You must have some rock and roll taste in films if you count Escape from New York as one of your favorites! Given that, there are so many little tidbits of trivia in this film that we could go on about for days. How about ten facts to get you started before you re-watch this classic?
1. John Carpenter, director of Escape from New York, stated he was heavily inspired by the book “Planet of the Damned” which featured a man who had no choice but to help the government, against his moral code, in order to right societal wrongs post-apocalyptic event.
2. Any heavy object in the film, from steel beams to manhole covers, were made from balsa wood. This was to be easily painted, have some heft but not so much as to be too complicated for actors to pick up and maneuver around.
3. Large city models were built on a soundstage in San Fernando Valley in California. The budget was justified by Carpenter promising that the same backdrops and models would be available to be resold and reused in other productions. The most well-known movie that these assets were reused in? Blade Runner. No joke.
4. The image on the poster of the iconic head of the Statue of Liberty on the movie’s poster is not actually in the film. They show the body being without the head perched upon it, but there’s no actual scene where the head is in the backdrop. This is something so talked about that it’s said JJ Abrams made sure to not make the same mistake in his film Cloverfield decades later.
5. Clint Eastwood was sought out for the role of Snake Plissken but he turned it down, when Kurt Russell was approached (after Tommy Lee Jones also turned them down) they told him about their goal of Clint Eastwood with hopes he’d understand the tone. Not only did he understand the tone, he purposely aimed his interpretation of the character in a Clint Eastwood way. And it kick-started the great Russell/Carpenter partnership!
6. Kurt Russell took his eyepatch off between takes religiously because it gave him headaches and affected his eyesight after awhile. Because of this fact, an assistant was specifically tasked with making sure the patch got back on properly before returning to set.
7. In “No surprise whatsoever” trivia: Hideo Kojima of Metal Gear Solid fame has often said Snake Plissken and Kurt Russell’s portrayal were the lead factors into his writing and direction for Solid Snake in his PlayStation video game series. So much so that Snake uses the name ‘Pliskin’ as an alias and Kojima reached out to Russell to see if he was interested in voicing the character.
8. In Italy, Snake was renamed Hyena and in South Korea he was called Cobra. This was easy to manage as it all worked out with the large snake tattoo that was on the character’s torso. They could call him whatever was easiest, but we’re still trying to figure out why Hyena. Still doesn’t make sense to me!
9. The prison guards that you can see patrolling the island or during the scene of the President’s escape pod are females extras. If there was ever an actual scuffle, male actors were used in order to not have to audio dub later in post to change grunts and shouts from female to male.
10. The first draft for the film was completed by John Carpenter in 1974. The film wouldn’t be released until 1981. I can’t even fathom the re-writes and note processes.