In 1981, the sci-fi action movie, Escape from New York hit cinema screens. The film starred Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, and Donald Pleasence, and told the story of a former Special Forces soldier (and convicted criminal), sent on a deadly mission.

Set in the then near future of 1997, in a world where Manhattan had been transformed into a maximum-security prison, Escape from New York focused on Snake Plissken and his efforts to rescue the US President. In the story, the President is kidnapped by a crime boss, and it is up to Plissken to save the day – whether he wants to or not.

If you’re a fan of Escape from New York, then you know what a great action movie it is. But what else do you know about the film?

In this post I am highlighting nine facts about the movie, which will provide you with some additional details. These little nuggets of information should offer a greater insight into the picture or simply highlight a few points you may have missed.

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The write stuff

Escape from New York was directed by John Carpenter and written by both Carpenter and his friend and colleague, Nick Castle.

Carpenter and Castle had previously worked together on Halloween (1978), with Carpenter on directing duties and Castle playing the role of Michael Myers.

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Halloween too

The opening of Escape from New York featured a small piece of narration which helped to set the scene. The actor providing the narration was Jamie Lee Curtis, who performed vocal duties in an uncredited role.

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One foggy night

Genre favourites Tom Atkins and Adrienne Barbeau appeared in Escape from New York in the roles of Rehme and Maggie respectively.

Both actors had previously worked with John Carpenter on the horror film, The Fog (1980) and at the time of shooting, Barbeau was also married to Carpenter.

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The Duke

The late singer and actor Isaac Hayes played the role of the villainous Duke in Escape from New York.

During his lifetime, Hayes was involved in various productions, including playing the role of Chef in the cartoon series, South Park, but was perhaps best known for composing the iconic theme tune to the movie, Shaft (1971).

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Location, location, location

Although Escape from New York was set in Manhattan, the majority of the movie was actually shot in East St. Louis in Illinois. This was due to budgetary reasons, as the production team couldn’t afford to make New York look as desolate as it needed to be for the movie, so opted to film in rundown areas of Illinois instead.

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New York, New York

In addition to shooting in East St. Louis, a few scenes were also filmed in Los Angeles. The only scene in the movie that was actually filmed in New York was the opening sequence of the movie which featured the Statue of Liberty.

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Special effects

Image: ©20th Century

World-famous director James Cameron worked on Escape from New York as part of the production team. He was responsible for some of the matte artwork used in the movie, and he was also credited as one of the film’s directors of photography.

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The music men

The music for Escape from New York was composed by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth.

Following on from Escape from New York, Carpenter and Howarth composed music for multiple Carpenter directed movies, including Christine (1983), Big Trouble in Little China (1986), Prince of Darkness (1987), and They Live (1988), as well as the Carpenter produced films Halloween II (1981) and Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982).

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Box office success

Produced on a budget of $6 million, Escape from New York was both a critical and commercial success when it hit cinema screens. The film grossed over $25 million in the US alone, and became a firm favourite with Carpenter fans.

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The legacy

Image: ©Paramount Pictures

And finally, the success of Escape from New York led to the sequel, Escape from L.A. (1996). John Carpenter returned to the director’s chair for this follow-up, while Kurt Russell reprised the role of Snake Plissken.

The cast of Escape from L.A. included Peter Fonda, Steve Buscemi, Pam Grier, Cliff Robertson, and Bruce Campbell.

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Thank you for stopping by It’s A Stampede! to read this post about Escape from New York, I hope you found it informative. For similar posts, be sure to take a look around this blog and don’t forget to check out the recommended reads below.

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