Anyone who’s read my output on this website will know that I adore the work of John Carpenter. His output in a relatively short period of time (roughly 1976 to 1988) was among the best of any director ever. For a few years though, he couldn’t miss, putting out films like Halloween, The Fog, and The Thing in rapid succession.
One of the films of his I adore is his 1981 nihilistic sci-fi/action opus, Escape from New York, which introduced the world to Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken. However, a movie I never really cared for was Carpenter’s 1996 sequel, Escape from L.A. I always just found it derivative and boring. A new mash-up video by Vimeo user whoispablo shows me, however, that Carpenter likely knew exactly what he was doing, and was making fun of sequels in general…because things aren’t just the same, they’re EXACTLY the same.
Boy howdy, how did I miss that? If a filmmaker revisits characters, or redoes similar themes, ideas, and even plots, you can accuse them of being self-copying; if a filmmaker recreates entire shots on top of all of these things, they’re probably pointing out how silly the idea of a sequel is. “You guys want another Snake Plissken movie? How about I give you rubes the exact same movie again, just in a different city?” Carpenter’s always been very anti-establishment, which only got more pronounced the older he got and he had less and less to prove to anyone. It seems my distaste for L.A. may have just been a misreading of the intent behind the movie.
What do you think? Was Carpenter a mad genius being incredibly postmodern, or was he just ripping himself off for the purposes of money? Or both? Let me know in the comments below!
Images: Paramount Pictures/AVCO Embassy Pictures
Kyle Anderson is the Weekend Editor and a film and TV critic for Nerdist.com. Follow him on Twitter!