The world is full of many surprises, big and small. Why, just a few weeks ago I came home and was surprised to find a large piece of cat poop resting comfortably in my bed. Yesterday, I was surprised to find that yes, people do order hot dogs at the movie theater. And today, I was surprised to find that it was Kurt Russell's birthday seconds before I was about to watch Escape From New York for the very first time.
Now, because I sort of despise St. Patrick's Day or what it has come to stand for rather, I am most definitely not opposed to replacing St. Patrick's Day with Kurt Russell day. Who's with me? Mark it on your calendars, and don't forget you do not need to wear green but you do need to walk around with no shirt on and wear an eye patch or a tool belt or something that screams The Kurt. Got it? Good.
Like many films made in the 80s, Escape From New York anticipates the moral collapse of New York City in the future. This is most likely because Manhattan at one point did in fact resemble a very scary place. Luckily for us all, it was eventually cleaned and Carrie Bradshaw was able to safely roam the streets.
Our story begins by telling us that because the crime rate has risen to 400% which is evidently very high, the island of Manhattan has become a giant maximum security prison. There are no guards, only prisoners that have separated themselves into bums, "gypsies" (black people with chandeliers on their cars) and whores. When Air Force One is hijacked, and the president escapes out of his Air Force One escape pod, the hooligans of NYC capture him and hold him hostage. The police enlist recently captured Snake Plissken (who I'm still pretty sure was a character once in Mortal Kombat) to rescue the President and bring back an important tape. He must do it within 24 hours or he will be killed.
Perhaps what is best about Escape From New York (other than Snake Plissken which goes without saying) (By the way I WILL be saying something about Snake Plissken, so don't worry) is how utterly scummy and dirty New York really is. It has such a great atmosphere about it, like how just by watching this movie you will feel like you're covered in soot and homeless man excrement. I love how there were always people scurrying around in the background like rats and how Brain lived in the New York Public Library. Most of all, I enjoy the simple fact that if Manhattan really was left to the criminals--it would in fact fall apart. Although just once I'd love to see a depiction of this where the criminals actually turn the place into a civilized land. Enjoying cigars and brandy and talking at length about the complex themes surrounding Kafka's work. Sigh. One day.
Actually, there's quite a lot to love in Escape From New York and I'm having a hard time figuring out where to begin. I guess it's noble to start with Adrienne Barbeau whose breasts look phenomenal in this.
I don't typically make notes of such things but really, how can you not notice these? They stole the scene in every scene. You know what else I like about Adrienne Barbeau and her character? She didn't fall in love with Snake Plissken. Something tells me, if this movie was made today, Adrienne Barbeau would be shooting bad guys, having huge and nice looking boobs and then joining Snake in the end for a romantic and sexy make out scene. Or in any case, Snake would be given some female costar to form a romantic bond with that's for sure. The real Maggie may be with Brain, but she is still all business. I absolutely loved the way she confronted the Duke's car with that scowl.
Which brings up another fine point--Escape From New York doesn't sugarcoat anything. Like I said, Carpenter's New York is very ugly. People die, Snake doesn't make constant action hero wisecracks, there's no real love story, the world still sucks at the end. I love that. I love that it doesn't become something that it thinks it's supposed to become. Sometimes, I wish more movies would do that. I wish they would adopt a Snake Plissken form of thought and just say fuck it and rip apart cassette tapes.
I don't think I've officially mentioned it, but Snake Plissken is without a doubt the bees knees. Kurt Russell...
Kurt Russell you guys, just has this uncanny ability to whisk away my heart. Is it his flowing locks? The way he speaks in weird, breathy and helium like tones? Is it the eye patch? His tattoo? The fact that we don't really know anything about him except for his reputation?
Because I feel comfortable with you all, I will tell you a story. When I was little, I once got very turned on by Boba Fett.
I don't know what it was. It's not like we ever saw him without his helmet or anything, but one day I was watching The Return of the Jedi and I saw Boba cozying up to some whores at Jabba's Palace and I just felt like...I needed that Boba Fett to be my boyfriend! I was probably at least 11 years old but there I was...pining after a bounty hunter whom we later find out is a clone for the fucking storm troopers (But we don't like to mention that).
Why am I telling you this? Oh right. You see, in this moment--Boba Fett's reputation preceded him. He was a bounty hunter and I had no idea what that was. I just knew that he was BAD. The same sort of thing happens with Snake Plissken. The dude has a snake tattoo encircling his belly button for Christ's sake, he's obviously a bad ass.
Virtually every criminal inside Manhattan knows his name, and knows what he's done-- that is tantalizing.
I had more to discuss but now I'm too distracted by Kurt Russell. Damn you, Goldie Hawn.
Oh and before I forget, the sad state of affairs involving the realization that Donald Pleasance was the President of the United States and not THE Donald (Sutherland) was mostly erased the moment I saw Donald Pleasance wearing that glorious blonde wig.
Plus, the way he handles that machine gun is kind of thrilling.
Man! This movie rocks. I just remembered the bridge scene.....and the saddest day of my life aka when Cabbie kicks the bucket.
I "poured one out" for him in the form of a mini Dorito on my bedroom floor. Which I'll probably eat later because I washed the floor today thank you very much.
But yes, a big YES to Escape From New York. Which I keep erroneously writing as Escape To New York which completely changes everything about the film. Also, if your life ever really stinks....remember, it could be worse.