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John Carpenter on Escape From L.A.

"Personally, I think the movie is saying that Americans are afraid of too much freedom. We want to give up every single freedom we have in favor of order. We are so afraid of disorder, and freedom, that we'd even legislate life away. People are really scared.''
- John Carpenter,
Wacko President Hails From Virginia In 'Escape From L.A.', The Virginian-Pilot, Aug 08, 1996

"We wanted to take a comedic look at the action genre and we also wanted to bring back the first film, which some people took seriously at the time. It was one of the first near-future apocalyptic movies. We had the same approach this time. Remember, a lot of today's younger audience hasn't seen the first one."
- John Carpenter, Crafty Carpenter Enjoys Own 'Escape',
The Tampa Tribune, Aug 09, 1996

"We thought about what L.A. has been through in the 90s: earthquakes, mud slides, fires, riots, drive-by shootings. Basically, it's pretty fruitful material. A lot of people living here are in denial. It's a beautiful place, but we all live on the edge of this incredible earthquake fault and we never leave. From that premise, we worked our way into the story."
- John Carpenter,
Escape Artist, American Cinematographer, Vol 77, Issue 9, Sep, 1996

"We decided early on that it would be too easy to attack the right. Although, since Reagan, there definitely have been shifts towards fascism in America. There's more racism. Unrestrained capitalism has taken over. Now we're going through an industrial death. A lot of this is reflected in what I do. But there's also the tyranny of the left. Which is absolutely outrageous. It's stupid. There's a lot of censorship from the left. Huge amounts. It's a shock, actually. All this political correctness. Those people are nuts. This whole business about not being able to smoke anywhere. I can't even comment. I can't even begin to tell you what I think about that. And it comes from the dear old left. What is it with these people. Do they think their shit doesn't stink?"
- John Carpenter, The Great Escape, Melody Maker, Sep 28, 1996

"Give it a few more years. 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 people didn't like it because they felt it was a remake, not a sequel."
- John Carpenter, Creative Screenwriting, Vol 6, Issue 1, Jan-Feb, 1999

"I prefer parts of Escape From L.A. I prefer the themes of it. Although, I guess Escape From New York was a tinier idea, that everybody could grasp it quickly. But the themes of deporting people from L.A. isn't so far from the truth these days. I prefer the prescience of that." - John Carpenter, 'Escape From L.A.' Director John Carpenter Looks Back At The Cult-Hit Action Film, ComicBook, Feb 18, 2022

Kurt Russell on Escape From L.A.

"It's a pretty wild story, but it could happen. It's not as if what we portray couldn't exist in the future. It's unlikely, yet it could occur. The fun part of the whole exercise has been to mix the credible realities of the present with the credible realities of a possible future. It's a wide happenstance, but fun to inject Snake into that landscape. Rather than hands-on SF, Escape From L.A. is gentle SF. A big part of the fun of the original movie was to see recognizable landmarks used in a futuristic context. And it will be the same here too."
- Kurt Russell, Escape Artist, Starburst, Vol 19, Issue 1, Sep, 1996

"In my mind the president is a left-of-centre Democrat from the south. He's not a right-wing president. He's a left-of-centre president. Witness his convictions. His political correctness. His Christian coalition connections. He has a vision of LA going up in an earthquake. At that point, not only does he believe he's in touch with God, but also so does everyone else. He suggests a change in the constitution that makes him president for life, and he becomes a dictator. And, like all dictators, he begins to think he has a divine right to impose all these laws and regulations, force them through, ram 'em home. It's basically an exaggeration of what's happening in America today. Out of a desire to protect people, all kinds of individual civil liberties are being undermined. Politically correct laws are infringing on all kinds of individual freedoms. My view of it is that if you create enough laws, sooner or later everyone will end up in jail."
- Kurt Russell, The Great Escape, Melody Maker, Sep 28, 1996

"Actually when the studio read the script, they said, 'God, there's not a lot of humanity here. This guy is basically socially unfit.' I said, 'Well, have you seen the first movie?' They said, Yeah, but you're in a different time now.' "So we talked about trying to give Snake a cause. Finally, after many months, John just looked at me and said, 'You know what Snake would say about this?' Finally, that's what inspired us to go with the ending that we went with. I wrote it and and said to John and Debra, 'I think this is true to the character, but I don't know how audience is going to react.' I just feel it was true to what Snake would do in this movie. John said, 'It's exactly what Snake would do."
- Kurt Russell, Snake Eye,
Starlog, Issue 232, Nov, 1996

