Snaaake Plissken. I've heard of you...  



Welcome to the ultimate Escape from New York fan page, this website is dedicated to one of the greatest cult films ever made. Since 1981 when the film first opened in theaters, fans of the post apocalyptic films have been facinated by the dark and realistic vision that director John Carpenter had for the future of humanity. He also brought to life the most bad ass charcter ever, Snake Plissken, played by Kurt Russell. We have a deep admiration for what Snake stands for in a world that has gone absolutely insane, his integrtity and honor in the face of a crumbled America speak volumes as to his character. He does what's right when it benefits him, and he doesn't take any shit from anyone, and at the same time can show compassion. Those are pretty good rules to live by in any past, present, or future. We hope you enjoy this website, it will constantly be updated with photo's and information for those fans out there who love Escape from New York as much as we do. Enjoy...




                                  Computer graphic showing all the best take out spots in New York City.


       "Breaking out is impossible. Breaking in is insane!" This fact is exclaimed right on the movie poster for the classic Sci-Fi thriller “Escape from New York.” The year is 1997 the crime rate in the United States is so high that the island of Manhattan has been transformed into the one maximum-security prison for the entire country. Surrounded by a concrete containment wall 50 feet high, the former Big Apple is now rotten to the core with the worst criminals that America has to offer. Free to do as they wish within the walls of this dark imperialist dungeon, all the inmates understand the one rule that punches their ticket to this island of lost souls. Once you go in you don’t come out. However, before embarking to the prison inmates are given the option to be terminated and cremated at the Liberty Island Security Control facility, the last point between the world they once knew, and hell!

            The President of the United States played by Donald Pleasance of Halloween fame, is on his way to the Hartford Summit meeting with cassette tape (How 80’s) containing very important information vital to the survival of the human race. Air force 1 is high jacked by very disgruntled terrorists who then crash the airliner into a building inside the perimeter of Manhattan Island. The U.S.P.F. rush to the scene and are met by Romero played by Frank Doubleday. He portrays the right hand man of “The Duke of New York (The head honcho to all the gangs in the prison) played by the late great Isaac Hayes. Romero is just one of the crazed inmates inside the city that never sleeps, and gives the viewer a glimpse of just how dangerous this dark world really is. His mere presence with his weird hairdo and strange mannerisms sets the tone for the rest of the film. And just for the hell of it gives the fuzz the finger. The Presidents finger that is, wrapped in a bloody handkerchief with the Presidents ring still on it. Nice touch!   He then gives the cops 30 seconds to leave town, or the President will die. False bravado, or too much Aqua Net? I say it’s his pointy teeth. So with no choice in the matter they all get back in their choppers and vacate.



             We then see the arrival of everybody's favorite bad ass anti-hero "Snake Plissken" played by Kurt Russell. An ex Special Forces war veteran turned criminal mastermind. He fought for his country in Leningrad and Siberia and was repaid with a double cross, and witnessed the murder of loved ones at the hands of the U.S.P.F.  Essentially Snake is the product of the American Government. They turned it’s back on him, so he turned his back on society. He just didn’t give a shit anymore. The audience gets it's first glimpse of cool personified as he gets off the prisoner transport ( A courtesy bus when it was the new thing ) He is walked across a portion of the Sepulveta Dam ( L.I.S.C. ) by U.S.P.F. guards and brought the the entrance which lead to the underground police base.


            After robbing the Federal Reserve Depository in Denver Colorado, Snake and his partner Taylor arrived at the San Francisco train terminal were Taylor was shot and killed by the U.S.P.F, and Snake had no choice but to surrender. This scene was not in the final film as it gave Snake a compassionate side which was not in the characters original make-up. It was shown at an advanced screening and Carpenter removed it before the films official release.





            Snake was being escorted through the Security Control Center and was about to be processed to enter the prison when he was intercepted by the duty sergeant and brought to the Police Commissioner "Bob Hauk" played by spaghetti western tough guy Lee Van Kleef. Hauk, who is also ex Special Forces himself, and offers Snake a full Presidential pardon to go into New York City, find the President and get him out of the prison alive within 24 hours and he would be a free man. There was a sinister catch, however. Snake was injected with two microscopic explosives in the arteries in his neck. In 24 hours they would explode and kill him, so he had to complete the mission whether he liked it or not, the only other option was death. He was briefed on his mission, given an arsenal of kick ass weapons, and was brought to a landing strip where he was to use a jet glider to stealthily infiltrate the prison by landing on the roof of the World Trade Center. When he’s in the cockpit of the glider there is dialogue had obviously been inserted, and didn’t make any sense at all. In the novelization Snake asks Hauk which was more important the tape, or the President. Hauk leans toward the tape. In the movie Snake says “Suppose he’s dead Hauk, if I come back without him you’ll burn these things out?” Hauk replies, “Get em both back Plissken.”  If you have never read the book before, that dialogue exchange doesn’t make any sense at all. Just incase you were wondering.



