‘Escape From New York’: The Action Classic Turns 35 Today!


With many years passing since it debuted in 1981, John Carpenter’s ‘Escape from New York’ turns 35 today. Help us bring in the immortal film with a celebration here at 1428 Elm.

What would you do to gain your freedom?

In 1981, Director John Carpenter, who up to this point was mostly know for horror tales (only the UK really saw Assault on Precinct 13), made a film that no one expected to be privy to. Titled Escape from New York, the film, told the tale of Snake Plissken, a con man with a unique set of skills and and an even uniquer set of circumstances.

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Tasked with saving the President of the United States captured in a New York that now stands as one big prison, Plissken must infiltrate the abandoned state, save the commander and chief, and return him within 22 hours or Snake himself will be dead. so, needless to say, Snake must slither fast is he wants to hunt chickens another day longer.

Starring Ernest BorgnineDonald Pleasence, Isaac Hayes, as well as staring Disney star Kurt Russell, Escape from New York is a film unlike any other in history. While some films have aspects in common with New York, nothing is quite like Carpenter’s original picture. The script, the direction, the performances, Carpenter’s brilliant score, the cinematography (by the masterful Dean Cundey), and the set design all make Escape from New York an unforgettable experience. So unforgettable, in fact, game royalty Hideo Kojima based Solid Snake from the Metal Gear Solid games on Snake Plissken.

Don’t believe me? Check out some of the film’s amazing dialog, written by Carpenter and original Micheal Myers actor Nick Castle:

"Bob Hauk: You going to kill me, Snake?Snake Plissken: Not now, I’m too tired.[pause]Snake Plissken: Maybe later.Bob Hauk: We’d make one hell of a team, Snake!Snake Plissken: The name’s Plissken!The Duke: They sent in their best man, and when we roll across the 69th Street bridge tomorrow, on our way to freedom, we’re going to have their best man leading the way – from the neck up![cheering erupts]The Duke: On the hood of my car!Bob Hauk: You going to kill me, Snake?Snake Plissken: I’m too tired. Maybe later.Bob Hauk: I got another deal for you. I’d like you to think it over while you’re resting. I’d like to offer you a job. We’d make one hell of a team, Snake!Snake Plissken: The name’s Plissken!"

On top of that, here are some poster concepts from the film:

-Courtesy of AVCO Embassy Pictures

-Courtesy of MGM

I’m not sure about you guys, but I simply love Escape from New York. I saw the film at a young age, and while it was the first film from Carpenter that I saw that wasn’t horror, the post-apocalyptic thriller help solidify Carpenter as one of my all-time favorite directors. New York truly is one of the best films of all time-let’s just forget about the crap 1996 sequel where Plissken must escape L.A- and every viewing is seemingly better than the last.

Next: ‘Halloween’: See John Carpenter Perform Theme Live

So lets all eat a gun-powder cake, give ourselves 22 hours to neutralizer our charges, and celebrate one of the crowning achievements in cinema. Happy Birthday John Carpenter. Happy Birthday Snake Plissken. Happy Birthday to Escape from New York. Here’s to the next 35 years.

Love Carpenter? Celebrating Escape from New York’s birthday? Let us know in the comment section below what you think of the iconic film and let’s get this conversation started.