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[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/efny_4913.jpg]]
[-[[caption-width-right:350:The original mulleted, eyepatched badass named Snake.]]-]

->''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.''
-->-- '''[[Creator/JamieLeeCurtis Narrator]]'''

''Escape From New York'' (1981) is a cult-classic action film featuring the dream team of Creator/JohnCarpenter and Creator/KurtRussell. The story is one of the classics: a rescue mission. The President's plane has crashed in the badlands, and so Police Commissioner Bob Hauk (Creator/LeeVanCleef) is forced to recruit the most {{Badass}} criminal available to go in after him. That man is Snake Plissken, and [[AwesomeMcCoolname if that name doesn't tell you everything you need to know about the character]], you probably shouldn't be watching this kind of movie in the first place. If you still need a clue, he's wearing an {{eyepatch|OfPower}}. And the only way to get him to agree to help is by putting on an ExplosiveLeash and turning him loose.

Oh, and as you may have worked out from the title, the badlands in question are the ruins of New York. Because this film is set TwentyMinutesIntoTheFuture (or rather, sixteen years, in the year 1997), and Manhattan has become a giant ruin of a penal colony, full of savage gangs and ruled over by the Duke of New York, played by the late great Isaac Hayes.

The film is a classic of the dystopian future genre, and Snake is himself a classic JerkWithAHeartOfGold AntiHero. Snake's history is mostly just hinted at, but a {{Novelization}}, now out of print, [[AllThereInTheManual fills in some of the details]].

The supporting cast includes a lineup of memorable character actors, including Creator/LeeVanCleef, Creator/DonaldPleasence, Creator/HarryDeanStanton, Creator/ErnestBorgnine, Adrienne Barbeau, and Adrienne Barbeau's cleavage, which frankly deserves its own credit.

Fifteen years later, Russell and Carpenter reunited for a sequel, ''Film/EscapeFromLA'', which dispensed with much of the grittiness to lampoon Los Angeles and Hollywood culture. It was not met with nearly the same level of acclaim as the original.

A remake of ''Escape From New York'' is currently in {{development hell}}.

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!!This film provides examples of:

