenter, Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine


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The year is 1997. Manhattan Island is now a heavily guarded maximum-security prison, where the scum of the earth have converged. When Air Force One crash-lands in Manhattan, the president (Donald Pleasence) is held hostage by its denizens. One-eyed mercenary Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) is strong-armed into rescuing the chief executive. He is aided, not always…  See more details below


The year is 1997. Manhattan Island is now a heavily guarded maximum-security prison, where the scum of the earth have converged. When Air Force One crash-lands in Manhattan, the president (Donald Pleasence) is held hostage by its denizens. One-eyed mercenary Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) is strong-armed into rescuing the chief executive. He is aided, not always willingly, by a tough gal (Adrienne Barbeau) and a manic cab driver (Ernest Borgnine). Escape from New York was followed by a sequel of sorts in 1996, Escape From L.A., again starring Kurt Russell.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
Escape from New York was indifferently received by critics upon opening in 1981, but genre fans enthusiastically embraced the futuristic action thriller and made it a cult favorite. Director John Carpenter (Halloween) set the film in 1997, by which time -- according to the script -- Manhattan had become a maximum-security prison inhabited by violent criminals who roamed the streets in packs like wild dogs. Onetime war hero and convicted felon "Snake" Plissken (Kurt Russell) is offered a pardon, provided he can rescue the U.S. president (Donald Pleasance), whose plane has just crash-landed in the city. A suitably bleak Manhattan -- courtesy of production designer Joe Alves -- becomes Snake's personal battleground in a series of elaborate, violent set pieces distinguished by clever staging, bold stunt work, and staccato editing. Escape is also the pre-Chef highlight of the Isaac Hayes thespian ouvre, as well as a fine showcase for the considerable talents of Ernest Borgnine. Often imitated but never matched -- Carpenter's own "sequel," Escape from L.A, also fell short -- Escape from New York still merits the acclaim it won from sci-fi aficionados in '81.
All Movie Guide
John Carpenter is a cinematic virtuoso, and his talents as a writer, director, and even composer are all at the forefront of Escape From New York. Given the mere seven-million-dollar budget, the film is a technical achievement as well as a testament to Carpenter's ingenuity. These were the days before computer-generated special effects; the aerial city view, for example, was an actual physical model that Carpenter painted and filmed -- there's nothing digital about it. At the time, Kurt Russell was best known for his roles in family films, and it's safe to say that Escape sent his career in a more profitable direction. His growly performance as the eye-patched Snake Plissken is one of the more memorable cinematic bad-guy heroes. For all its strengths, the film has a rather slow pace and never really develops much suspense, even in the action sequences. Regardless, there are many great scenes and images here; the view of the unlit, desolate New York City skyline is particularly memorable. In the years since its release, the film has gained a solid cult following and given rise to many imitators, particularly on the Italian filmmaking scene.

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Product Details

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Special Features

Return to Escape From New York (Documentary); Original Trailers; John Carpenter exclusive interview; Snake's Crime (Deleted Original Intro); Commentary with John Carpenter and Kurt Russell

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Kurt Russell Snake Plissken
Lee Van Cleef Bob Hauk
Ernest Borgnine Cabbie
Donald Pleasence President of the United States
Isaac Hayes The Duke of New York
Season Hubley Girl in Chock Full O'Nuts
Harry Dean Stanton Brain
Adrienne Barbeau Maggie
Tom Atkins Rehme
Charles Cyphers Secretary of State
Joe Unger Taylor
Frank Doubleday Romero
John Cothran Gypsy #1
Tobar Mayo Third Indian
Nancy Stephens Stewardess
Steven Ford Secret Service #2
Michael Taylor Secret Service #3
Lonnie Wun Red Bandana Gypsy
Dale E. House Helicopter Pilot #1
Bob Minor Duty Sergeant
Wally Taylor Controller
James O'Hagen Computer Operator
Tom Lillard Police Sergeant
Borah Silver Theater Manager
Tony Papenfuss Theater Assistant
John Diehl Punk
Carmen Filpi Bum
George "Buck" Flower Drunk
Clay Wright Helicopter Pilot #3
Ox Baker Slag
Ron House Dancer
Alan Shearman Dancer
Rodger Bumpass Dancer
Ron Vernan Dancer
Jamie Lee Curtis Narration and Computer Voice
Steven M. Gagnon Secret Service #1
Al Cerullo Helicopter Pilot #4

Technical Credits
John Carpenter Director,Score Composer,Screenwriter
Joe Alves Production Designer
Roy Arbogast Special Effects
Barry Bernardi Associate Producer
Buff Brady Stunts
Tony Brubaker Stunts
Nick Castle Screenwriter
Thomas D. Causey Sound/Sound Designer
Ken Chase Makeup
Roydon E. Clark Stunts
Cloudia Set Decoration/Design
Dean Cundey Cinematographer
Glory Fioramonti Stunts
Larry Franco Asst. Director,Producer
Sandy Gimpel Stunts
Warren Hamilton Sound Editor
Bill Hart Stunts
Kent Hays Stunts
Eddie Hice Stunts
Debra Hill Producer
Alan Howarth Score Composer
Loren Janes Stunts
Mike Johnson Stunts
Fred Lerner Stunts
Alan Levine Production Manager
Stephen Loomis Costumes/Costume Designer
Steve Maslow Sound/Sound Designer
Mike McGaughy Stunts
Bob Minor Stunts
John Moio Stunts
Harvey Parry Stunts
Todd Ramsay Editor
George Sawava Stunts
Raymond Stella Camera Operator
Jack Verbois Stunts
Jesse Wayne Stunts
Ted White Stunts
George Wilbur Stunts
James R. Winburn Stunts

