The Chronological Carpenter: Escape From New York (1981)

escape-from-new-yorkGood golly, has it really been NINE months since I posted about a John Carpenter movie? Well, after checking out 1980’s The Fog last fall, I actually watched the next two films in relatively quick succession (for me at least). But, I never got around to writing about those films: Escape From New York and The Thing. I wanted to get back on this train, so I watched Escape again and here we go.

escape from new york poster 1The first thing that struck me about this film is the scope. All of Carpenter’s movies revolve around strange things happening in the real world (masked killers, ghost pirates, stalkers and voodoo gangs) which create these smaller, twisted realities. But, with Escape, he’s creating a whole world. The Big Apple has been abandoned, the island has been walled off and turned into a prison. On top of all that set dressing we also have characters who all feel like they’re as lived in and sometimes legendary as possible.

And a lot of that comes from Kurt Russell’s portrayal of Snake Plissken. The man doesn’t say much, looks cool and is known by EVERYBODY (even if he’s shorten than expected). He’s also got a deep history hinted at but never fully delved into. This is a nice trick that’s played in comics when it comes to characters like Punisher, Wolverine and John Constantine where we’re impressed (and possibly scared) by them because just about everyone else is. Russell fills the role with his own presence and created an iconic character who continues to inspire comic books and toys to this day.

escape from new york poster 2Adding to that, you’ve also got the denizens of New York, one of the strangest groups of people this side of Thunderdome. Creeps, weirdoes, evil geniuses, murderers and Cabbie? Seriously, why is Ernest Borgnine in this place?! He seems so nice (except for when he ditches everyone). Questions like that might not come the first time you watch the film, but pop up the more times you check it out which broadens the world.

On the surface, it might seem like Escape is an outlier in Carpenter’s filmography because there aren’t any supernatural forces at work, but if you look a little deeper you’ve got the clear influence of westerns (lone gunman with a reputation entering a place and getting the job done), the concept of being trapped by something nefarious and Carpenter’s growing cast of actors who appeared in several of his movies like Russell, then-wife Adrienne Barbeau and Halloween‘s Donal Pleasence as the president (who gives a great latter day Loomis performance here).

 

As much as I like this movie, I have a weird relationship with it. As it turns out, I think I actually watched the sequel Escape From LA first back in high school, so there are huge portions of that movie that live in my brain because that was back when I could absorb the most information. Because of that, I kept wondering when the map seller would show up or when the basketball scene would happen. The other problem is that I seem to fall asleep during this movie more than any other. I don’t know what it is, maybe the music or the subdued performances from many of the cast members. More likely, it’s the fact that I can barely stay up past 11:30 these days. Whatever the case, I’ve started this film more times than I’ve finished it and yet I still love the opening 20 minutes which sets everything up so well. I’d love to see this one on the big screen to really feel the full force of this huge, sprawling and yet subtle at times world that Carpenter crafted.

You might be expecting me to move on to The Thing next, but that won’t be the case. Much like with Halloween, I love that horror classic a lot and, as I mentioned above, watched it not too long ago. I find its best to not overdo it when it comes to favorite horror movies because they can lose some of their power if you’re TOO familiar with them. I think it’s also safe to say that I don’t have much in the way of unique thoughts on the masterpiece of stranded, paranoid beauty he created there (plus I wrote about it a bit back in 2011). That means I’ll be moving on to Christine in the near future!

Bullet Points: Hot Rounds Of Information Goodness

kurt russell death proofKurt Russell’s in talks to join Fast & Furious 7. That’s all the information we have, but we’re stoked! [via Deadline]the-hunger-games-catching-fire-banner

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire takes the premise of the first film — children killing each other for the entertainment of a dystopian future society — and adds an all new element: old people! Check some of them out in this latest poster. [via Collider]MaxSteel_Logo

Mattel’s Max Steel property is back in development with a script by comic book and screenwriter Christopher Yost (Thor: The Dark World) and Halo: Forward Unto Dawn director Stewart Hendler. Before the property got a recent toy and cartoon reboot, Taylor Lautner was previously attached to star in a film starring the action character. [via Variety]

In other Max movie news, it turns out that the long-delayed Mad Max: Fury Road will head to Sydney for three more weeks of shooting. In the time it’s taken to make this film, old school Australian directors could have made 17 movies.  [via IF]hercules the thracian war bts wounds

We hope someone behind the scenes on Brett Ratner’s Hercules: The Thracian War is paying Dwayne Johnson for getting people to talk about this movie. As he has plenty of times in the past, the actor Tweeted out a picture of himself getting scarred-up for the film. [via @TheRock]Spartacus: War of the Damned - Cynthia Addai-Robinson

Last week we found out that Amanda Waller will appear in the upcoming season of Arrow and now we know that Spartacus: War Of The Damned star Cynthia Addai-Robinson will play her.  [via TV Guide]

Finally, enjoy the above snippet from the Roger Corman-produced martial arts film Fist Of The Dragon. [via Asian Movie Pulse]