I loved Escape from New York as a kid. It was the first R-rated movie I ever saw. I own it on Blu-ray and decided to re-watch it.
The opening sequence describes the situation with an uncredited narration by Jamie Lee Curtis…
In 1988 the crime rate in the United States rises 400%. The once great city of New York becomes the one maximum security prison for the entire country. A 50-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.
It doesn’t sound so far fetched anymore: create a place for people that do not want police.
I love John Carpenter’s synth soundtrack. Opening track here.
I did not know there was an alternate opening to the movie. This opening shows Snake getting busted for robbing the Bank of the United States…the crime that sent him to New York Maximum Security Prison. You can see that they have created “USART,” a subway that covers all of the USA (looks like it is the BART station in Berkeley to me). I like the original opening better with the focus on New York as a prison.
I watched the credits and noticed something new to me: James Cameron (Terminator, Aliens, Titanic) is listed as doing special effects and matte artwork.