Escape from New York

Escape from New York ★★★★

Seeing Donald Pleasence maniacally spraying bullets from a machine gun is a rather wondrous moment in cinema.  John Carpenter’s movies only get better with each subsequent viewing and there’s lots to appreciate in this.  From Dean Cundy’s awesome sparse lighting where instant mood springs from the ink-black shadows to James Cameron’s superb matte paintings, the technical prowess is remarkable on that Avco budget.  Carpenter movies have their distinctive energies, with a steady, driving pulse that rarely kicks into overdrive.  This one feels even more peculiar and low key, which seems counter-intuitive to the story, but cool nevertheless.  And that’s the perfect word to ascribe this movie.  Kurt Russell’s give-no-fucks performance is very cool and iconic and all the supporting characters leave their marks (skid marks in Adrienne Barbeau’s case *ouch*).  Always love seeing Harry Dean Stanton too.  They filmed this in St. Louis, Missouri of all places, just a state over from where I grew up and boy does it manage to look like a legit shithole.  I’m hoping it was all set decoration...but then again they didn’t have a ton of money.

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