           Snake takes off in the Gulf Fire and flies toward the prison in just an awesome piece of movie making. The special effects in this scene are just marvelous blend of models, matt paintings and actual footage. The simulated computer graphics inside the glider were cutting edge back then, and still hold up nicely today. In my opinion they look more realistic than any CGI effect I have ever scene in today’s movies. James Cameron was the wizard behind the curtain, and made the effects in Escape just stand out.     

         Original storyboard drawing ( 1 )                                Matte painting by James Cameron ( 1 )          

                      Original storyboard drawing ( 2 )                                Matte painting by James Cameron ( 2 )


                                                        The best meter free parking spot in New York

              Once on the roof of the Trade Center Snake would descend on the streets of  New York in search of the President who was the only key to his survival.What an idea! When the movie was being filmed in 1980 NYC was still riddled with crime and Times Square was a haven for drugs, graffiti, hookers, porn and everything else that was not kosher to society. So the premise that some seventeen years into the future that the greatest city in the world would become everything envisioned by the movies director John Carpenter did not seem that far fetched. The film was shot in St. Louis in a section of town that was ravaged by fire in the mid- 70's. The shooting location resembled large sections of the South Bronx that just looked like a wasteland well into the 1990’s. But because filming in NY was not in the budget St.Louis opened its arms to the production and principle photography began.


 The World Trade Center, as well as the Chock Full-O-Nuts sets were both built in Indian Dunes California. Among a few other locations in Southern California, one being the famous Sepulveda Dam (Liberty Island Base) this film in a way is a tale of three cities. There were a few scenes, which were shot very quickly on location in New York, where you can obviously tell because the actual Statue of  Liberty is in frame and a shot of the WTC and NY Harbor at dawn. When it was all edited together the end product was a work of art.


There was a lot of cinematic slight of hand in putting scenes together; one in particular was right at the beginning of the movie. There is the scene when Rheme played by Tom "Thrill Me” Atkins is walking to a security booth on Liberty Island. He enters the booth and answers a phone, a U.S.P.F. Soldier walks away from him and the camera keeps panning slowly to the right where it reaches a dark shadowy area. Once in the dark area, the camera is stopped and later another scene was shot at Sepulveda Damn, where the camera continues panning to the right and comes out of the shadowy area and we see the soldier exit the door on the other side of the booth and it looks like one continuous shot. That’s what I call movie making at its finest.




Above is the movie poster for the movie, it just happens to be my favorite movie poster ever, even though it makes no sense at all that Lady Liberty's head is smack in the middle of the street, that would've sucked big time during rush hour traffic. The inmates chasing Snake & company look like The Village People holding, axes, bats, clubs and many other cool weapons that could be had by looting the neighborhood five & dime just down the street.


Escape from New York  was just one of those movies where timing was everything, with the state of world affairs in termoil and New York city being the epicenter of filth it was the perfect time to make this film. You either liked it,or hated it. I absolutely loved it and I went to the movies in 1981 not knowing a single thing about it. I went to see the movie "Tron", which was the first movie in a double feature that I saw that day. Tron was an incredible movie in it's own right,but I have never seen anything like Escape from new York before. At thirteen years old I have never seen an R rated movie before. Then the coolest charcter in the universe came on the screen and was so bad ass and he cursed. "I don't give a fuck about your war, or your President." Just they way he said it and how he owned the screen was awesome. I knew I was in for a hell of a ride when he took off in the glider and was set to land on the roof of the World Trade Center! The effects were mind blowing and still manage to impress me every time I see it.


The mucic was incredible facet of this movie as well. John Carpenter sure knew how to score a movie and he did an awesome job on Escape, the music is intense,eerie and showed the urgencey of the situation like no other movie that I can remember.  John Carpenter was truly a master,unfortunately he seemed to have lost his touch somewhere along the road and starting spewing out really bad movies like Ghost's of Mars and most regretably Escape from L.A. I believe that he waited way too long for another Escape movie and really should have made the next one when he was filming "Big Trouble in Little China". A charcter like Snake doesn't come along very often and you have to strike while the iron is hot.  Debra Hill was the driving force behing Escape and had several projects in the works including a short lived comic book and video game when she passed away from cancer. May God rest her soul. I guess that an Escape franchise was not to be and that is a real shame, there is just so much potential there.








