John Carpenter is in the midst of a bit of renaissance at the moment. Many of his films are being re-released as special editions via the Scream Factory imprint. His longtime stills photographer, Kim Gottlieb-Walker, released a book called On Set With John Carpenter that featured behind-the-scenes photos from his early films. And beyond that, his influence is being felt more in current films: from his font (Albertus) being used in films like Late Phases and Housebound to the synth-heavy scores of Cold In July and The Guest. And recently, Fox won the rights to remake his seminal 1981 film, Escape From New York. In the midst of this reevaluation of the Master Of Horror’s work, it’s no surprise that one of his more overlooked films is feeling the spotlight.
Under his GoodBadFlicks YouTube channel, Cecil Trachenburg examines John Carpenter’s 1996 film Escape From L.A., the sequel to Escape From New York. The film is basically a left coast retread of the original with repetition of similar plot beats but slightly tweaked to seem somewhat different. Whereas the original relied mostly on practical effects and had a bleak tone, the second outing for anti-hero Snake Plissken is full of more jokes, winks at Los Angeles fame culture, and bad 1996 CGI that does not stand the test of time. There are still lots of little elements of the film to like, as Trachenburg points out, but it’s in a completely different tone, going for higher camp value than the original’s much more serious take on the outlandish premise.