Escape from New York

Escape from New York ★★★★

I appreciate Escape from New York but I don’t love it. However, 70s and 80s-era Carpenter is a certified GOOD THING and owning this is a no-brainer. And I don’t mean ‘owning this’ in some kind of misguided completionist sense but ‘owning this’ because it’s John Carpenter, dammit, and peak Carpenter at that.

I watched this film four times in the space of a week – if you include watching a film with the commentary. And the Shout Factory release gives you three commentaries featuring the holy trinity of JC films: Carpenter himself, Debra Hill and Dean Cundey. Throw in Kurt Russell, Adrienne Barbeau and Joe Alves and you’re good to go.

The film itself? What a cast: Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Harry Dean Stanton and Isaac Hayes, and that’s just for starters.

The visuals are amazing, from Cundey’s classy cinematography and Carpenter’s fluid direction to the ingenious effects work that includes superb miniatures and remarkable matte paintings.

Oh, and the music. What a great score. It’s so laid back but like the best of Carpenter’s output (a nod too to collaborator Alan Howarth), the tracks are soon looping around your brain.

Anyway, as I said: I appreciate Escape from NY but I don’t love it. That’s not because it’s not a good film – it's stellar. It’s more because dystopian sci-fi actioners aren’t really my thing but having said that, this is likely one of the best of its kind.

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