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Blu-ray Review: Escape From L.A. (1996)

After rescuing the prez from the penal colony of New York city in John Carpenter’s 1981 masterpiece Escape From New York, grizzled anti-hero Snake Plissken (a returning Kurt Russell) finds himself on the opposite end of the nation in the fantastic future year of 2013.

Of course shit has truly hit the fan in the West as well, and Snake finds himself on another suicide mission, this time involving the retrieval of a doomsday device stolen by the President’s unhinged daughter, Utopia (A.J. Langer), from deep within the bowels of L.A., which has become the new home for anyone the prez deems immoral.

Before long S.P. is B.D. in maniacs, madmen, and other assorted lunatics united under the rule of revolutionary nut-job Cuervo Jones (George Corraface) who just so happens to have shacked up with Utopia! Now all Plissken has to do is stay alive, retrieve the device, and do it in a timely fashion before the disease the powers that be injected him with shuts him down permanently!

Look, I’m not gonna blow smoke up your collective asses; Escape From L.A. isn’t as solid a picture as it’s predecessor, but goddamn is it a whole mess of fun!

First of all you get Russell returning to his iconic role of Snake, and he definitely hasn’t lost a beat in the decade and a half between installments. He’s every bit the over-the-top badass that we loved the first go around, and he gets to show off that fact in plenty of crazy action set-pieces.

Also of note is the supporting cast made up of genre vets such as Pam Grier and Bruce Campbell (all hail The Chin!), as well as turns from great performers such as Steve Buscemi, Cliff Robertson, Stacy Keach, Peter Fonda, Robert Carradine, and Valeria Golino… hell even Al Leong shows up as top-shelf henching was required.

Intact is the dark humor and satire that ran through Escape From New York, but here it’s amplified to a much larger degree… and while that is enjoyable, it definitely undercuts the grim and dour vibe that made the original so damn special.

Also on the negative side, this film strives to hit many of the same beats as the original which makes the film a bit on the predictable and overly familiar side (the same problem that plagued Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars from 2001… itself a remake of his 1976 picture Assault on Precinct 13).

And that’s Escape From L.A. in a nutshell… but that’s not all we have to talk about as the fine fiends over at Scream Factory have included some bonus content on this Blu-ray release of the film!

Included are: interviews with Keach, Campbell (via telephone), actor Peter Jason, Corraface, special effects artist Jim McPherson, and Visual Effects Artist David Jones, the film’s theatrical trailer and TV spots, and a still gallery.

The twenty-four years since it’s release have been kind to Escape From L.A., and it’s aged into it’s own cult status quite comfortably. It’s loud, crazy, ridiculous, and most of all fun (there’s that word again), and is a solid entry in the legendary oeuvre of John Carpenter.

 

 

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