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Bluray Review: ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK

unnamed (3)Scream Factory has most certainly done a fine job of bringing a lot of John Carpenter’s filmography to genre fans everywhere. With great collector’s edition Blurays of everything from Carpenter’s PRINCE OF DARKNESS, THEY LIVE and ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13, to the complete HALLOWEEN collection and even Carpenter’s BODY BAGS anthology. It’s been great to see some of my favorite films not only being re-released with amazing new transfers and sound, and to see films like THE FOG and various other Carpenter films find new audiences and appreciation due to the resurgence that the gang at SF have helped kickstart.

Adding to the growing Carpenter lineup at SF, is today’s brand new release of the master of horror’s 1981 action classic, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK. With a brand new 2K scan of the inter-positive and an almost endless supply of supplemental material, this release is yet another must-have release in the ever growing output that Scream Factory puts out.


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THE FILM:

Creating one of the most memorable and downright badass characters of all time, John Carpenter’s 1981 classic, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK has all of the ingredients of a good Carpenter film that fans have always loved and appreciated. Dealing with a distant future (1997) in which the whole state of New York has been broken off and treated as a place to put the world’s criminals and leave them there to roam around and do whatever they please. When the president of the United States (HALLOWEEN‘s Donald Pleasence)’ plane is hijacked and crashed into the prison state, the only man crazy enough to attempt to rescue him, is Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell), a former special officers hero, who has been a criminal for quite some time. Blackmailed into accepting the job by implanting him with a device that will kill him i f he doesn’t return with the president within a certain time range, Snake goes for it, and we in turn get one of the most satisfying and completely entertaining action films of all time.

It’s that futuristic, dystopian future that sets ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK up, making it an interesting film, full of scenery that at the time, you didn’t really see all too often. Add Russell’s Snake Plissken character to the mix, and a strong supporting cast including Ernest Borgnine, Harry Dean Stanton and Adrienne Barbeau, and it’s a wild ride, full of some of the best set pieces, one-liners, and action scenes of all time.

Carpenter has always had an eye for detail and his vision (alongside his co-writer, Nick Castle) of the near future is just the downer type of wasteland that we’ve come to expect from the legendary filmmaker. Instead of flying cars and lasers, Carpenter has always focused on more of a future in which human beings are just as scary, and the destruction of everything is at the hands of man, something that always makes his films feel authentically possible and relevant. It’s easy to get on board Snake’s mission, as Russell’s performance is one of the best, bringing a Clint Eastwood-like approach to Plissken, an anti-hero who isn’t concerned with doing the right thing per se’, but just wants to get the job done and move on. It’s that kind of character that is always so enjoyable to watch, and quite easy to latch onto.

As far as the actual transfer of the film, it looks absolutely wonderful. The brand new 2k scan looks immaculate, and better than it has ever looked, with the picture cleaned up to the point of it looking like you’re watching the post-apocalyptic classic theatrically. The colors of the film stand out, and as great as it looks and is cleaned up, the practical effects of the film still hold up and look better than ever.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Like a lot of Scream Factory’s Carpenter releases, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK is given the collector’s edition treament, with two discs jam packed of enough supplemental material to keep watching for quite a while. The first disc carries over previous commentaries from John Carpenter & Kurt Russell, one with producer Debra Hill and production designer Joe Alves, and a BRAND NEW commentary with Adrienne Barbeau and frequent Carpenter cinematographer Dean Cundey.

The second disc is a great one, featuring a brand new doc about the special visual effects, complete with new interviews with a lot of the effects crew who had worked on the film, recalling the creation of many of the classic scenes, giving greatly enjoyable stories about everything from coming up with the water look in a scene, to filmmaker James Cameron working on some of the background paintings for a time. Also on the disc, is a brand new interview with Kim Gottlieb-Walker, who if you’ve picked up her On Set With John Carpenter coffee book you probably already know, was the official on set photographer for the first few films of John’s. It’s a great and insightful interview, full of fun stories from the shoot. Rounded out with a couple of carry over docs from previous releases, the deleted bank robbery scene that was the original opening for the scene and a pretty impressive photo gallery, the special features for ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK just give you collector’s yet another reason to rush out and immediately pick this gem of a release up.