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Escape From New Hampshire

In recent years we've been treated to a host of Escape Films: Jurassic Park, Deep Blue Sea, The Cube, etc. The Escape Film -- popularized by the classic Escape From New York and epitomized by the forgotten No Escape -- is a subgenre of The Action Blockbuster, and typically features a band of plucky and determined men (although, as demonstrated by Alien and Aliens, occasionally women) trapped in a remote and inhospitable geographical location. The band must fight against impossible odds and a host of enemies to reach some far off haven of safety.

Each of the characters in the Escape Movie has a distinct personality and skill set -- The Hero, The Strategist, The Mechanic, The Wiseacre -- and although they might not like each other, they recognize that they have to work together if they wish to survive. As the movie progresses, the team members are picked off one by one, with each fatality receiving a big, dramatic Death Scene. If the character is a good guy, his final moments involve sacrificing himself so that the others can go on; if the character is unlikable, however, he is usually attacked from behind just after betraying his comrades.

By the time the final credits role, only The Hero remains alive. There's usually some sort of fake-out at the end, where it looks like two people will survive, but then #2 inevitably blurts out "We made it!" and is immediately shot or eaten or vaporized by Final Bad Guy, who we thought was killed half an hour ago. The Hero, after bellowing a lusty "Noooo!," engages Final Bad Guy in the biggest, most blowing-up battle of the entire film and, when victorious, wipes the blood from his forearms and rides off into the sunset.

The Democratic Presidential Primary should totally be more like this.

Posted on August 05, 2003 to Politics


It could be called "Escape from Irrelevance."

Posted by: jdodd on August 6, 2003 12:20 PM

I would in fact posit that the first Alien film was a Haunted House story (enclosed space, scary thing, picks people off, can't get away). II and III were Escape Films, and *Resurrection*, I'm not all too sure of, but then again, I don't think anyone was.

Posted by: Liz on August 6, 2003 1:36 PM

Let us not forget the grand-daddy of them all, "The Great Escape."

Posted by: eggi on August 6, 2003 2:25 PM

Everytime someone mentions Escape from New York, I'm haunted by an old SNL sketch, in which a multiplex theater has been turned into a maximum-security prison: Escape from Escape from New York.

Posted by: KF on August 6, 2003 2:34 PM

my hubby is a rabid 'b' movie and all around bad film buff and he told me that the "escape from..." movies were originally visualized as a trilogy:
Escape from NY
Escape from LA
Escape from the Earth
can't imagine why they haven't moved forward on that last one ;)

Posted by: Kal on August 6, 2003 2:44 PM

Lieberman (angrily): "I told Dean not to go there... I told him he was taking too big a risk! Now he's gone and gotten his campaign blown up... let that be a lesson to the rest of you!"

Posted by: Undertoad on August 6, 2003 2:59 PM

If you're implying that Lieberman is the Hero, who survives, I must disagree. I think he's the guy in the pack who has been in a similar situation before and is haunted by the memories, and occasionally moans "it's happening again...it's happening again," only to eventually be killed, much to the satisfaction of the audience.

Posted by: Squidocto on August 6, 2003 3:56 PM

al gore was the fake out guy that you like, kinda, who you think makes it, but gets eaten in the end.

i KNEW that whole florida thing seemed familiar.

speaking of SNL, i still love the one where bush and cheney are talking and bush says, this is a joke isnt it? someone is just messing with me! and cheney says...i think that EVERY day sir.

Posted by: lisa on August 6, 2003 4:15 PM

I just want to know why the wiseacre has skills that everybody recognizes they'll need in order to survive.

Hero: I don't know about you guys, but I'm bustin' out of here.
Everybody: Yeah!
The Strategist: If we time it just right, when can escape in a laundry truck while the guards are switching shifts.
The Mechanic: I can hotwire that truck, no sweat.
Hero: That's all fine, but who will provide tension-relieving sarcasm?!
The Wiseacre: Oh, I don't know... your MOM?
Everybody: [laughs]

Posted by: Hildago on August 6, 2003 6:45 PM

hahaha, thats the funniest thing i've read since "Darth Vader Made Me Cry"

Posted by: Jaju on August 7, 2003 2:24 AM

hahaha, thats the funniest thing i've read since "Darth Vader Made Me Cry"

Posted by: Jaju on August 7, 2003 2:24 AM

Link to No Escape appears broken, which, in context, amuses. Nonetheless:

Posted by: jdroscha on August 7, 2003 6:43 AM

John Carpenter's "The Thing" was a great example of the escape genre.

Posted by: Tasso on August 7, 2003 6:47 AM

As long as we get that ending (i.e., the remaining Democrat gets to ride into the White House having smote the evil Bush), I'll be happy to endure the formulaic, hackneyed build-up.