%%* AbsoluteCleavage: It's ''Adrienne freakin' Barbeau''.
* ActionGirl: Maggie is pretty handy with a pistol.
* AfraidOfNeedles: Snake. "I don't like needles," he says before the physician Cronenberg injects him with a supposed anti-viral and bacterial serum. Turns out he was right to be untrusting, as the injection was actually an ExplosiveLeash.
%%* UsefulNotes/AirForceOne
* TheAlcatraz: New York Maximum Security Penitentiary, AKA Manhattan Island Prison. The only bridge into the island is mined, and the entire island is surrounded by a wall, and the perimeter is patrolled by helicopters and monitored 24/7. Escape is essentially impossible, and once prisoners go in, they never come out.
* AlternateHistory: The film's backstory and setting has become this.
%%* AmbiguouslyGay: Romero.
* AntiHero: Snake. Also counts as a UnscrupulousHero at best, and a NominalHero at worst.
* AwesomeMcCoolname: Snake Plissken.
* {{Badass}}: The protagonist of the film, Snake Plissken, is already famous for being pretty badass infiltration expert, which is why Hauk chooses him to be the one to rescue the president.
* BatterUp: Snake vs. a huge guy in a BloodSport.
* BigBad: The Duke of New York, who captures the president and uses him as a hostage in a plan to get himself and his followers out of Manhattan without being killed by the police force surrounding the island.
* TheBigRottenApple: Obviously. While the premise was far-fetched, at the time it wasn't inconceivable. By the early 80's most major American cities had seen anyone who could afford it flee to the suburbs, infrastructure was decaying, cities were bankrupt, and of course crime was out of control. New York, as America's largest and most prominent city was the ultimate symbol of this urban decay. In the late 70's the federal government refused to bail the city out. This led many New Yorkers to declare "America has given up on New York".
* TheBladeAlwaysLandsPointyEndIn: Snake's throwing knife is always right on target.
* BloodSport: The Duke arranges for an entertaining deathmatch between his GiantMook and Snake.
* BondOneLiner: [[spoiler: The President]] of all people gets one when he kills the Duke. Doubles as a CallBack and an IronicEcho.
--> [[spoiler: '''President''']]: You are the Duke of New York. But you ain't number one.
* BottomlessMagazines: Snake's MAC-10 is never reloaded once, and it fires about 10x as many bullets as he apparently brought with him. This also applies to Snake's revolver; not only does it only get reloaded once (and Snake only seems to have brought two speedloaders if the loadout on the table is any indication), but when [[spoiler:Maggie gets charged at by the Duke]], the revolver '''''with six chambers''''' is fired '''''seven times.'''''
* BoxedCrook: Snake, at the beginning of the film. He's about to be sent into Manhattan as a prisoner but gets roped into rescuing the president by Hauk.
%%* BulletholeDoor
* [[CaliforniaDoubling Illinois and Missouri Doubling]]: Filmed in East St. Louis and St. Louis to keep the budget low. Entire areas were in such a state of neglect, to the point where sets didn't even have to be built. Four years later, the scene of the BatterUp BloodSport (see above) was renovated into a hoity-toity shopping area -- visual MoodDissonance.
* ChekhovsGun: Subverted. Snake takes a wide array of weapons with him, but doesn't get a chance to use them all.
* ChronicBackstabbingDisorder: Brain acts just loyal enough to Snake and the Duke on different occasions to avoid being shot, but doesn't hesitate to screw them both over if it helps him get away.
* CloudCuckooLander: Cabbie has been driving his taxi in Manhattan for 30 years which means it's possible that he's not even there for any crime, but may have refused to leave when the city was walled up.
%%* CombatPragmatist: Snake.
%%* CoolOldGuy: Cabbie.
* CrapsackWorld: The United States seems to have become this, with the crime rate rising by 400% in 1988 and Manhattan island being converted to a maximum security prison. When the movie was made in 1981, this didn't seem too unreasonable to expect of the future.
* DeadpanSnarker: Snake.
-->'''Hauk:''' About an hour ago, a small jet went down inside New York City. The president was on board.
-->'''Snake:''' The president of what?
-->'''Hauk:''' That's not funny, Plissken.
* DecoyProtagonist: The woman Snake meets in the Chock Full 'O Nuts is set up to be Snake's sidekick, [[spoiler: but she gets killed (and eaten?) by the Crazies.]]
