What's So Great About Escape From New York?

Illustration for article titled What's So Great About Escape From New York?

Man, everything!

Game-wise, the film's protagonist Snake Plissken inspired the character of Snake from Metal Gear Solid, and even, to an extent, the vibe and look of the games. (Realize that MGS was also inspired by a huge number of other movies as well.)


Escape from New York's director John Carpenter is involved in upcoming video game F.3.A.R. Time to go back and look at what makes John Carpenter so great.

Assault on Precinct 13

Not the recent, crappy release, but the 1976 original. Influenced by Howard Hawks' Western Rio Bravo and George Romero's zombie classic Night of the Living Dead, Assault on Precinct 13 told the story of urban warfare and gangs run amuck. Carpenter had originally hoped to make a Western, but wasn't able to secure enough funding — hence, the modern setting. Carpenter did edit the film under the pseudonym John T. Chance, the name of John Wayne's character in Rio Bravo.


Halloween not only features the debut of Jamie Lee Curtis, the daughter of stars Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, but it also spawned a slew of slasher films in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s. Filmed in summer on a low budget, the crew had to carry around a bag of dried leaves to scatter in the background to give the appearance of fall. Halloween was a smash hit at the box office. That iconic score? Director John Carpenter wrote it as well as co-writing the script.


The Thing

Another Howard Hawks inspired film, The Thing is a remake of The Thing From Another World, a 1951 picture with a directing credit by first-timer Christian Nyby. (Howard Hawks actually directed the film, however.) That film was an adaptation of a 1938 novel Who Goes There? Unlike Carpenter's previous films, he did not do the score — Ennio Morricone did. The Thing, with its storyline of alien life, was pitted against E.T. and Blade Runner in theaters. It lost. The movie got a video game sequel in 2002 with survival horror game The Thing.



I remember seeing Starman in theaters when I was 6 years-old. It wasn't what I was expecting from Carpenter. It probably wasn't what anyone was expecting. That's what makes it so great. Jeff Bridges was nominated for an Oscar for his performance of an alien who landed on Earth.


Big Trouble In Little China

John Carpenter reunited with his Escape from New York star Kurt Russell for this funny, action-packed special effect-laden yarn. There is a lot more going underneath the surface of this film than film references, a John Wayne hat-tip and Chinese dark magic. The movie, however, was a box office bomb. The film has since developed well-warranted cult status. Highly quotable dialogue!


They Live

Carpenter was back in form for 1988's They Live, a pointed commentary on 1980s greed. The film stars pro wrestler "Rowdy" Roddy Pipper, who wears special glasses that enables him to see the skull-faced aliens controlling society. The movie contains memorable lines like this, which was later "borrowed" by video game character Duke Nukem.


"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass... and I'm all out of bubblegum."

That's right, you can thank John Carpenter for Duke Nukem's best line.