Film Review: Escape From New York (1981)

Also known as: John Carpenter’s Escape From New York (complete title), Escape From New York City (script title)
Release Date: April 1st, 1981 (USA Film Festival)
Directed by: John Carpenter
Written by: John Carpenter, Nick Castle
Music by: John Carpenter, Alan Howarth
Cast: Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasence, Issac Hayes, Harry Dean Stanton, Adrienne Barbeau, Tom Atkins, Charles Cyphers, Frank Doubleday, Nancy Stephens, Buck Flower, Ox Baker, John Diehl, Carmen Filpi, Jamie Lee Curtis (voice)

Embassy Pictures, International Film Investors, Goldcrest Films International, 99 Minutes, 106 Minutes (extended version)

Review:

“It’s the survival of the human race, Plissken. Something you don’t give a shit about.” – Bob Hauk

When I was a really young kid, walking up and down the aisles of mom and pop video stores throughout Florida, I always used to come across the box art for Escape From New York and stare in awe. It’s one of the coolest and most iconic posters of all-time. Luckily for those who have seen the movie, it actually lives up to the incredible art that adorned the walls of movie theaters and video cassette boxes.

In fact, I’d call this the second most quintessential Kurt Russell movie just behind Big Trouble In Little China. The reason that other film gets the slight edge is because it shows the fun, comedic side of Russell more so than his gruffer more badass performance as Snake Plissken in this movie. Still, this is Kurt Russell at his absolute best and it’s not a surprise to me that he views this film as his favorite.

What’s great about this movie though, is that it doesn’t need to be carried by Russell. You’ve got a pretty solid ensemble cast of great character actors, all of whom bring their A-game and make this a much better picture than it would have been otherwise.

John Carpenter tapped the well of talent that he’s familiar with in Adrienne Barbeau, Charles Cyphers, Tom Atkins, Frank Doubleday, Donald Pleasence and Jamie Lee Curtis (doing a voice cameo) but he also brought in legends like Lee Van Cleef, Harry Dean Stanton, Ernest Borgnine and Issac Hayes. There are even bit parts for guys who are in a ton of flicks, most notably John Diehl, whose death I still haven’t gotten over in Miami Vice, and Carmen Filpi, who always played the old crazy guy in everything.

The film is about a post-apocalyptic New York City that is walled off from the rest of America and is now run by ruthless gangs. Snake is sent in to rescue the President, who is being held hostage by the baddest of all the gangs. If he fails, he will be killed by an implant that was injected into him. Honestly, that’s a little plot detail that was probably stolen for the Suicide Squad comics and movie. But then again, the whole concept of a walled off metropolis run by gangs was also stolen for the superb Batman story No Man’s Land.

That being said, this film created a lot of urban post-apocalyptic tropes that other films, television shows, books and comics would heavily borrow from.

John Carpenter really made magic with this film though. It was one of those perfect storm scenarios where everything seemed to go right, at least if you’re looking at the final product.

The film looks great, sounds great and has such a thick, brooding atmosphere that there really isn’t anything else like it. Sure, people have tried to emulate and recreate what this movie was but no one else has come close to it. Not even Carpenter, who gave us the sequel Escape From L.A., fifteen years later.

It’s hard to peg what makes this film so great but if I had to, I’d say that it’s everything. From the cast, the visual style, the story and the musical score, which was done by Carpenter, himself, and Alan Howarth, every thing just works and comes together like a perfect casserole.

Escape From New York is moody and cool. It’s a great example of Carpenter using all of his strengths and sort of misdirecting away from his weaknesses. While this isn’t his best film, it’s in his top two or three and definitely takes the cake out of his action flicks.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: it’s sequel, as well as other ’80s and ’90s John Carpenter movies.

Retro Relapse: Business Assholes, Volume 1: Chronic Interrupters

RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.

*Written in 2014.

I thought I’d start a new series of articles called Business Assholes.

Why?

Well, I deal with plenty on a regular basis and felt that there is too much to discuss in just one nice-sized write-up. There are various topics I want to talk about, so I’ll write them as I feel the need.

Today, I’m writing about chronic interrupters, which seems to be a problem I’ve been dealing with a lot in the company I work for. Now this isn’t just related to business, it is related to life. Pretty much everyone I deal with that harbors this bullshit behavior in business, also harbors it in their daily lives.