* DisproportionateRetribution: Being sent to Manhattan Island means a life sentence with no chance of release. Once you go in, you don't come out. There are no provisions inside to keep the prisoners fed and housed (though food is implied to be sent once a month by the girl in Chock Full O' Nuts), they simply fend for themselves [[ImAhumanitarian in any way that they can.]] It's heavily implied that everyone who commits a crime in the United States gets thrown in there.
** Subverted with Cabbie: He's just a cab driver who refused to leave.
* DoNotCallMePaul: Brain hates being called by his given name, Harold.
* TheDragon: Romero for the Duke, as he's the one the Duke sends to deliver the ultimatum to Hauk, and the one guarding the president when the Duke holds him hostage.
%%* TheDriver: Called, ironically enough, ''Cabbie''.
* DubNameChange: In Italy, Snake is known as "Jena" (hyena), due to "Serpente" (snake) being too long to properly sync up with the video (oddly enough, the Spanish dub averts this, in spite of the fact that their word for snake (serpiente) is even ''longer'').
* EscapePod: Air Force One has one for the President only, enabling him to survive the crash.
* EmbarrassingFirstName: Brain hates being called by his actual name, Harold.
* EvenEvilHasStandards: Snake's not evil, but he's a criminal. However, he's genuinely disgusted about the President's [[StealthInsult obtuse, half-hearted regret]] after he asked him how he felt about the people who died saving his life.
* EverybodyCallsHimBarkeep: Cabbie, who actually identifies himself ''as'' "Cabbie" when visiting Brain.
* EvilLaugh: Romero, TheDragon to [[BigBad the Duke]] has a high-pitched, mocking cackle.
* ExactTimeToFailure: The explosives planted near Snake's carotid artery will kill him at a pre-set time unless he returns with the president.
* ExplosiveLeash: The government ensures that Snake won't give up his mission by implanting explosives into his body that will kill him if he doesn't return within a day.
%%* EyepatchOfPower: Snake.
* FemaleGaze: Come on, ''you'' know [[DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything where]] you were looking during Snake's ShirtlessScene...
* FingerInTheMail: Romero taunts the government troops with the kidnapped President's severed finger (complete with a ring with the Presidential Seal.)
%%* FilkSong: [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3ZsyFNmkcY "The Escape"]] by Julia Ecklar
%%* FiveManBand: The people that Snake works with to get the President to safety and ultimate freedom.
%%** TheHero: Snake
%%** TheLancer: The President
%%** TheSmartGuy: Brain
%%** TheBigGuy: Cabbie
%%** TheChick: Maggie
%%* ForcedPrizeFight
* GiantMook: Ox Baker's character, a huge, bearded, shirtless guy who battles Snake in a makeshift arena, for the amusement of the Duke and his men.
%%* GoodHairEvilHair: Snake Plissken.
* TheGovernment: Fascist and totalitarian.
* TheGreatPoliticsMessUp: In 1997, the Cold War has turned hot and the USA is fighting a (presumably conventional) war against the USSR.
* HeroicNeutral: Snake, obviously. "I don't give a fuck about your war, or your president." He would prefer to just take the Gullfire and [[ScrewThisImOuttaHere fly straight to Canada]], letting the US, China and the Soviet Union blow each other to hell, but he can't because of the ExplosiveLeash he's injected with.
* HeroicSacrifice: [[spoiler: Maggie]]. Later, Snake asks the President if he knew how many people died to save him. The President's rote response doesn't please Snake.
* HellBentForLeather: Snake's old worn out leather coat.
* HollywoodSilencer: Averted with Snake's MAC-10.
%%* TheHyena: Romero.
* IJustWantToBeFree: Snake's entire motivation is that he just want to get away and be left alone to his own devices.
%%* ImAHumanitarian: The "Crazies".
* InexplicablyAwesome: The movie tells us that Snake is an ex black ops soldier twice decorated who turned his back on his country and tried to rob the Federal Reserve. No reasons for Snake's choices that led him down that path are ever presented.
* InsistentTerminology / DoNotCallMePaul: In both ''Escape from New York'' and ''Film/EscapeFromLA'', the U.S. government is on a LastNameBasis with protagonist Snake Plissken, to which he consistently replies, "Call me Snake." However, during the respective climaxes of both movies, when one of the government's men finally does call him Snake, he reverses his previous attitude with the reply, "The name's Plissken".
** Also, Brain really doesn't care to be called "Harold".
* InsufferableGenius: Brain. It's a minor miracle he's still alive in Manhattan since everyone ''hates'' him, save Maggie and Cabbie. Brain is also the only person in Manhattan who can produce gasoline, possibly refined from crude oil obtained from the pump briefly shown well panning through his base (presumably the New York Public Library).