"It opened up August 9th after the Olympics. It's gone down interestingly, it's doing ok. It's doing better than the original [Escape From New York] did in it's initial release. I think it's going to go down exactly as the original did. It's a picture we made because over 15 years the audience for the other one grew. We meant to make a picture that would feel the same, that is to say that it would not be totally accepted at the time it comes out, because it's not a picture that is made that way, but I do think that the sensibility of the picture and the way the picture's made and the character in the piece are fairly unique and as time goes by I think that once again it will gain an audience. We were talking earlier about political correctness and stuff as in the movie, through the main character does not concern itself with but the background is sort of all about that. So the movie came out at an interesting period of time, it couldn't have picked a more politically incorrect time, it came out like immediately following the Olympics which was nicely enough, you know, in Atlanta in an American city and for all the reasons concerned it became kind of patriotic in a certain way, a good feeling of America winning gold medals and overcoming adversity, whatever, and our picture is I think seen by many as somewhat subversive. You either have a sense of humor or you don't - sometimes you need a little time to sit back and have a laugh."
- Kurt Russell, Seeing With Snake Eyes, Talking Pictures, Issue 18, Summer, 1996

Debra Hill on Escape From L.A.

"What's real funny is that the Republican primary we're having is quite similar to the political climate in our movie, so it's a very timely thing. In the film, the US has become a police state, and is basically run by a president who is so right-wing and Christian fundamentalist that he has been voted president for life. Anybody who still has free speech, free thought, free religion, free anything is ousted out of the country and departed into the city of Los Angeles, which has become the last free zone in the U.S. In some ways, it's like a third world country in that you have these really smart people stuck in a place where they have to fend for themselves."
- Debra Hill,
"Escape From L.A.", Fangoria, Issue 153, Jun, 1996

"There are really two villains in the film. Both want to be king. One is the President of the United States, who already has great power and leads the 'haves,' and the other is Cuervo Jones, who is this sort of shining path guy from Peru who leads the 'have-nots' trapped in LA. Basically Cuervo is going to attack the U.S. and level the playing field. What Snake does is set up so that the President and Cuervo end up on equal plane."
- Debra Hill, To Live And Die In Escape From L.A., Fangoria, Issue 155, Aug, 1996

Cliff Robertson on The President

"One day he gets on TV and says, 'One day the mighty fist will come down and crush the Sodom and Gomorrah of Los Angeles'. Well this earthquake strikes LA, so everyone thinks the messiah has arrives in the form of this guy. Suddenly he's the president for life. Now, like all dictators, he is absolutely convinced that he is right, and he's also convinced that what's right for the country is indeed right for the country - the hallmarks of a typical dictator. When his daughter realizes that Daddy is a despot and joins up with this counter revolutionary, you have a battle between someone already in control and someone who wants to be in control. They're both fighting for the reins, and the people are the horses - a real interesting dynamic which attracted me to the film."
- Cliff Robertson,
Postcards From L.A.,
Starburst Yearbook, Issue 30, Dec, 1996

Stacy Keach on Malloy

"He's the commander of the military, and there's this anticipation going on between him and Snake, but it's antipathy that any superior officer might have with a young hotshot. Malloy really believes in Snake, and my feeling is that he's vicariously living through him and wants him to succeed. I don't think he's interested in any kind of promotion and there's no money involved. There's nothing in it for him except for the satisfaction that he's done a good job."
- Stacy Keach, To Live And Die In Escape From L.A., Fangoria, Issue 155, Aug, 1996

George Corraface on Cuervo Jones

"He's a trained revolutionary. He's after power. He's after control and he is very smart. Not as smart as Snake Plissken, but almost."

- George Corraface, The Making Of Escape From L.A. - Snake Is Back, HBO TV Special, 1996

Steve Buscemi on Map to the Stars Eddie

"He's on any side that will benefit him. He's a survivor. He's a go-getter. He's a do-gooder and a bed-wetter. He's just a funny guy."
- Steve Buscemi, 
The Making Of Escape From L.A. - Snake Is Back, HBO TV Special, 1996

Pam Grier on Hershe Las Palmas

"This character was really complex because I'm a woman playing a guy who has become a woman. At one time, Snake and this guy had stolen cars together, wrestled together and hung out together, so now the character has to intimidate Snake, slap him around if necessary and, in the flip of a second, catch him off guard, seduce him and stick her tongue in his ear. I had a blue-print of preparation, so I watched all the Bruce Willis, Wesley Snipes and Arnold Schwarzenegger movies, observed all the guys walking, slagging, talking, spitting, belching, screaming and participating in boxing matches, wrestling matches, and generally threatening echo other in pool halls. On set, I would walk into a corner and mentally experience all these male mannerisms, hold my crotch, slap other male crew members on the back and get slapped on the back. And even though I was only in five or six scenes, I had major bruises because it was obviously pretty arduous work."
- Pam Grier,
Postcards From L.A., Starburst Yearbook, Issue 30, Dec, 1996

Movie Quotes

Plissken [From the trailer]: Your rules are really beginning to annoy me.

