Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasence, Isaac Hayes, Harry Dean Stanton and Adrienne Barbeau

John Carpenter

Running Time:
99 mins

Out to buy on DVD 17/10/05

"Call me Snake"

In the not too distant future the crime level will increase by four hundred percent turning the US into a police state. To cope with all the criminals, the once great city of New York is turned into the country's maximum-security prison by surrounding Manhattan Island with a fifty-foot wall. Once you where sentenced you would never get out. When terrorists take over Air Force One and crash it into New York, the president escapes and is held for ransom by the prisoners. Police Commissioner Bob Hauk (Van Cleef) is given twenty-two hours to get him out before a world summit collapses so he forces the only man who can complete the job, Snake Plissken (Russell).

John Carpenter was the cult director of the 70s and 80s and with hits like 'Halloween', 'The Fog', 'Assault on Precinct 13', 'Starman' and 'The Thing' but chief amongst these was 'Escape From New York'.

When it comes to defining the cinematic anti-hero, you should look no further than Snake Plissken. John Carpenter and his star Kurt Russell in 1981 created a character that would become a classic. Here we have a character that you really shouldn't like, let alone get behind. He is a man that has taken the wrong path. A once hero who choose a criminal path and is about to be punished for his crime, is forced into the task with only the threat of death pushing him to do the right thing. He isn't your all-American hero, he is selfish man who is driven to save his own skin and the only way he can do this is to save the day.

Made for absolutely no money, this is a visually impressive look at an alternate version of the US that many people thought might become a reality in the early 80s. The film's only draw back is the time frame that immediately dates the movie because it is set in 1997 but this aside it is a still a fascinating look at an apocalyptic vision of the future. The idea of transforming on the world's biggest and greatest cities into a prison is a brilliant concept and Carpenter and his team transform the Big Apple into a war zone. Ruled by the prisoners, the city is character of its own as the team recreate famous settings that are now on the verge of disintegration.

Key to the success of the film is the ensemble cast. Along with the brilliant creation of Snake Plissken, Carpenter and his creative team have gathered together a set of memorable characters. Veteran actor Lee Van Cleef brings some class to the production as Police Commissioner Bob Hauk. His scenes with Plissken really set up the movie and his presence brings something more to the film. Ernest Borgnine's Cabby brings some fun and comedy to the film. Harry Dean Stanton and Adrienne Barbeau reluctantly help Snake achieve his mission as Brain and Maggie. Donald Pleasence looks suitably presidential as the US commander and chief. Isaac Hayes plays the Duke of New York with just the right about of menace to make his a decent villain.

'Escape from New York' lacks the big action sequences and story development that the excellent characters and premise deserved but you can see why the film has become a cult classic. The reason is Snake Plissken and this is because he is one of the best cinematic anti-heroes ever to grace the silver screen.


Presented in Widescreen 2.35:1 Anamorphic with Dolby Digital 5.1 and dts soundtracks, the transfer is very good.


Feature Commentary with John Carpenter and Kurt Russell
The director and star of the movie come together to reminisce about the making of 'Escape from New York'. This chatty and informative commentary sees the two collaborators and friends covering most aspects of the film's production. Revealing how the film came about, casting and the problems of budget restrictions this is a very good commentary from two people who really love the movie.

Feature Commentary with producer Debra Hill and production designer Joe Alves
This is a more technical commentary from long time Carpenter collaborators Debra Hill and Joe Alves. They talk extensively about the about the St Louis shoot and how they made the derelict areas of that city look like the famous locations of New York were the story was set. This is a good commentary that reveals many secrets about low budget filmmaking in the 1980s.

Return to Escape from New York (23.01 mins)
Writer/director John Carpenter, co-writer Nick Castle, producer Debra Hill, production designer Joe Alves, director of photography Dean Cundey and stars Kurt Russell, Adrienne Barbeau, Harry Dean Stanton and Isaac Hayes come together to reminisce about 'Escape from New York'. The group talk about the St Louis shoot, which filled in for New York and creating the look and style of the movie. They also discuss working with Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine and Donald Pleasence and the main characters of the film. The visual effects and fight choreography of the movie are also discussed. This is a decent featurette that will please fans of the film.

Original Bank Robbery Opening Sequence (10.54 mins)
Watch the original opening that shows how Snake Plissken was captured and ends up on the way to New York.

Snakes Bites, Theatrical and Promo Trailers (4.49 mins)
Watch the promotional and montage trailers that were used to promote the movie.


This is a descent DVD package for the cult classic. With two commentary tracks and an informative featurette, fans of the film should be pleased with the package. The inclusion of a dts track is also a very welcome one making this the best version of the film you will see.


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