Enforced Method Acting: In some of the shots during the fight scene, Snake's expressions of terror are real. Ox Baker, having never done a film before, got a little too into his role, and poor Kurt Russell really did end up fearing for his life.
Russell did play real-life psychopathic mass murderer (notserial killer) Charles Whitman 6 years before "Escape from New York". To this day, out of all characters played by Russell, Whitman remains the most evil one.
What Could Have Been: As stated above the studio was not initially keen to hire Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken due to his past work as a Disney kid and tried to counter-pitch director John Carpenter on either Tommy Lee Jones or Charles Bronson of Death Wish fame (an idea Carpenter shot down on the grounds that Bronson was too old). Other candidates for the role of Snake included Nick Nolte, Jeff Bridges and Kris Kristofferson; the first two declined because they just weren't interested and the latter was declined by the studio due to the failure of Heaven's Gate. But Carpenter fought for Russell and he eventually won.