The President: Like the mighty fist of God. Armageddon will descend upon the city of Los Angeles. The city of sin, the city of Gomorrah, the city of Sodom. And waters will arise and separate this sinful, sinful city... from our country.   

Duty Sergeant: Hello Plissken. Welcome to L.A.

Brazen: That Snake Plissken?
Malloy: What'd you expect? 
Brazen: I don't know. He just looks so retro. Kind of twentieth century.

Duty Sergeant: So what happened to you, war hero. You were the best we had. Now you're just like one of them. You had it all and you turned away from your country. Why? The whole nation is watching. Every good and decent person who work hard and follows the rules. Be my guest. What do you have to say, Plissken?
Plissken: Call me Snake.

Malloy: How's it going hotshot? You know, I've got to admit. I though we had you in Cleveland. C'mon, tell me. How did you do it?
Plissken: Get to the deal.
Malloy: What?
Plissken: You need me for something. What is it?

Malloy: We sent in a five man rescue team, but within a few hours after landing all but one of them was killed.
Plissken: Hell of a team.

Utopia: To the American people. Now is the time to rise up and demand the surrender of the President and his corrupt theocracy of lies and terror!

Utopia: Today is day one of a brand new world. The days of Empire are finished; to the President... my father... you know what's in here... unless you open your borders, allow all the wrongfully accused, to return to their country... I will use this, on you and on the United States...

Brazen: Somehow, Cuervo Jones managed to tap into the VR master data bank. Utopia was lonely looking for something to believe in, and so he used her to steal the black box.
Plissken: Sad story. You got a smoke?
Malloy: This is serious, Plissken. The black box is a matter of national security.
Plissken: Looks like it belongs to Utopias loverboy now.
Malloy: We want it back.
Plissken: I'll bet. What's it do?
Malloy: Top secret. Only on a need-to-know.
Plissken: Evitable I don't need to know, so fuck you I'm going to Hollywood.
The President: If you go in L.A., bring back the black box, and you'll receive a full pardon for every immoral act you have ever committed in the United States.
Plissken: Sounds familiar.
The President: An immediate answer. Yes or no?
Plissken: Who are you?
The President: I'm your president.  
Plissken: I understand you got some domestic problems.
The President: Put that black box in my hand and you're a free man.
Plissken: I can see you're real concerned about your daughter.
The President: Utopia is lost to me. My daughter is gone.
Malloy: Last chance, hotshot.
Plissken: For what?
The President: Freedom, sir.
Plissken: In America? That died a long time ago.
The President: All right, I've heard enough of this. Now explain to this foot soldier why he is going to do what we tell him to do.

Plissken: One question. Which one of you assholes gets to die trying to stick me?
Malloy: You don't understand. It's already in you.
Barzen: Catches on quick, doesn't he?

President: Man is too dumb to survive L.A.
Malloy: We're holograms, Plissken.
Give us a little credit. We're not that stupid.

Plissken: You better hope I don't make it back! All of you.

Plissken: By the way, who gives me the antidote?
Malloy: A medical team will be standing by.
Plissken: Neither one of you?
Malloy: No.
Plissken: Good. [firing]
Malloy [chuckles]: Thought you'd might try that, hotshot. That's why the first clip was loaded with blanks. Bye, bye, Snake. Good luck. 

Malloy: Slow it down, Plissken. You're overloading the power plant!
Plissken [in the sub]: You slow down, dickhead! I'm the one who's dying!

Pipeline: I kind of thought you'd be taller.

Plissken: Where can I find Cuervo Jones?
Skinhead: What do I look like, a fucking tourist guide?

Cuervo: That looks like Snake Plissken.
Utopia: Who?
Cuervo: Used to be a gun fighter. Kind of faded out of the scene a few years ago. I hear he slowed down some.
Utopia [Watching Snake on a motorcycle]: He don't look that slow, Cuervo.
Cuervo: Nobody rolls into town and disrespects me. Not Snake Plissken. Not nobody. Bollas!  