To start, have you ever been talking to a business colleague about an important project, going through the fine details, and then some asshole cuts in to bitch and complain about their vacation time or how rude their superior is or whatever – completely fucking up your important conversation? Or have you ever been in a meeting and everyone in the room continues to shout over one another, competing for air time, not paying attention to what anyone else is actually saying and only waiting for their moment to butt in? Or have you been furiously cranking away on a project that requires your full attention and someone constantly has to hover over your monitor to talk to you about things like hair dye, True Blood or their boyfriend’s inability to fry chicken? Maybe you’ve experienced the shared office situation, where a small group of boisterous buffoons constantly makes a racket because they are oblivious to the fact that they aren’t the center of the universe? This shit happens to me multiple times per day and I’m sure it happens to others just as frequently.

The point is, all this is bad for business. The chronic interrupter butting in to bitch about things out of their control and not giving a shit that you and a colleague are working on something vital for the company, is a knife stabbed into the back of productivity. The distraction takes your mind away from the details and sabotages your ability to be thorough. If this happens regularly, mistakes will happen. Additionally, the constant stream of negative bitching just ruins everyone else’s day and stifles morale. While I feel that all of this is common sense, apparently 95 percent of my office mates haven’t yet come to this pretty easy conclusion in their long and storied careers. Plus, to the chronic interrupter who thrives on bitching, you’re a fucking downer and no one likes a fucking downer. We already know that you hate everyone and everything, we don’t need an hourly reminder.

Moving on to meetings full of chronic interrupters, this sort of situation is the harbinger of doom for many companies. Speaking from my personal experience, I find myself in daily meetings where everyone is shouting, arguing and competing for the spotlight. No one pays attention and even if one tried, there is so much shit being thrown up on the wall by multiple people with conflicting ideas, that one’s brain might explode trying to decipher the supernova-like clusterfuck. I’ve tried to take notes, there is no point. You’d have just as much solid information to walk away with by drawing doodles of fez-wearing stegosauruses eating pineapple upside-down cake. In many of my situations, nothing gets accomplished in these meetings except more confusion, more uncertainty and the need to have follow up meetings because no one is really ever on the same page. And with each meeting comes more frustration and disorientation. It’s like riding on a turbulent airplane and having to set down in every town, never reaching your actual destination because you’re burning through all of your fuel.

Meetings like the ones described above, lead to people playing the blame game and pointing fingers. Nothing is accomplished, at least not to its full capacity and usually the boss man is pissed off and ready to put the whole company on the chopping block. Moving forward, these chronic interrupters don’t learn from their disorganized egomaniacal chaos and continue down the same path, always befuddled as to why nothing ever gets done exactingly and speedily. They even resent the idea that they might be part of the problem because if everyone would’ve just listened to them in the first place, their wouldn’t have been any issues or snags to begin with. Now imagine a half dozen people passionately thinking and believing that same thing.

Then there are the people who constantly bother you throughout the day. They rarely do any work and find themselves wandering around the office looking for conversation. There is an innate neediness that these people cling to and unfortunately for those of us just trying to do our job and get through the day, we are often times forced to be the audience of their irritating circus. Apparently wearing a mask that explicitly says “fuck off” isn’t enough of a defense against these self-absorbed time wasters and productivity killers. Flatly stating “I’m really busy” doesn’t seem to thwart them either. They will continue to hover until there is that split second opening where they can spill out their soul on a variety of topics that have nothing to do with anything. Well, maybe they do but I don’t pay attention, as I intently stare at my monitor until the twenty minutes of weasel chatter has concluded for that hour.

This brings me to the example of obnoxious coteries and posses in a shared office space. They tend to exist in their little group and anything outside of it doesn’t matter to them. They think they’re the life of the party, the official workplace fun crew and want to push their party hard philosophy on everyone else within earshot. I like having fun, I like being able to pay my bills more. I’m not saying to not have fun at the work place but a 24/7 frat party when there is a lot to do is disruptive as hell to those who are trying to keep things running smoothly, while picking up the slack of the party clique. Like the other types of chronic interrupters discussed above, this shit kills productivity and somewhere someone has to keep the ball moving forward. Unfortunately, the person picking up the slack is the one being interrupted by the slack.

