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4 Responses

  1. Wow. You don’t even *like* Escape From New York. Man! There’s only one thing I can say to that.

    You are not alone.

    I want to. I’ve tried to, though not recently. I know I “should” enjoy it, and not for some Film Card reason, but just because so many people genuinely do like it. But honestly, I just get bored, and bored fast.

    I’m never one to pat people on the back for a contrarian view, even if I also hold it. Logically, it is much more likely that the one who likes a thing sees value the disliker missed than it is that the one who dislikes a thing sees a void the favorably disposed person missed. You can’t really miss a void; its absence accomplishes all of the work. So when I’m out of step in the negative direction, I don’t champion my better taste so much as I hope I might come around down the road. The more you like, the happier you are.

    So that’s not what I’m doing. I’m just saying that you’re not alone on this one. WAY not.

    • Jim says:

      It’s not that I DON’T like it – there were fun, enjoyable parts that entertained me – I just don’t see anything in it at this point in my life and in history to understand why it became such a beloved classic. Having said that, I’d be totally open to having a conversation with someone who loves it because I want to know what they saw in it and what they appreciate about it. I do wonder how much initial viewing context (when the person saw it the first time, what was going on in the world, etc.) comes into play with something that is so thoroughly a product of its era.

  2. FictionIsntReal says:

    You say Carpenter wasn’t that good of a director “yet”, but he’d already made Halloween in 1978, which I’d argue not only codified one of the major sub-genres of horror but also holds up very well today. If one ponders why you don’t enjoy Escape From New York as much as The Thing or (I assume) Halloween, a possibility is that Escape is both original and somewhat ambitious in depicting an alternate future. Carpenter let certain elements of backstory go unexplained, like everyone being aware of Snake but thinking he’s dead, and that didn’t sit well with you. The Thing is an adaptation of a short story he could rely on, whereas Halloween is set in our own familiar world (just with this one extra character who is unfamiliar to everyone but Loomis).

    Your attempts to interpret Carpenter’s films remind me of our disagreement on James Whale. I know Carpenter has a distinctive political perspective, but I’m more reliant on the “text” of the film and inclined to believe that he was just making low-budget exploitation movies that he hoped the audience would enjoy. This is his explicit stance on the “morals” of Halloween.

    • Jim says:

      As much as I do love Halloween (and I love it a lot), I’ll also readily admit that a lot of that has to do with personal subjectivity. If someone were to tell me that they didn’t like Halloween because of stiff acting, some suspect editing, and a script that’s a bit on the nose at times, I would totally understand. George Miller let a lot of stuff go unexplained in the world he built with Mad Max Fury Road (another story that I would say is an original and ambitious depiction of an alternate future), but that one works because it only needs to give you the bare minimum of groundwork to understand its world of balls to the wall spectacle.

      As for Carpenter’s perspective, I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree. I don’t think that the director’s voice is entirely insignificant, but I do think that larger factors in the world – be they societal, political, emotional, etc. – cannot help but influence and shape a person who is a product of those systems. If Carpenter were just trying to make superficial exploitation films, I would respect him a lot less as a director as it would essentially rob him of any unique voice or perspective.

      It also should be noted, however, that exploitation sub-genres emerged as filmic responses to societal and historical trends.

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