Plissken [surrounded by Mescalitos]: I'm gonna give you assholes a chance. What do you say we play a little... Bangkok Rules?

Surgeon General of Beverly Hills [groping Taslima's breasts]: My God, they're real!

Taslima: You are Snake Plissken, aren't you?
Plissken: I used to be.
Taslima: I thought you'd be taller. So what are you doing in LA?
Plissken: Dying.

Taslima: I used to hear about you all the time, like they could never catch you, no matter what you did. Very cool, Snake.
Plissken: Sooner or later, they get everybody.

Taslima: I read your future.
Plissken: The future is right now.

Plissken: Why are you here?
Taslima: I was a Muslim in South Dakota. All of a sudden they made it a crime.
Plissken: I mean, why did you stay. You can go south - Mexico. 
Taslima: L.A.'s still the place, Snake. If you think about what's happened to the other side of the world. That's the prison. This is the last free zone left, anywhere.
Plissken: Dark paradise.
Taslima [Gets shot afterwards and dies]: At least we get something out of the deal. A girl can still wear a fur coat if she wants to, for example. No, no, no, once you figure out this place, it's really not so bad.

Cuervo: Bend over, Mr. President. Time for a spanking.

Utopia [Witnessing people being killed at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum]: But this is insane.
Cuervo: It is. That's the point.

Cuervo: I promised you tonight was going to be special. I also promised you one last great spectacle of death here in this historic arena. Now you will see that death. I give you... the death of SNAKE PLISSKEN!

Cuervo: Some people think you're already dead, Snake. Some say you never will be, cause you may have survived Cleveland. You may have escaped from New York. But this is L.A., vato. And you're about to find out that this fucking city can kill anybody!

Cuervo: Game time! Basketball. Two hoops, full court. Ten-second shot clock. Miss a shot, you get shot. Shot clock buzzer goes off before you shoot, you get shot. Two points for a basket. No three-point bullshit. All you gotta do is get ten points. That's it. By the way, nobody's ever walked off that court alive. Nobody.

This town loves a winner.

Pipeline: Whoo! Bitchin'.

Hershe: Oh, yeah, right! And the Plutoxin Seven virus is going to kill you in less in ten hours.
Plissken: What?
Hershe: It's bullshit, baby! Rumour control. Government propaganda. Just one more lie.
Hershe: Oh, Plissken, man, you are such a loser.

Cuervo: Are you ready for the new world!

The President: Get my jet ready. Get it fueled and ready to go.
Malloy: You can't run away now. It's too late. You have to stand and face it down.
Brazen: Mr. President, Commander Malloy, we are receiving reports from Miami. An armada of warships have just departed Cuba. ETA to Florida coast in forty five minutes.
Malloy: They're starting the invasion.
The President: Gotta go to my quarters. Got to pray! (exits)
Malloy [To Brazen]: Go with him. Make sure he doesn't do anything crazy.

The President: Relax, war hero. We took you for a little ride and you came through.

The President: For he so loved his country... he gave his only seditious child.

Malloy: She didn't know that she had that remote unit in her pocket, did she? I was wondering what kind of lame switch you'd try to pull this time, Plissken. You know, you're becoming very predictable.
Plissken: Yeah, I guess so. You
got a smoke?
Malloy: The United States is a non-smoking nation! No smoking, no drinking, no drugs, no women - unless you're married. No guns, no foul language, no red meat.
Plissken: Land of the free.

The President: This is the President of the United States. I now demand an immediate retreat of all forces now threatening this great nation. If my demand is not met immediately, I will destroy your ability to function permanently.

The President: Very funny.
Plissken: Yeah.
The President: I hope it was worth it. For now you are going to die.
Plissken: Everybody does.

Brazen: He's not even here! He's a hologram!
Plissken: Catching on quick, doesn't she. 

The President: What's it to be, Plissken? Us or them?
Plissken: Shut down the Third World. They lose, you win. Shut down America. You lose, they win. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The President: So what are you going to do?
Plissken: Disappear.
Brazen: He's entered the world code. No target code. Sir, that will shut down the entire planet. 
Plissken: I told you you'd hope I didn't make it back.
Malloy: You push that button, everything we've accomplished for the past five hundred years will be finished. Our technology, our way of life, our entire history. We'll have to start all over again. For God's sake, don't do it, Snake!
Plissken: The name's Plissken.

He did it! He shut down the Earth!

Plissken: Welcome to the human race.