All these behaviors mentioned are the qualities of rude self-absorbed people. I’m not saying that they are bad people but they have bad behaviors. Maybe I’m a hypocritical asshole for pointing this stuff out because I have some bad behaviors myself. However, I rarely, if ever, do anything to disrupt the workflow of other people. Sure, we all need to bitch about something, or passionately state our ideas in a room full of people but there is a time and a place for it. In an organized, respectful environment, everyone gets their turn and everyone should have their turn. In return, people should shut the fuck up and listen: respectfully.

Moving beyond the workplace, most of these people that behave this way while on the clock, do the same thing when they’re out in the world. In my personal life, I have no tolerance for it. Then again, in my personal life, I can tell people to “fuck off” and I don’t have to frolic around in public with them. I can’t choose my work mates but I can choose my friends. When happy hour rolls around after work, I can ditch the simple minded idiots and slam whiskey with my respectable and righteous brethren.

Do I have advice for the chronic interrupters on how to improve themselves? Yes, don’t do all the shit I just talked about. The problem is, most of these people are oblivious in regards to their condition. We live in a “now!” and a “me! me! me!” society. A lot of shit’s broken. None of it will probably be fixed. I’m not trying to be a pessimistic bitch but this is the way it is, especially when in most cases, leadership is to blame.

As for me, I’ll continue to go about my day in a respectable manner, dealing with this epidemic that probably won’t go away.

Book Review: ‘The Art of Red Sonja, Vol. 2’ by Various

Where the first volume in The Art of Red Sonja covered a lot of her earliest stuff, this one focuses more on her modern covers since she’s been at Dynamite Entertainment.

While I’d say that this one didn’t captivate me as much as the first volume, the vast majority of the artwork featured here is still great and worthy of being collected into this second book.

I’m a current reader of all the current Red Sonja titles and this book actually makes me wish that Dynamite was still doing covers with the quality of these earlier Red Sonja issues.

That’s not to knock the current art but the stuff featured in this book is much better and more reminiscent of the old Spanish and Italian pulp paintings from half a century ago. The art on many of the covers in this book remind me of the superb art from the Warren Publishing era of Vampirella.

There is also a lot of art pieces that are done in a more modern style but it’s the classic looking stuff that really pops off of the page. And frankly, sword and sorcery artwork, at least the covers, should look and feel like the art decorating the old van of the town metalhead.

Some of the pieces also look like pop art, manga or like Disney run amok. Those styles aren’t really my favorite for this character but it’s neat seeing them alongside some of the more traditional art pieces.

While not as solid, overall, as the first volume in this art book series, this one is still worth checking out if you enjoy Red Sonja or fantasy pulp art.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other art books put out by Dynamite Entertainment that features the history of the characters they publish.

Comic Review: G.I. Joe: Sierra Muerte

Published: August 28th, 2019
Written by: Michel Fiffe
Art by: Michel Fiffe
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro

IDW Publishing, 107 Pages

Review:

I remember when this book was coming out, people online were trashing the art. I thought that some of the people behind the comments just didn’t know who Michel Fiffe was and hadn’t seen his work elsewhere but honestly, I can’t say that the criticisms were wrong.

You see, this is a G.I. Joe comic book. It is a licensed property that IDW Publishing pays a lot of money for in order to create content for the Hasbro owned toy brand in the comic book medium. This is the most important factor in why my criticism of this miniseries is about to turn really f’n harsh.

To put it bluntly, Fiffe’s art style isn’t for everyone and that’s the real problem. It’s like IDW got an indie artist with a unique style and thought that this would somehow sell G.I. Joe comics. Well, G.I. Joe comics haven’t sold well in years, so I’m not sure what made IDW think that bringing in an artist with a non-traditional style would somehow appeal to more people than the few they’re actually selling these G.I. Joe books to.

If you are paying a lot of money for the rights to publish a brand you don’t own, don’t you want that brand to make you the most money as possible in order to get a return on your licensing fees, as well as making a boatload of profit? If the answer is “no”, then why the fuck are you a business? If the answer is “yes”, then why the fuck wouldn’t you put out a product tailored to appeal to the largest audience possible?

Furthermore, do you understand the G.I. Joe brand that you are paying all this money for? I’d say “no”, as your helping to kill it off permanently between this miniseries, Paul Allor’s current series and all that Aubrey Sitterson crap from two years ago. Hell, even the regular series that Larry Hama is still working on feels like it’s an afterthought and aimless, pointless schlock that’s so far removed from the spirit of the series, it can’t find its way back. But I don’t blame Hama, the dude’s been writing G.I. Joe for almost forty years.

