‘ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK’: JOHN CARPENTER’S THRILLING, PUMPED-UP RIDE THROUGH THE STREETS OF A DYSTOPIAN NEW YORK CITY
In the post-Watergate period of America struggling with insecurity, distrust and national embarrassment, USC-educated filmmaker John Carpenter wrote a script for a dystopian futuristic action film entitled Escape from New York, but despite his active campaigning, none of the studios wanted to back the project, calling it “too violent, too scary, too weird.” The shocking success of Carpenter’s low-budget slasher classic Halloween, however, turned the situation around, as AVCO Embassy Pictures, logically impressed by what the director managed to do in such wanting circumstances, soon offered Carpenter and his producing partner Debra Hill a two-picture deal. After making The Fog and then abandoning the planned adaptation of Charles Berlitz and William F. Moore’s 1979 novel ‘The Philadelphia Story: Project Invisibility,’ Carpenter allegedly uttered the famous sentence “I have this script in my trunk” and Escape from New York suddenly became a green-lighted film with a solid 6-million-dollar budget. Having twenty times as much money as on the production ofHalloween was a big leap for the promising filmmaker, but at the same time it still presented a huge challenge. The script expected Carpenter to create the dystopian vision of a ruined, burnt, derelict New York City. Luckily for the film crew, and extremely unluckily for the city’s residents, production designer Joe Alves and location manager Barry Bernardi stumbled upon East St. Louis, a city filled with old buildings that barely survived a devastating 1976 fire that left the town with a visual quality desperately needed for Escape from New York. After demanding five months of night-time filming, the movie was finished in November, 1980, and premiered to critical acclaim and good box office results in July, 1981. Most of the critics were charmed by the dark, grubby visuality of the picture, by a convincingly murky atmosphere, Carpenter’s virtuosity in filming action, as well as the movie’s humor and acting performances of its stars.
Written by Carpenter himself, who later brought on his friend Nick Castle, who previously played The Shape in the filmmaker’s break-out film Halloween, to do last-minute rewrites and add humor to the story, Escape from New York is one of the best sci-fi action films of the eighties and a film that steadily grew large cult following. Even though the studio preferred more experienced and reputable Charles Bronson, Chuck Norris or Tommy Lee Jones to jump in the shoes of the lead hero Snake Plissken, Carpenter stuck with his original choice, allowing Kurt Russell to break away from the image he created by starring in several light Disney comedies. In Russell’s interpretation, Plissken became one of the most famous action film characters of all time. It’s the same kind of bravery on Carpenter’s part that allowed him to cast Donald Pleasence both in Escape from New York and in Halloween. Carpenter took a risk and it paid off brilliantly. Besides Russell and Pleasence, quality actors such as Ernest Borgnine, Lee van Cleef, Isaac Hayes and Harry Dean Stanton joined the project. Carpenter also provided the score, with the help of American composer and sound engineer Alan Howarth. Cinematography was handled by Carpenter’s frequent associate Dean Cundey, while it’s certainly interesting to note that young James Cameron worked on the film as borrowed help from Roger Corman’s New World Pictures. Cameron produced several matte paintings to simulate the New York skyline.
Escape from New York is a highly enjoyable, expertly directed thrilling ride that helped establish Carpenter’s reputation as one of the most skilled filmmakers of his generation. 35 years since its release, the film is still a visually strong exhibition of the talent of a man so knowledgeable in his field, so inspired and ahead of its time and at the same time so modest and down-to-earth, it’s a shame he doesn’t get the right opportunities anymore. ...
Saying They Live is about a Jewish conspiracy makes about as much sense as saying The Thing was secretly about illegal immigration .. and btw, Top Gun is gay now if we watched Top Gun in the 80's because of the bit when they're playing 'with the boys' on the beach with their shirts off apparently ..
These Carpenter 'fans' need to realise that Carpenter comes from the same generation as Romero who also hated yuppies and out of control consumerism, they were 60's kids ... it wasn't an accident that Romero set Dawn Of The Dead in a shopping mall for example ...
I saw They Live on its release in an actual cinema .. to be honest, I wouldn't have gone but my best mate was a huge Escape From New York fan, we were the only two people in there .. They Live reminded me of Halloween 3 - Season Of The Witch in that they both shared a fear of media broadcasts ..
John Carpenter just announced Halloween reboot on Facebook--
So you say you want a Revolution?
You want to shake things up and bring back Halloween and make it rock again?
Well so do I.
So here’s the announcement you’ve all been waiting for:
David Gordon Green and Danny McBride are joining the project to complete the creative team. David and Danny will write the script together and David will direct. I will continue in my executive producer role to consult and offer my advice and feedback as needed.
David and Danny both came to my office recently with Jason Blum and shared their vision for the new movie and…WOW. They get it. I think you’re gonna dig it. They blew me away.
I might even do the music. Maybe. It could be kind of cool.
And you’ll get to see it in theaters on October 19th, 2018.
Not sure about Green, but I've only seen his not very funny comedies, never tried his moody dramas. I did hear he and McBride were big horror fans (it was they who tried to get a Suspiria remake off the ground, but failed), and it has to be better than Rob Zombie's lame ideas.
From what I've read it's less a reboot, more a sequel, but only to the first two Halloween movies.
I would say that having Carpenter's seal of approval should be a good thing, but these days he seems to be happy to just to take the money and reputation be damned...
You know, it's not a remake. It's actually, it's gonna continue the story of Michael Myers in a really grounded way. And for our mythology, we're focusing mainly in the first two movies and what that sets up and then where the story can go from there.
Well Shepard Fairey, the artist behind the OBEY campaign, was directly inspired by They Live:
"The film, though it's somewhat silly, has a rather profound concept," he says, "which is that people don't realize they're being manipulated because they're so caught up in consumption.... They don't realize they're being controlled by aliens, who are the authoritarians."
"Really, the phrase that stuck out the most for me was 'Obey,'" Fairey says in the video.