-->'''Mook #1:''' That Brain is a real pain in the ass. He's always sniffing around like a dog.
-->'''Mook #2:''' He comes up with the gas...
* ItsAllAboutMe:
** Snake cannot be persuaded to give a shit about anything but his own interests. Considering there is [[BlackAndGrayMorality no particularly good side]] for him to be on, one can hardly blame him.
*** HiddenDepths: Snake does prove to legitimately care about Brain, Maggie and Cabbie.
** The President is a selfish uncaring asshole too.
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold: Snake. He only wants his freedom, though he is shown to be remorseful for the innocents (relatively speaking) who died to get the President out.
* KeepTheReward: After the rescue, the president is willing to give Snake anything he wants as a reward. Snake wants only one thing.
-->'''The President''': I want to thank you. Anything you want, you just name it.
-->'''Snake''': Just a moment of your time.
-->'''The President''': Yes?
-->'''Snake''': We did get you out. A lot of people died in the process. [[SecretTestOfCharacter I just wondered how you felt about it.]]
* KillTheCutie: [[spoiler:Cabbie]]. He spends most of the whole movie as a happy-go-lucky, overly friendly wide-eyed optimist who looks out for [[spoiler:Plissken]] (even to the extent of [[spoiler:throwing a molotov cocktail at some thugs, driving him for free and coming back for him just in time)]]. Then, despite being in an explosion that leaves the others inexplicably unscathed, he dies horribly. Thankfully, Snake gets some justice for his unnecessary death [[spoiler:[[CrowningMomentOfAwesome by screwing the ungrateful president.]]]]
%%* LaughingMad: Romero.
* TheLoad: The president.
-->'''Snake''': We have to move fast.
-->'''The President''': You're goddamn right I'll move fast!
** He doesn't.
* MacGuffin: The tape with the secret of nuclear fusion.
* MrFanservice / PerverseSexualLust: Snake has quite a following.
* MsFanservice: Adrienne Barbeau as Maggie displays copious décolletage in all of her scenes.
* NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast: Snake Plissken.
* NiceGuy: Cabbie. He's the only character who ever sports a sunny smile and disposition at any time.
* NinetiesAntihero: Snake exemplifies this despite being nine years ahead of his time, making him an UrExample.
* NoodleIncident:
** There has to be a reason everybody thinks Snake is dead...
*** The Kansas City incident where Brain abandoned Snake and Fresno Bob is another one. It's possible that Snake could have almost died there, as he asks Brain "Do you know what they did to Bob?"
*** The incident '''''was''''' filmed, but was removed for pacing. It is available on the Blu-Ray re-release of the film, revealing Bob's fate. [[spoiler:He was gunned down,]] although in a slightly excessive way.
*** This is a reference to the 1971 John Wayne picture, Big Jake, which was a big influence on Escape From New York. Several times throughout that movie, people tell Wayne's character, Jake [=McCandless=] that they heard he was dead.
* NoPlansNoPrototypeNoBackup: The cassette tape holding the secret of nuclear fusion.
* NotInThisForYourRevolution: Snake absolutely despises the authorities who literally have to coerce him into working for them with a [[ExplosiveLeash tailor-made "kill you in 24 hours" device]] in his body or he'd just bail on them in a heartbeat.
* OffTheShelfFX: What appeared to be an impressive (for 1981) wire-frame CGI image of Lower Manhattan was actually a physical model with the buildings outlined with glow-in-the-dark green tape and filmed in black light. Courtesy of none other than Creator/JamesCameron.
* OhCrap:
** The President when he discovers [[spoiler: that Snake's switched the nuclear fusion tape with Cabbie's, and thus he's playing the dignitaries "Bandstand Boogie"]].
** Hauk and his second-in-command when the flight code ID for the plane trespassing over the prison airspace comes through -- revealing that it's Air Force One.
* TheOnlyOne: Snake is told he's the man for the job due to his prior black ops experience and his expendability.
* OurPresidentsAreDifferent: Well for starters he sounds British. An in-universe reason was given, but seriously it was to give Donald Pleasance the role.
* ParrotExposition: An example occurs early on in the film. Also HilariousInHindsight.
--> '''Hauk:''' You go in, find the President and bring him back in 24 hours, and you're a free man.
--> '''Snake:''' 24 hours, huh?
%%* PhraseCatcher: See RunningGag below.
* PlotArmor: A landmine neatly bisects a car between the front and back seats with only one out of the five passenges being killed.
