Escape From New York

Escape From New York 
 
(John Carpenter, 1981)
 
☆☆☆☆
 
Reviewed by Dave Lancaster 
 
Summary: A down and dirty cult classic scrubs up nicely on 4K as John Carpenter’s Escape From New York jumps the fence into UHD territory. A must have.
 
John Carpenter was on one hell of a roll by the time he redefined what cult action cinema could look like with 1981’s Escape from New York having reinvigorated the flagging horror genre with a potent two hitter of Halloween (1978) and The Fog (1980). 
 
By now he could attract Oscar winners to his cast list in the form of a delirious Ernest Borgnine having a wild ride as a kooky cabbie and an uber cool Isaac Hayes as the film’s main villain but front and centre of it all is Carpenter regular Kurt Russell (The Thing, Big Trouble in Little China) in perhaps his most iconic role. 
 
 
Russell blends Clint Eastwood’s sadistic sneer and John Wayne’s rock solid detachment to create Snake Plissken, a near silent ex-soldier and federal prisoner who is given a shot at freedom if he agrees to an impossible (and preposterous) mission to rescue the kidnapped President of the United States (Donald Pleasance). 
 
The setting is classic Carpenter: his reimagining of New York in the (then) near future is all jaunty angles, graffiti and madness. This skewed dystopia finds Manhattan Island converted into NYC’s most revered maximum security prison - a sort of Alcatraz on steroids but left to rot whereby the prisoners run it themselves. 
 
Silly, yes, but it’s one hell of an idea for an action flick and a brilliant stage for Carpenter to rinse every dollar from his slim budget. Carpenter is always a value for money filmmaker and Escape From New York represents the gold standard of what his wonderful imagination can grant his eager audiences.  
 
 
Escape From New York looks and sounds great (especially Carpenter’s own iconic soundtrack) on StudioCanal’s 4K UHD. The collector’s set is absolutely astonishing: 
 
  • 4 discs
  • (1 UHD, 1 Blu-ray feature, 1 Blu-ray extras, 1 CD Soundtrack)
  • 1 poster
  • 5 artcards
  • 48 page book
 
Extras:
 
  • Purgatory: Entering John Carpenter’s ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK: A brand retrospective documentary produced by Ballyhoo Motion Pictures and featuring interviews with writer Nick Castle, cinematographer Dean Cundey, composer Alan Howarth, production designer Joe Alves, special visual effects artist/model maker Gene Rizzardi, production assistant David De Coteau, photographer Kim Gottleib-Walker, Carpenter biographer John Muir, visual effects historian Justin Humphreys, and music historian Daniel Schweiger.
  • Snake Plissen: Man of Honor – featurette from 2005 featuring interviews with John Carpenter and Debra Hill
  • Deleted Opening Sequence “Snake’s Crime” with Optional Audio Commentary 
  • Photo gallery incl. Behind the Scenes
  • Original Trailers
  • Audio Commentary with actor Kurt Russell & director John Carpenter
  • Audio Commentary with Producer Debra Hill and production designer Joe Alves
  • Big Challenges in Little Manhatten: Visual effects featurette – from 2015, features interviews with both Dennis Skotak, Director of Photography of Special VFX, and Robert Skotak, Unit Supervisor and Matte Artist
  • I am Taylor - Interview with actor Joe Unger – from 2015
  • Audio Commentary with actress Adrienne Barbeau & DOP Dean Cundey

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