Point being, this absolutely does not look the way a G.I. Joe comic book should look. Do you even know who the audience for this franchise is? Do you care? Or is everything you do a tax write-off since your company has been losing its ass for a few years now.

But none of this is to knock on Michel Fiffe’s personal art style. It’s just not the right style for a brand that is beloved by adults, many former veterans, that want their Joes to be badass and always look badass.

I should probably also mention that the story here felt rushed and wasn’t very coherent. This probably needed more than three issues to tell its story or it needed to be a smaller story without so many characters shoehorned into it.

I’m pretty sure IDW is mostly dead, at this point. Well, except for the money Marvel’s throwing them to keep them afloat and printing their D-level titles.

But if anyone from Hasbro is out there, what the fuck, guys? I want this brand to be as great as it once was and it has a rich enough mythos and backlog of stories and superb characters to always have something to say. I just wish the people that owned G.I. Joe gave a shit about it as much as the fans that still exist do.

Rating: 3/10
Pairs well with: other post-Chuck Dixon/Mike Costa era G.I. Joe comics put out by IDW i.e. the shitty ones.

Vids I Dig 172: Strip Panel Naked: Using 3D Space in 2D Comic Books

From Strip Panel Naked’s YouTube description: On this episode I look at how Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely and Jamie Grant build a constant approach to showing three-dimensional depth in their comic ‘We3’. Using a constant camera angle that shows off three levels of content, foreground, mid ground and background, in almost every panel. It also leans into that way to show certain movement, showing it not as lateral left to right movement and but as back to front movement. It aims to create a real sense of place and three-dimensional space.

Talking Pulp: The National Wrestling Alliance: Out of the Fire

For almost two decades now, World Wrestling Entertainment hasn’t had any real competition, at least in the United States, its home country. But even on a worldwide scale, it’s been pretty hard for other companies to rise up and challenge them. It’s become an empire, poaching the best talent from everywhere on Earth while becoming a boring shell of what it once was. Because without someone really on your heels, what are you running from and what are you running towards?

In the last year or so, the landscape has changed pretty immensely.

Ex-WWE stars and other stars not wanting to ply their trade in that company (because of how they’ve wasted and misused talent) have started to band together, make noise and a new company has formed: All Elite Wrestling.

This fledgling AEW is being bankrolled by the Khan family, who own the Jacksonville Jaguars and Fulham F.C. after becoming billionaires in the automotive parts industry.

The Khans teamed up with an ex-WWE star, Cody Rhodes, as well as some of the top North American wrestlers that were working in Japan, one of which is arguably the best in the world, right now: Kenny Omega.

They then started doing their own pay-per-view events, showcasing all the great talent that left WWE or that didn’t want to go there. Then they got a major television deal with TNT, the same network that used to host World Championship Wrestling’s weekly Nitro program, the show that nearly broke WWE two decades ago until WCW imploded.

Companies like Ring of Honor and Impact (formerly TNA) started stepping their game way up. New Japan Pro-Wrestling started coming Stateside and everything started to evolve in an exciting way.

But this isn’t really about any of those companies. It’s about the one really old promotion that seemingly hadn’t come up for air in a really long time. A promotion that no one was looking at because for most fans, old and new, it had died out years ago, even if its championships still existed and were contested for at indy wrestling shows that didn’t have much, if any, national exposure.

I’m talking about the National Wrestling Alliance, the NWA, the once gigantic organization that served as a network and governing body between all the territories in the United States.

The thing is, the NWA never really left. On the grander scale of the professional wrestling landscape, however, it hasn’t made very much noise in quite some time. In fact, it’s been pretty damn mum and kind of an afterthought once the WWE absorbed it’s top competitors and nearly every major video library of every territory that got swallowed up by the global juggernaut. They even absorbed the libraries of several NWA-allied companies from yesteryear.

Two years ago, Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins fame bought the National Wrestling Alliance. He had some prior experience running Revolution Pro Wrestling and handling creative for TNA, now Impact Wrestling. However, TNA had a lot of issues and Corgan ended up on the outs. But he had always had a love for professional wrestling and decided to purchase the NWA with the hopes of building it back up into the large brand that it once was.

In the time since, Corgan has grown the NWA’s exposure and with the help of his current world champion, Nick Aldis, he’s brought some real prominence back to the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship.

