John Carpenter has turned out some excellent low-budget cult classics over the years. Assault on Precinct 13, They Live, Big Trouble in Little China...
(Edit: Originally listed The Thing as a low-budget film, as the comments point out, for it's time it was not)
But probably the best out of all of his works, in my humble opinion (well, I guess it can't be that humble, I feel the need to tell all of you about it!) is the aforementioned Escape From New York.
It is just the perfect combination of writing, acting and action. The main crux of it is, It's the future of 1997, the entire city of New York has been turned into a prison. The President of the USA has been captured by the inmates. they send in Kurt Russel.
Of course, that sounds simplistic, but the writing in the film is more nuanced than my very brief description makes it sound. in fact, in the special features on my DVD, Cyberpunk writer William Gibson said that one scene from the films opening moments impressed him, despite seeming like a throwaway line, and was an influence on his influential novel "Neuromancer" (a great read, by the way)
Kurt Russell is just fantastic in this film, he was just coming off from all those Disney starring roles and was wishing to shed that image. Man, was this the perfect film to do it in. He's violent, sarcastic, and has a problem with authority figures. so, not a family friendly figure then. the rest of the performances range from reserved to fabulously ridiculous. Kurt Russel is the obvious standout, but Isaac Hayes (otherwise known as "The Chef") can hold his own as the Duke of New York, the main villain of this film.
Carpenter has a habit of multi-tasking, and on this film he directed, co-wrote, and composed the soundtrack. the music for this film is all 80's synthesizers and while it may sound outdated to some, I find it actually adds to the film.
When you watch the film, it will become clear why John Carpenter has developed a reputation for being able to shoot films with a tight budget. quite a few of the effects are obviously dated, but the film perfectly creates the image of a desolate and worn out New York City.
So to summarize: fans of action films, this film is a definite recommendation for you. buy or rent this film, trust me when I say it's a must watch.
Bigger is not always better and remakes often are better left unmade sometimes. Case in point, John Carpenter got a big budget to make Escape from LA 17 years after he made his low budget classic Escape from New York. It was almost the same movie but with a garish budget and a largely recycled story. It pales in comparison to this one. In the opening credits, the stage is set for us, in the near future (1988) the crime in the US rose exponentially … more
Escape from New York is one of the best films that John Carpenter has ever directed. A low budget science fiction action film that's still cool today. Kurt Russell also earns a life time man card for breathing life into one of the greatest anti-heroes to ever grace their presence upon the silver screen. During the eighties, John Carpenter produced several classic films. A few of them are highly underrated and they have been dismissed by the critics and viewing public. The … more