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Escape from New York 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie is kind of like ''The Road Warrior.'' But where that film was in the orange-brown desert, this takes place in a blue-black city. It is more uncompromising than newer stuff, and feels like something out of an early-80s comic book or video game. But it has weak spots. The strong mood comes at the expense of feeling for the characters. Snake Plissken definitely makes the 'cool' grade, but does not connect with the audience nearly as much Mel Gibson's ''Max.'' That said, it has good pacing, good action, and a good villian. It could probably have used more money in a few places, but it's watchable. And the plot has a quality like ''Jaws'': In a modern movie, the result would be terrible. But done 20 years ago, it feels right. If you're the type even interested in a 20-year-old, dark sci-fi action movie, you'll probably like it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A definite cult classic Sci-Fi that is dark, bleak and thoroughly enjoyable! Kurt Russell is outstanding as the over the top anti-hero Snake Plissken and has a lot of fun with the role. The story line is fairly solid and keeps you watching. And although by todays standards the special effects may be a little dated... they are still adequate. A fun no brainer for sure! Just don't see the terrible sequel Escape from L.A. It basically was a bad remake of New York and was very cheesy and almost sad to watch.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This along with 'The Thing', and 'Assault on Precinet 13' show that John Carpenter is a true cult director and at the same time make you ask ...So what happened to him?? None of his other movies have come close in quality, style or entertainment value. He just seems to be going through the in point: 'Ghosts of Mars'. Still if you want to see a creative director doing brilliant work with a low budget you cant go wrong with 'Escape from New York' or the afore mentioned titles.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This film was made in 1980 so the future is a little dated here, but in the year 1997 the world is a different place. New York is now a dumping ground for the scum of society and is guarded by the United States Police Force with high walls, a mined bridge and men with guns to prevent escapes. What bad luck for the President of the United States (Donald Pleasance) when Air Force Three is taken over by a domestic terrorist group and forces our esteemed president to eject in his escape pod and crash land in the middle of the prison. The Chief of Police Bob Houck (Western film veteran Lee Van Cleef) decides to use Snake Plisken as a means to extract the President, but puts a very tight leash on him. Snake is an eye-patch wearing, Ex Special Forces lieutenant that turned to a life of gun fighting and bank robbery and got caught during his latest scheme. Snake is about to serve a life sentence in NY for his crimes. After being offered a full pardon for his past criminal acts he is injected with a capsule carrying an explosive charge that will burst his carotid artery open if he does not get back within 24 hours with the President along with a cassette tape that must be played at a summit in Hartford, The tape is the primary reason Snake was dispatched as it has information that would be useful in the hopes of ending the current war based on a new way of creating energy with Nuclear fusion, but doing it safely. The clock is ticking and even with all the high-tech gear Snake is given, the odds are still against him. A real cult classic directed by a master of the “What if?” theory of filmmaking John Carpenter. What’s great about this version is a 10-minute additional scene that shows how Snake got captured as well as a great transfer and re-mastering process. There is also a cool audio commentary featuring Carpenter and Russell who are both old friends and seem to be having fun watching their movie together. R- Graphic Violence and profanity
Guest More than 1 year ago
heard a lot about this and finally saw it. and i was like oh so that's where the name snake came from from metal gear solid. another great john carpenter film where this is about a guy with an eye patch who heads into a crazy manhattan like prison to rescue the president with some help along the way. and of course it got kurt russell who was just awesome as well as all the other actors.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I liked Escape from New York and I wish I had had a hand in making the film. The cast is good and the dark, dangerous mood of New York was well portrayed. The bleak and dangerous theme of Escape has fortunately Not come to pass. However, the World Trade Center, used in the beginning and the end of the story, appears--today-- more haunted in that we know what happened to The Towers in 2001. There was no Snake Plisskin to stop the terrorist pilots in real life. But, as bad as our prisons are, we do not have a Devil's Island in New York or anywhere else. Obviously, the world's richest piece of real estate would never be used as a maximum security no-man's-land, regardless of the crime rate, which seems to have declined in recent years. And the movie does not deal in any depth with the criminal society inside Manhattan, except that it's a dirty,dangerous and very dark place to live. Would not disease and epidemics break out on Manhattan, where there would be little in the way of medical care? Also, the subways could not hold the &quot Crazies&quot in that the N. Y. underground would be flooded due to neglect. Also, with women, as well as men, on the island, there would be children born, many to die at birth, and the trecherous nature and mindset of John Carpenter's future American society would attract protests from both Americans and from many people around the world. These ideas probably could not have been included in Escape from New York due to time of the film. We do not sympathise with the US government and certainly not with Donald Pleasance as president and Lee Van Cleef as head of security for the island prison. Kurt Russell playing Snake Plisskin has our sympathies, in an anti-heroic way. Plisskin almost alone survives the twenty-four hour ordeal in rescuing the president from capture in the Big Apple. We like Plisskin's destroying the cassette tape so vital to world peace in the final scene. And we are relieved that our world has not become so bad as the one we see in Escape From New York. We hope our lives never will be....God help us....
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