Escape from New York divided critics and fans alike upon its release in 1981. Since then the film has garnered a huge fan following. One reason is that the film reeks of atmosphere (common in Carpentar films). Although shot on a modest budget of $7 million, Escape from New York has the appearance of a more expensive picture. The skyline scenes of 1997 New York are very impressive. Matte artists, set designers, model makers, and animators all deserve credit for creating a believably futuristic, decadent cityscape. Cinematographer Dean Cundey gets a lot of nice, atmospheric shots that go a long way towards atoning for the film's faults. Carpenter's simple score, which is electronically synthesized, is the perfect audio accompaniment to some of the more ominous visuals. Kurt Russell is delightful as Snake. The actor incorporates aspects of Clint Eastwood's spaghetti western personality into his character. The presence of Lee Van Cleef reinforces the Eastwood comparisons.