* PrecisionFStrike: Snake's initial response to Hauk's proposal:
-->''I don't give a fuck about your war, or your president.''
** And again when Brain tries to dodge his questions:
--->'''Snake:''' *holding his gun to Brain's chest* Where's the president?!
--->'''Brain:''' Swear to God, Snake, I don't know-
--->'''Snake:''' Don't ''fuck'' with me!
* PunchClockHero: Snake, although kinda motivated since he has microscopic explosives that will rupture his carotid arteries in 24 hours.
%%* TheQuincyPunk
%%* RatedMForManly
%%* ReasonableAuthorityFigure: Hauk. Even Snake seems to think this, despite the TeethClenchedTeamwork.
%%* RefusalOfTheCall
%%* ReportsOfMyDeathWereGreatlyExaggerated: "I heard you were dead."
* RunningGag:
** "Snake Plissken? I thought you were dead."
** "Call me Snake". followed up by later "The name's Plissken".
* SanitySlippage: The President suffers one, combined with a RoaringRampageOfRevenge when he ''stops'' the winch that's bringing Snake to safety (keep in mind, he's about to be killed by explosives in his neck), to machine gun The Duke, screaming, "You're the Duke! You're the Duke! You're the Duke!... [[BondOneLiner You're the Duke - you're ''A-Number One''.]]"
%%* ScaryBlackMan: The Duke (Isaac Hayes).
%%* ScrewTheRulesImDoingWhatsRight: Snake, in a weird way.
* ShonenHair: Romero's wild, spiky upswept 'do.
* ShoutOut:
** "I thought you were dead" was also a running gag in the 1971 JohnWayne movie ''BigJake''.
** The "Crazies" are, no doubt, a ShoutOut to the George Romero movie of the [[TheCrazies same name]].
** The characters Cronenberg (the doctor who injects Snake with the explosives) and Romero (the spiky-haired {{Mook}} with the crazy laugh) are named after Creator/DavidCronenberg and George Romero, respectively.
%%* SleevesAreForWimps: Snake.
* SpiritualSuccessor: Although not intended, this film's premise is fairly similar to ''Film/TheWarriors'', in which the protagonists have one night to escape from a dystopian New York City crawling with street trash and urban warlords. Some parts of the soundtracks even sound similar.
* StateSec: The ''United States Police Force'', who despite their name has arms and equipment on par with the military.
* StealthPun: The abandoned store where Snake and a woman are attacked by crazies is called Chock Full O' Nuts.
* StylisticSuck: The song "Everyone's Coming To New York" is sung by various criminals, and even on the soundtrack CD, the singers sing slightly out of tune, and various interludes are played on kazoos. Why yes, [[HilarityEnsues hilarity most certainly does ensue]].
%%* TallDarkAndSnarky: Snake.
* TimedMission: Both films. [[spoiler: Subverted in the sequel in that it was a fake threat.]]
* TrackingDevice
** Snake is given a tracer. When he pushes a button his position can be tracked for 15 minutes.
** The President is wearing a vital signs bracelet that broadcasts a "sig pulse". Snake is given a device that can home in on the signal, showing direction and distance to the device.
* TrashcanBonfire: In the scene where Romero approaches Bob Hauk to deliver an ultimatum.
* TwentyMinutesIntoTheFuture: Occurs in 1997. In 1988 the U.S. crime rate rose 400%, Manhattan was turned into the maximum security prison for the whole country, and the U.S. became authoritarian. There is a war going on with Soviet Union (presumably non-nuclear) and the whole film begins as Communist terrorists skyjack UsefulNotes/AirForceOne. ColdWar-phobia was very popular in TheEighties.
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: After Snake lands in New York, Cabbie is the first major character encountered. Cabbie takes Snake, Brain and Maggie to the Duke's headquarters, then drives off after panicking over the Duke's reputation. Later, as Snake, Brain and Maggie [[spoiler: make their way with the President to the 69th Street Bridge]], Cabbie suddenly returns, with no explanation as to where he was throughout a third of the movie. Seems like ContrivedCoincidence.
** He's a taxi driver in New York (it's implied he's just a New Yorker who never left). [[FridgeBrilliance If there's a fare involved, he'll show up]].
** It can be assumed that since Cabbie traded for the tape that he was still around Duke's other men when Brain and Maggie broke out the President, he could have followed Duke's men who were following Brain and Maggie.
* {{Zeerust}}: While cassette tapes were still widely used in 1997, telex were gone by then. The wireframe guidance images in the glider might raise some eyebrows, but it's conceivable that such a light aircraft would use simple computer graphics.

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