The title was defended in a major marquee match at the culture shifting pay-per-view event All In. Aldis even dropped the title to the soon-to-be AEW Executive Vice President, Cody Rhodes. Although, Aldis won it back a few months later in another massive match that got a lot of exposure.

The thing is, people were talking about the NWA and it’s premier title once again. It had national exposure, it helped make Aldis a more recognized performer on a larger scale and it planted seeds for something bigger on the horizon.

So back in October of this year, AEW was finally ready to debut their television show on Wednesday nights. WWE then decided to take their developmental brand, NXT, off of their WWE Network streaming service in order to move it to television, on the USA Network, to go head-to-head with AEW in order to try and keep that brand from becoming a juggernaut on the level that WCW once was. You know, because Vince McMahon is kind of a dick and has to own it all, unopposed.

This battle for wrestling ratings supremacy was coined the Wednesday Night War, as a play on words of the Monday Night War that was the nickname of the intense ratings battles between WWF Raw and WCW Nitro from 1995 through 2001.

But while all this was going on, the National Wrestling Alliance decided that it was going to return to the ways of old and start filming wrestling shows in a studio setting like they used to do in the ’80s, at the height of the organization’s popularity.

Knowing that nostalgia can be a very good thing and that this sort of studio presentation would generate the right kind of feeling in old school wrestling fans that miss the days of yore, Billy Corgan gave us NWA Power.

Personally, I was aware that the show was coming and that it would be broadcast on YouTube weekly on Tuesdays at 6:05, similar to how the NWA shows of old started at :05 on the hour because that’s how TBS did things back then. But I didn’t know what to expect or if I’d even like the end product that much. I knew it was going for the nostalgia thing and while that made me happy, I was unsure of what the end result would be. It could be disastrous if handled poorly and in a cheesy, hammy way that insulted fans’ intelligence.

Then the first episode dropped and as soon as I heard Dokken’s “Into the Fire” blare through my TV’s stereo speakers, I was immediately in the right place. I felt a nice ease come over my body, releasing the apprehension I had and then I heard Jim Cornette’s voice, the excitement of the live crowd in the studio and the classic blue ring apron and a set that looked like it was from the era it was emulating.

I didn’t care that NWA Power looked dated, that’s what made it so damn cool. But it also didn’t just rely on that. It taps into the right vibe and hits the right notes for fans of what the NWA once was but it doesn’t rely so much on old faces, as it showcases a lot of young, newer talent, most of whom seem like they’ve got legit chops in the ring and in the realm of being entertainers.

As each new episode dropped, my rekindled love of the National Wrestling Alliance grew. And despite the great shows that AEW and NXT have been putting out since the start of their war, it’s NWA Power that I most look forward to each week. There’s just something special about it. It’s pure and it sparks that feeling that I used to get watching wrestling when I was a kid. But nostalgia alone can’t do that.

NWA Power has stars and I don’t mean that to come across like they’re the stars of tomorrow. No. These are the stars of today. And while they might not be on the biggest platform, that doesn’t mean that they can’t compete and also, who’s to say that the biggest platform is the right platform for everyone? It’s been clear that it hasn’t been right for a lot of wrestling talent. And, at the end of the day, where the biggest platform fails their talent, it only benefits companies like the National Wrestling Alliance.

Billy Corgan has big plans for new things going forward. There’s a reality show starting soon, which works as a talent search for indy wrestlers that want a shot at being on NWA Power. There is also pay-per-views, which the NWA has streaming through Fite TV, an app worth getting. Plus, there’s the ongoing Ten Pounds of Gold documentary series that follows the story of the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship.

So this Saturday night, the NWA is putting on a big pay-per-view called Into the Fire. And that’s honestly the inspiration for me to put down my thoughts in this article. Reason being, I haven’t been this excited for a wrestling pay-per-view in decades, as far back as the Monday Night War era.

I feel like I just have to tip my hat to the National Wrestling Alliance, Billy Corgan, Dave Lagana, Nick Aldis and all the talent in front of and behind the camera for making me feel as excited as I do. Being a wrestling fan has been a really rocky road for a long time with only one big show in town. But now things are changing and weathering the storm ended up being worth it.

While the big pay-per-view is called Into the Fire, the National Wrestling Alliance really just rose like a phoenix out of the fire: reborn and ready to ignite the hearts of fans across the globe.