Escape From New York (1981)

John Carpenter directs Kurt Russell, Harry Dean Stanton and Lee Van Cleef in this sci-fi thriller where a convict has 24 hours to rescue the President from Manhattan… the problem is New York has been walled off and turned into a maximum security prison.

Not my favourite Carpenter / Russell collaboration. It is a little bit too caught up in world building so doesn’t deliver enough action. The mood though is oppressive and convincing. The scene where Snake Plissken and a girl wait out the sewer dwelling troglodytes is squirming with unease… when terror strikes and the chase begin your pulse raises exponentially. As with a lot of moments here it is more horror than action that fuels Escape From New York. The abandoned city design is derelict chaos. Carpenter’s score a hummable driver. Russell plays the anti-hero with a minimalist cool. There’s a brilliant cast of grizzled support faces. Their careers and non-Hollywood looks fill in their untold backstories far better than any forced line of dialogue. I always really like Escape From New York, but I’m not sure why I don’t love it?


Check out my wife Natalie’s Point Horror blog

We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here

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