Carpenter Week: Director grows and makes an Escape from New York


After changing horror with Halloween, John Carpenter travels though a fog and prepares audiences to  Escape from New York.

When The Fog Settles

After Halloween’s runaway, John Carpenter makes two films. One’s the underrated Elvis, where he meets close friend and go-to actor Kurt Russell, and the other The Fog. The later sees the movie maverick signing a two picture deal with AVCO Embassy Pictures. The Fog eventually causes the director to reshoot a large chunk of the film after being dissatisfied with the initial cut.

After The Fog fiasco, Carpenter is ready to knock his second film for AVCO out the park. With help from Nick Castle (Michael Myers) and Dean Cundey (DP legend), the rising filmmaker begins work on his third masterpiece in less than six years. And soon, audiences will never leave New York again.

Escape from New York — Courtesy of Avco Embassy

The Name’s Plissken 

More from John Carpenter

The movie is Escape from New York. Effortlessly mixing the action genre with a post-apocalypse tale, the film again features some of the filmmaker’s staples like director of photography Dean Cundy, producer Debra Hill and marks his first feature collaboration with future action star Kurt Russell. The film again features one of Carpenter unforgettable scores.

Originally written in 1976, right after the infamous Watergate scandal, Carpenter’s film explores ideas of governmental paranoia and authoritative corruption. In the 1981 classic, the President is clearly not a good guy. Showing the true acting power of Donald Pleasence, which draws empathy from the audience despite being a bad guy (like Nixon), the film is a cautionary tale of where we’re possibly headed. In Carpenter’s world, government will be the eventual downfall of civilization.

The Duke of Cinema 

Debuting July 10, 1981 in Los Angeles and New York, Carpenter’s fourth feature makes a decent $25 million on a budget of $6 million. While not a huge success, the film scores a decent return for small outfit AVCO Embassy. While garnering generally positive reviews, the film is now seen as a cult classic. Currently, the movie features an 86% on the popular film site Rotten Tomatoes.

Escaping New York And Into Film History

In the years since it’s release, Escape from New York has become one of the most beloved and inspiring films in history. Hideo Kojima, director and creator of the Metal Gear Solid game series, based his Solid Snake on Snake Plissken. In fact, the game hero uses the alias “Plissken” in the second installment of the popular franchise. Also, J.J Abrams has said the scene in the original Cloverfield when the Statue of Liberty’s head comes crashing drew inspiration from Escape from New York’s iconic poster. These examples show how important the ’80s action movie truly is.

John Carpenter Week is now in full swing. Stay tuned for even more on the immortal filmmaker.

Next: Carpenter Week: Halloween shows brilliant tricks and treats

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