Escape From New York (1981) (Collector’s Edition) (Blu-ray Review)
Directed By: John Carpenter
Starring: Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine
Rated: R/Region A/1:85/1080p/Number of Discs 2
Available from Scream Factory
A thrilling landmark film that jolts along at a breakneck pace, Escape From New York leapt to cult status with high-octane action, edge-of-your-seat suspense and the mind-blowing vision of lone warrior Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) battling his way out of a post-apocalyptic Manhattan! In a world ravaged by crime, the entire island of Manhattan has been converted into a walled prison where brutal prisoners roam. But when the US president (Donald Pleasence) crash-lands inside, only one man can bring him back: notorious outlaw and former Special Forces war hero Snake Plissken (Russell). But time is short. In 24 hours, an explosive device implanted in his neck will end Snake’s mission, and his life, unless he succeeds!
And here we have a lower budget action film from the man that gave us Halloween. While it’s the early 80s and I assume it took some time for action films to really earn their titles. Escape from New York seems to let me down a little on the action side of things. Sure Kurt Russell runs around with an eye-patch and looks like a bad ass, but there isn’t a whole lot of things getting blown up. This could be a product of its time or budget, but I’ve been spoiled by other 80s action flicks. One of which Carpenter directed himself that also starred Kurt Russell, Big Trouble in Little China. I still did love the bleak and darkness the film presents, but blah, blah, blah. Let us list something for you right now. What do you think when of those roll-call of actors? Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasence, Adrienne Barbeau, Isaac Hayes, and Tom Atkins. Who cares if we see explosions every minute when you have a cast like that? That isn’t what this movie is. The movie makes a statement and shows the range of John Carpenter. From the tone to the music, there is a whole lot to love and this release from Scream Factory FINALLY shows the movie the respect it needs and the release it needs. Not to mention that Snake is of course a very cool character. Maybe the coolest we’ve ever seen of the time and now. If you dig wrestling, this was the Stone Cold Steve Austin of this time period. He’s not a bad guy, but he is perhaps not all that good either. There is layers to snake, as there are layers to the entire film if you look deep into it.
Yes, the cast is great, but they also bring to the table great characters overall to the fold. From Isaac Hayes as The Duke to Donald Pleasence as our President to Adrienne Barbeau as The Brains lover and bodyguard who has a name I can’t recall off the top of my head, but I do recall her rack looks marvelous and is well on display. Toss in some Tom Atkins being great at doing next to nothing overall here and I think it’s a safe bet to say that you will like the cast and their characters just fine. It is a cool story and we even have time for an Ox Baker role as he fights Snake to the death in a legit death-match. This is a movie that might take some time setting the stage and getting things rolling, but just as Carpenter did with Assault on Precinct 13, he manages to take something that isn’t really a horror film and make it have scenes that are still dashed with a horror flavor. I dig it, man and I think if you’ve never seen this one, you will find it better than you might expect, even if it isn’t what you probably expected it to be overall. There might not be a whole lot of action all the time here, but there is some tense and satisfying suspense and story on display. If you want to see why everyone loves John Carpenter and Kurt Russell working together, be sure to grab a copy of this one as soon as you can. Also, if you are wondering, YES, this release looks ten times better than the old bare-bones release that was hanging around your Wal-Mart a couple years back.
– NEW 2K High Definition scan of the inter-positive, struck from the original negative
– NEW Audio Commentary with actress Adrienne Barbeau and directory of photography Dean Cundey
– Audio Commentary with director John Carpenter and actor Kurt Russell
– Audio Commentary by producer Debra Hill and production designer Joe Alves
– NEW Big Challenges in Little Manhattan: The Visual Effects of ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK
– NEW Scoring the Escape: A Discussion with composer Alan Howarth
– NEW On Set with John Carpenter: The Images of ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK with photographer Kim Gottlieb-Walker
– NEW I Am Taylor: an interview with actor Joe Unger
– NEW My Night on the Set: an interview with filmmaker David DeCoteau
– Deleted Scene: The Original Opening Bank Robbery Sequence
– Return to Escape from New York Featurette
– Theatrical Trailers<p>
– Photo Galleries – Behind-the-Scenes, Posters and Lobby Cards
Quality of the Transfer: 95%