The year? 1996.
Kristin was in eighth grade. She hadn’t seen many R-rated movies, but she’d sure read a lot by King, Koontz, Crichton, and their contemporaries. She didn’t know about John Carpenter, or Escape From New York. But the trailer for Escape from LA looked like THE FUCKING COOLEST MOVIE EVER.
Her parents never let her see the film. As time went on, it was known that the movie bombed, was a flop, a stinker. She saw the acclaimed Escape from New York and loved it. So she never watched the sequel.
Until today, May 31, in the year of our lord 2020.
I’ve been duped. John Carpenter’s Escape From LA is fan-fucking tastic.
What did John Carpenter think? “”Escape from L.A. is better than the first movie. Ten times better. It’s got more to it. It’s more mature. It’s got a lot more to it. I think some people didn’t like it because they felt it was a remake, not a sequel… I suppose it’s the old question of whether you like Rio Bravo (1959) or El Dorado (1967) better? They’re essentially the same movie. They both had their strengths and weaknesses. I don’t know-you never know why a movie’s going to make it or not. People didn’t want to see Escape that time, but they really didn’t want to see The Thing (1982)… You just wait. You’ve got to give me a little while. People will say, you know, what was wrong with me?””
It seems like…now…is an interesting time to watch the film. It features a president who’s managed to rid America of all her “undesirables.” You know, Muslims, prisoners, atheists, and anyone else who doesn’t fit the white, Christian bill. This president is so in love with his own ideas—he’s done away with term limits—that he offers up his rebellious daughter (who he named Utopia!) as collateral damage. And is willing to do it live on TV. The America of this movie, set in 2013, is a complete police state, and the rest of the world has had it with our shit. The Atlantic wrote up a great piece on it in 2013, taking a peek at what it and some of its other sci fi brethren have gotten right or wrong.
The Onion AV club wrote up a nice piece that compares the bombastic film with some of the soulless duds from the 90’s. CGI had arrived, but we didn’t quite know what to do with it yet. This movie is fun as hell: Snake shows up in his EFNY costume (it’s quipped that he looks dated) and they make him dress up in all black leather which only makes him look MORE badass (and less like RJ MacReady). We’ve got Steve Buscemi as Map to the Stars Eddie. We’ve got Bruce Campbell as the Surgeon General of Beverly Hills. Pam Greer is Hersche Las Palmas. It’s EFNY, but re-drawn as a cartoon. And I think it’s fantastic.
I love camp. I love a movie that’s breezy and not too serious. I love larger than life characters and explosions and Kurt Russell and goddammit, I loved this movie. I agree that NY is a BETTER film, this one is more fun, and more my style.