Home » Script to Pieces: John Carpenter’s Escape from Earth

Script to Pieces: John Carpenter’s Escape from Earth

Escape from New York

Welcome to Script to Pieces, a recurring feature at Wicked Horror where we look at the best, most interesting and at times most unbelievable horror movies that never happened. Sometimes these will be productions that never came together at all, other times, they will be original incarnations that were completely different from what we wound up with. Each should be fascinating in its own way, because the stories of movies that never see the light of day can sometimes be even more interesting than the stories of those that do.

With recent news of the Escape from New York reboot/prequel picking up steam, there’s no better time to look back on where things could have gone had John Carpenter, Kurt Russell and of course their iconic antihero Snake Plissken reteamed for one more outing.

While Carpenter returned to co-write and produce Halloween II and produce Halloween III: Season of the Witch, the only time he ever directed a sequel to one of his own films was 1996’s Escape from L.A.

When Carpenter and Russell reteamed for that film, they seemed pretty determined that it would not be the last Snake Plissken adventure. Even then, they began talking about Escape from Earth, joking that it was basically the only place Snake had left to escape.

escape from new york

The idea of a third film being about Snake escaping the planet makes sense given how Escape from L.A. ends. However people feel about the sequel, it has an incredibly bold ending. Snake finds the weapon that’s threatening the whole world, the thing he’s been tasked to find that could send humanity back to the dark ages, and decides to set it off himself. Proving himself one of the most careless, unpredictable badasses in cinema Snake takes it upon himself to hit the reset button on humanity because they’ve screwed things up beyond repair.

According to Russell, “The only other one I wanted to do, both John and I thought Escape from Earth for Snake.”

A third film would have to be set in a world without any kind of electrical power. This time, the entire planet would be a warzone. It would obviously have been Plissken’s biggest adventure yet. Everything about the idea is enticing, but sadly it never came to pass.

Escape from New YorkThe most obvious reason as to why we never saw this sequel would be that Escape from L.A. was a critical and financial flop. People didn’t react well to its more over-the-top, almost cartoonish nature and expected something more along the lines of the grittiness of the first. While Escape from L.A. does reach some absurd heights, it’s really not that far off from most other ‘90s action movies.

In the mid-2000s, about the time talk of a remake began, there was Internet buzz that Carpenter had finished a script for Escape from Earth and that Russell was trying to get it off the ground before he signed a three-picture deal at Paramount. But this all turned out to be nothing more than a rumor.

Still, Carpenter doesn’t rule anything out. “Maybe. There are always new stories, but I wouldn’t consider doing anything without Kurt. And I don’t think he wants to play old Snake. I don’t have any problems with old Snake. It’d be a lot of fun.”

escape-ny-snakeRussell confirmed Carpenter’s suspicions about the actor not wanting to play an aged version of the character, saying “I never wanted to do Snake old… if you’re going to do him, do him young. He’s one of those guys.”

There was at one point talk of doing Escape from Earth as an Anime with Russell returning to provide the voice of Snake, but it never happened.

In addition to the sequel that never saw the light of day, we also nearly had both a Snake Plissken video game and TV series. Titled Snake Plissken’s Escape, the video game was almost completed in 2004 before its cancellation. It had approval from all three major creative parties; John Carpenter, Kurt Russell and the late Debra Hill. It also seemed to take many cues from Escape from Earth.

In the early 2000s, Carpenter, Hill and Russell hashed out plans for a TV series that Hill claimed to be mapped out to 100 episodes. By all accounts they were happy with the concept and eager to move ahead with producing the series, but it was turned down by all major networks for being “too dark and bleak.”

With the remake/prequel on the horizon, it seems pretty certain that we’re never going to see Escape from Earth on the big screen at any point. But with Escape from New York making the recent leap to comics, it would be neat to see that story adapted for a budget-less medium.

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Written by Nat Brehmer
In addition to contributing to Wicked Horror, Nathaniel Brehmer has also written for Horror Bid, HorrorDomain, Dread Central, Bloody Disgusting, We Got This Covered, and more. He has also had fiction published in Sanitarium Magazine, Hello Horror, Bloodbond and more. He currently lives in Florida with his wife and his black cat, Poe.
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