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Escape from New York (Original Film Soundtrack)

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Album Review

John Carpenter is a rarity among film directors in that he is also a composer who writes the musical scores for his movies. Carpenter's 1981 film Escape from New York was a kind of genre hybrid, a science fiction crime thriller with suggestions of a spaghetti Western thrown in. Set in a near future when Manhattan has been converted into a no-man's-land prison, the movie needed an appropriately futuristic soundtrack, and Carpenter came up with a score for synthesizer that he played with his sound designer, Alan Howarth. Despite the instrumentation, however, the composer retained a style familiar from such earlier works as Halloween. He favored simple, repetitive keyboard figures, generally two per sequence, set in a fast-slow counterpoint. The Escape from New York score had a few changes of pace, notably a borrowing from Debussy and an ersatz Broadway show tune, "Everyone's Coming to New York" ("Shoot a cop with a gun/The Big Apple is plenty of fun"), written by Nick Castle, but most of the music sounded like earlier Carpenter scores, similarly creating a tense, ominous tone much of the time. The high-tech sound was sometimes at odds with the bombed-out sets in the film, but it helped maintain a tense mood in a movie that sometimes threatened to become comical because it was so stylized. Two decades later, when the soundtrack was reissued on an expanded CD, the synth sound was no longer futuristic but very much of its early-'80s time. Howarth, who had constructed the original 37-minute LP, re-edited and retitled the previously released material and came up with an additional 20 minutes' worth of cues and excerpts from the film's arch dialogue. There was music from two cut scenes and an unused closing-credit theme, all of it in a consistent style with the previously heard material.

Customer Reviews

More John Carpenter, please

Escape From New York - mediocre film, incredible, atmospheric score. Check tracks 1, 4, 25 and 26 especially....though maybe I'm just biased as I've had to endure listening to these on tape for years [this is clearly a remastered version, with vastly improved sound quality]. But please, please, please iTunes, how about getting Assault On Precinct 13 [the 1976 version, obviously], The Fog, and maybe even Ennio Morricone's score to The Thing on here we can be all, um, John Carpenter'd up?


Escape is not mediocre to me at all. It's a great sci fi film made by an auteur with depth a great sense of humour and also very political. The soundtrack has be an inspiration for many other film composer and artists like Daft Punk, Tricky and Justice. Dark, atmospheric, synthetic but also organic. A soundtrack you can listen to without watching the film too, a rare thing.

So Cool.......

It is in no way a mediocre film,an absolute favourite of mine,it is cool & very iconic,represented by the fact of how much the dialogue is sampled by many musical artists,although watching it the other day,it is very much of it's time.What does give it extra gravitas is this amazing score,like so many of Carpenters',very,very cool to go with a very,very cool movie.Excellent!

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