Here are two photographs that are most likely publicity shots of an Indian sneaking up behind Snake with a garrote; one actually shows him putting it around his neck. Set photographer Kim Gottlieb-Walker confirmed that the scene was in fact shot because she took the pictures.



         It's a shame that this footage is probably lost forever, along with others scenes rumored to have been shot as well. There are other pictures that have appeared on German lobby cards of Snake running away from the World Trade Center, this photo also made it’s way into an issue of Starlog Magazine. There is also a companion shot in this set of Lobby cards that shows a gang of thugs chasing after him.


         You can easily tie up what it says in the novelization about the above mentioned scene and the visuals in the lobby cards and publicity stills, as concrete proof that the scene where Snake gets jumped inside the W.T.C had actually been shot. There is another picture of Snake running outside the building that was used as Madison Square Garden in the movie in the scene where he fights “Slag” played by wrestler "Ox" Baker. This photo depicts what happens right after Snake leaves the arena on his way to the W.T.C. 




                                                 EFNY Props


It’s a shame that in the age before DVD’s with special features chocked full of extra’s including tons of deleted scenes and actor commentaries, that better cataloging wasn’t inherent in movies like Escape from New York. Take Star Wars for instance, there are entire warehouses full of archival material for the original trilogy and scores of books with reference photo’s in an encyclopedia style format available everywhere. There is not a whole lot available anywhere when it comes to Escape from New York. Very rarely does something show up on Ebay that might raise an eyebrow,or two. There have been the little model's of buildings that were used in the film, and on occasion original, or copies os storyboard drawings and a diagram of the Chain of  Rocks bridge in St. Louis which doubled for the 59th street bridge in the movie. Other than that it seems that the well is not that deep. That is what made searching for the jacket and the rest of the props that Russell used in the film so damn hard.

          The boots were probably the hardest thing to identify, as no good photographs exist showing the details of the the most awesome footwear ever to grace the silver screen. For years people thought that the boots were Alpine Stars because of the metal shin plates that are the first thing you can make out on Snake's boots. Another misconception was that they were probably Sidi Fullbores.

          The Alpine Star Highpoints below are from my personal collection and are almost the exact style used in the movie Mad Max and worn by the charcter "Goose" I had them re-soled with Vibram soles that look a little closer to the ones used in the film. And ofcourse the new sole makes it alot more comfortable to wear and walk in ,as a steel shank in the original sole made it very hard to walk down the street.

          The Sidi's are the exact boots used in the 70's Television show Battlestar Galactica. As you can see from the photo's these boots had seven buckles running down the sides with shiny metal latches,and that makes them look alot like Snake's. Even though these boots were made between 1977 and 1979 they look very futuristic.

                        Alpine Stars                                                                             Sidi Fullbore


Another really cool prop was the life clock that Snake wore around his wrist for most of the film. It lit up and showed how much time he had left before the explosives in his neck would detonate and kill him. The movie prop itself did not really work, it was a digital LED counter that was hooked up to an external battery with wires that ran up Russell's arm. With movie smoke and mirrors it appeared that the clock was all self contained unit that actually worked. This was not the case.


          The other props include Snake's walkie talkie and the little device he uses to attempt to track down the President. These were fairly easy and common knowledge among Escape from New York as well as prop fans alike. The walkie talkie was a Fannon  kids walkie from the 70's. It was painted over with black & silver paint for use in the the film,and it actually looked futuristic and it was small enough to wear on his belt with the flimsy little belt clip on the back panel of the unit.

 The tracker that Snake used to attempt to find the President was a sub marine game made by Tiger electronics in the 70's as well. The bottom half had periscope handles, this section was cut off the unit until only the little square box was left. Electronics were mounted to the inside with LED lights and a board for beeping sounds to make the unit appear that it actually did somthing.  How cool!


Prop used in the film                                 The actual game                         The games original packaging



Above is a picture of me in my complete Snake plissken costume. I wear it to Sci-Fi and Horror conventions and the annual New York City Halloween parade. I am very proud of this accomplishment as Escape from New York is my all time favorite movie, and Snake is the the most badd ass anti-hero ever to grace the silver screen. 


                    Going somewhere, how much time do you have left?



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