The Ultimate Escape From New York Movie Quiz

John Miller

Image: Production companies Embassy Pictures New Line Cinema Goldcrest Films

About This Quiz

Manhattan is a prison, and the president is its newest inmate. Someone has to save the leader of the free world. How much do you know about the gritty action movie "Escape from New York"?

"Escape from New York" is a classic action film from 1981. Who is the star of the movie?

Back in the 80s, Kurt Russell was a hot product, but not necessarily in action films. He eventually became the star of movies like "Tequila Sunrise" and "Big Trouble in Little China."

The movie is set in 1997. What has happened to New York City?

In 1988, due to a huge spike in crime levels, the government turned Manhattan into an enormous maximum-security prison. It's a deadly place where gangs roam, plotting to hurt one another.

Kurt Russell plays the part of a former Special Forces soldier who is now a prisoner in New York. What's his name?

Russell is the former special-ops soldier named "Snake" Plissken who is in a federal prison. Because the authorities can't enter the prison, he's released and told to rescue the president -- and if he succeeds, he'll win his freedom.

What special item makes Snake stand out in a crowd?

Snake fittingly wears an eye patch. It makes him look like a modern-day pirate, which is essentially what his character becomes.

Snake is told to save the president, or else. How do prison officials know that Snake will do his best to save the president?

Prison officials inject tiny explosives into Snake's body. If he doesn't save the president in a day, the explosives will detonate and kill Snake instantly.

Who directed the movie?

John Carpenter, the mastermind behind the first "Halloween" movie, was the movie's director. He also co-wrote the screenplay.

There is a sequel to this movie. In the sequel, Snake must escape from which city?

In 1996, Kurt Russell reprised his role as Snake in "Escape from L.A." Both Carpenter and Russell helped to write the movie, which portrays L.A. as hell on Earth.

In addition to co-writing the script and directing, what other job did Carpenter perform in the making of the movie?

He created the music along with Alan Howarth. Carpenter is a jack-of-all-trades on Hollywood productions, making him a well-rounded director.

As the movie begins, the U.S. president's plane is hijacked. What does the hijacker do to the president?

The hijacker handcuffs a briefcase bomb to the president's wrist. Then he takes the president hostage, and they crash into the prison of Manhattan. They survive, and the president becomes a tool for negotiations.

Snake uses a glider to fly into Manhattan. Where does he land?

In a dramatic scene, Snake glides to the top of the World Trade Center. Then his rescue mission begins in earnest.

The bridges leading out of Manhattan are extremely treacherous. Why?

The bridges are all heavily mined. If you want to escape Manhattan on foot, you either need to be very lucky … or you need to know where the mines are placed.

Which actor plays the role of the president?

Donald Pleasence plays the president. Pleasence is yet another star from Carpenter's "Halloween." He played the role of Dr. Loomis.

The name "Snake" Plissken came from a real person.

Through the grapevine, John Carpenter heard about a tough guy named Snake Plissken and found out that the man had a snake tattoo, too. He decided the name was perfect for his main character.

The story takes place in NYC. Where was it filmed?

The film's action sequences were too ambitious to be filmed in New York City. It would have been a nightmare to film in the city's busy streets. So instead, they found a burned-out area of St. Louis that fit the story.

Who performs the film's narration?

Jamie Lee Curtis does an uncredited performance as narrator and as the voice of a computer. Curtis, of course, was the star of Carpenter's breakout hit "Halloween."

As Snake tries to save the president, an evil man opposes him. What's his name?

The Duke of New York is the crime boss who is holding the president hostage. He and his henchmen will stop at nothing to prevent the president from leaving Manhattan.

Snake finds the president at Grand Central Station. Then what happens?

The Duke's men capture Snake as he attempts to rescue the president. Then, the Duke forces Snake to fight one of his (very large) henchmen.

The movie was made in 1981 for what sort of budget?

In 1981, $6 million was about average for an action movie. And the film did well financially once it hit theaters.

The movie grossed more than $100 million.

Not even close to $100 million. "Escape from New York" grossed around $25 million at box offices. It wasn't a killing, but it turned out to be a solid investment for the studio.

The Duke of New York plans to use the president for which purpose?

The Duke plans to use the president as a hostage to escape. He wants to march the president as a human shield to the gates of the prison and then, to freedom.

The film takes place in a dark, apocalyptic setting. How did director John Carpenter make the area look so dark?

Carpenter convinced St. Louis officials to turn off the electricity to several city blocks each night. For about two months, the crew worked mostly at night to get the nighttime shots they needed.

Tom Cruise nearly got the part of Snake Plissken.

Cruise wasn’t in consideration. But other huge names were in the mix, such as Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones and Charles Bronson. Carpenter insisted that Russell play the part, and his opinion won.

The movie is based on which other work of art?

The movie's story and characters emerged from the imaginations of John Carpenter and Nick Castle. It's inspired other works of art, from novels to comic books to video games.

The movie did well at theaters but was gut-punched by critics.

Not only did it make money, but "Escape from New York" was also a hit with critics. They praised Russell's acting and the grimy, gritty environment in which the story takes place.

In one scene, Snake fights to the death with a character named Slag, played by Ox Baker. What was one of Baker's jobs in real life?

Ox Baker was an actor and professional wrestler. He got too rough with Russell during the big fight scene and Russell had to tell him to back off.

Snake is tasked with saving the president, but he's also supposed to retrieve an important cassette tape. What's on the tape?

The tape describes a destructive new type of bomb. The government doesn't want criminals to listen to the tape, for obvious reasons.

John Carpenter wrote the movie in response to which real-world event?

Carpenter wrote the dark movie as an artistic response to the Watergate scandal. For years, no studio was interested in the story's overly dark content.

Some of the New York scenes were actually shot on Liberty Island.

Carpenter managed to get permission to shoot on Liberty Island, just below the Statue of Liberty. It was the first film to receive such permission.

At the end of the movie, the Duke is killed. Who shoots him?

In a moment of chaos, the president grabs Duke's rifle. Then he shoots the crime boss dead.

Snake and the president end the movie as best friends.

The president haughtily dismisses the lives of the people who died trying to save him from the Duke. Snake is revolted by the president's behavior and he skulks off … and won't be seen again on the big screen until 1996.

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