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View Diary: Sci-Fi/Fantasy Club: New Taboos by John Shirley (15 comments)

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  •  'Escape From New York' (16+ / 0-)

    There's been some talk of remaking it, but John Carpenter's 'Escape From New York' is a cult-classic of the "future prison" story genre.

    In many ways, it's a late '70s/early '80s reaction to urban decay and cynicism towards society, with Kurt Russell's Snake Plissken being the template for any antihero who just doesn't give a fuck about anything other than surviving.

    In 1988, the crime rate in the United States rises four hundred percent. The once great city of New York becomes the one maximum security prison for the entire country. A fifty-foot containment wall is erected along the New Jersey shoreline, across the Harlem River, and down along the Brooklyn shoreline. It completely surrounds Manhattan Island. All bridges and waterways are mined. The United States Police Force, like an army, is encamped around the island. There are no guards inside the prison, only prisoners and the worlds they have made.

    The rules are simple: once you go in, you don't come out.

    Set in the "future" of 1997, the United States is in the middle of World War III with the Soviet Union, and terrorists have crashed Air Force One into the country's maximum security prison; New York City. The President has been taken captive by the inmates, with the President carrying information about a breakthrough in nuclear fusion that may allow for peace between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Convicted criminal and ex-special forces soldier Snake Plissken is offered a pardon if he can retrieve the President, the information, and bring both out of New York City in 24 hours.

    Carpenter originally wrote the screenplay for 'Escape from New York' in 1976, in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal. Carpenter said, "The whole feeling of the nation was one of real cynicism about the President. I wrote the screenplay and no studio wanted to make it" because, according to Carpenter, "it was too violent, too scary, too weird." He had been inspired by the film Death Wish, which was very popular at the time. He did not agree with this film's philosophy but liked how it conveyed "the sense of New York as a kind of jungle, and I wanted to make a science fiction film along these lines."

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