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Escape from New York (1981)

R  |   |  Action, Sci-Fi  |  10 July 1981 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 84,288 users  
Reviews: 276 user | 189 critic

In 1997, when the US President crashes into Manhattan, now a giant maximum security prison, a convicted bank robber is sent in for a rescue.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Taylor (scenes deleted)
Frank Doubleday ...
John Strobel ...
Gypsy #1 (as John Cothran Jr.)
Garrett Bergfeld ...
Gypsy #2


In the future, crime is out of control and New York City is a maximum security prison. Grabbing a bargaining chip right out of the air, convicts bring down the President's plane in bad old Gotham. Gruff Snake Plissken, a one-eyed lone warrior new to prison life, is coerced into bringing the President, and his cargo, out of this land of undesirables. Written by Anthony Pereyra {hypersonic91@yahoo.com}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


1997. New York City is now a maximum security prison. Breaking out is impossible. Breaking in is insane. See more »


Action | Sci-Fi


R | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

10 July 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

John Carpenter's Escape from New York  »

Box Office


$6,000,000 (estimated)


$25,244,700 (USA)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (Extended Version)

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


The line "I thought you were dead" was probably borrowed from Big Jake (1971). Every time John Wayne tells someone his name the standard response is "I thought you were dead". See more »


While briefing Hauk about "David 14," Rehme says the jet is "Seven miles out and closing." Even at a leisurely 300mph (the cruising speed of the Convair 580 aircraft the Air Force One model was based on), the plane would have reached them in under a minute and a half. Yet they have plenty of time to get to the control center and ID the aircraft before it even crosses the river. See more »


[first lines]
Narrator: 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 ...
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Everyone's Going to New York
Music and Lyrics by Nick Castle
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Cult monument with a dream cast!
11 August 2005 | by (the Draconian Swamp of Unholy Souls) – See all my reviews

Nearly 25 years and an endless amount of viewings later, John Carpenter's "Escape from NY" still ranks high among the chosen few, quintessential cult films of the 80's. This is, simply put, one of the coolest productions ever with legendary characters, ingenious plot and pitch-black humor. Kurt Russell, with eye patch and nihilistic 'you-don't-like-it-go-to-hell' attitude, plays the role of his life as anti-hero Snake Plissken, recruited by his authority-nemesis Bob Hauk to bring back the American president who crashed with his plane in New York. One problem though; ever since crime rose with 400% in 1987, New York has become one giant and demarcated prison where criminals determine their own "civilization". Offered no other choice, Snake infiltrates NY for his mission …and for a personal race against the clock. Especially the first sixty minutes of this movie are terrific, since there constantly is the introduction of new and imaginative characters. Class-A actors play all these utterly cool characters, which makes it even more memorable! Apart from Kurt Russell, "Escape from New York" also stars icons like Lee Van Cleef ("The Good, the Bad and the Ugly"), Isaac Hayes ("Truck Turner"), Donald Pleasance ("Halloween") and Harry Dean Stanton ("Repo Man"). Even the smaller supportive roles are well distributed, with the underrated Tom Atkins as Van Cleef's sidekick and Adrienne Barbeau in a very sexy part. The downfall of America's number one city is atmospherically portrayed and Carpenter's own music score creates an excellent mood of despair. The action sequences are impressively photographed and John Capenter professionally camouflages that his film is, in fact, and independent production. My only slightly negative remark is that the story should have had a better, more explosive climax. Particularly because the first hour is so great, the ending seems quite tame. But, what the hell, this movie is a must for every film lover! In 1996, Carpenter also made "Escape from L.A." and even though it's good entertainment, it can't compete with "NY".

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