Posted by: Dugrless on August 7, 2003 7:30 AM

The way I see it Howard Dean is the typical Hero type, always pissed off and angry about something ala Bruce Willis while John Kerry is the a little to smart and smug guy who you secretly hope will fall in a pit of snakes.

John Edwards is the younger brother/friend who always tags along and grows up along the way - only to die a horrible death just after he becomes a man/kisses his first girl or whatever. Leiberman and Gephart are the older guys who have seen it all before yet still manage to get whacked in the first firefight/primary.

And Al Sharpton is THE typical wise ass with the great one liners. The rest are the cannon fodder that get blown away at the beginning of the movie.

The general election, on the other hand, is the typical buddy movie - with Bush and Cheney reversing the roles as the tough old veteren and the goofy sidekick - more of a Beverly Hills Cop than a Dirty Harry.

And lets just go ahead and say it....Howard Dean and some loveable goofball like oh, I don't know, Washington Governor Gary Locke as the Evil mastermind and his sad, funny sidekick. In the end Strategery overcomes the bad guys but not before Dean gives us a soliliqy like the one from his yearbook.

"From the outside looking in, I am: A Prefect making a thousand announcements in assembly, a dorm prefect with a big stick, a big brother talking to Deacon or Benny, a solid conservative defending the powers of Student Council and lashing out at cynics and opponents, a business manager arguing with his editor, and a frequent occupant of the weight room. I can't see anything in perspective, I only live for the moment. I take each individual thing that comes along as the most important thing that ever happened: from elections, football games, grades, hell week, everything is in crisis. Some people tell me I shouldn't take things so seriously. St. George's has taught me in four years to respect A. Lincoln's saying that, 'you can't please all of the people all of the time.' I tried for three years, and realized in my fourth that he was right (I'm stubborn, that's why it took so long). Forget about the people you can't please; hang around with the ones you like. If you want to find out how everyone else sees me, read the top paragraph again. If you're the curious type who can put up with a temper, join the few who know me as I know me -- from the inside looking out."

Two thumbs up!!!

Posted by: Duane on August 7, 2003 8:00 AM

Pitch Black was a decent escape flick that sort of varied a little from the typical genre. Plus, it used lots of fun light filters.

Posted by: Ryan Waddell on August 7, 2003 8:53 AM

I recently saw Alien and Aliens for the very first time, and I think everyone was disappointed that I wasn't freaked out like they all were when they first saw them. Of course, I'd seen many, many bad Escape (and Haunted House) movies, so I was already familiar with the premise...

Ah, innocence lost.

Posted by: spygeek on August 7, 2003 8:57 AM

Coming to a theater near you "The Recall Election" starring Arnold Schwartzeneger!

Posted by: kungfukitten on August 7, 2003 9:43 AM

That is so cool. Don't forget, (of course this combines the "escape" movies with classic teen horror films...) There has to be a babe in high heels who falls down a lot, and then some poor schlub who gets sent ahead to check things out ("Dude, why don't you go out there into that dark auditorium and see if CNN's set up yet?")

Heck, I might even watch some of the debates. Hey, how about combining that with a reality show? Whoever comes out worst in the debates gets eliminated from the primary. In fact, let's start now. We'll just vote off one a week. Please, let's start with Dennis Kosinich.

Posted by: Laurie on August 7, 2003 10:15 AM

Could it be that Al Gore is the equivalent Winona Ryder's character in "Resurrection?" Everyone supposes he's a person, then he gets killed off by some stupid alien, only to return because he's actually a robot. But instead of being all wet with a hole in his mid-section, and being kinda cute like Winona Ryder, he just has lots of facial hair?

Posted by: Lost Poke on August 7, 2003 10:18 AM

It's like "Which Escape film are you?"

The Goonies
Through persistence and dumb luck you bungle your way to the treasure, stumping your opponents with "boody twaps" along the way. If you win the primary, it's Baby Ruth for everybody while the sounds system pumps out your victory song,"Good Enough" by Cyndi Lauper.

Posted by: Lora on August 7, 2003 1:03 PM

I watched The Italian Job last night, and it occurs to me that the heist film is the converse of the escape film. You've got your array of stock roles - formalized by the assignment of necessary criminal skills (safecracking, wisecracking, computer hacking, demolition, administration) - you've got the puzzle to be solved, and you've got the cool ending with the blowing up and the running around and whatnot. Instead of getting out, though, the characters in the heist film have to get in. Inevitably, though, heist films always twist around into escape films, as the characters attempt to extricate themselves from the inevitable complications. It's a given in Hollywood film that you can't just rob a place; you have to go through hell to come out alive and unincarcerated.

Now that I think about it, Titanic is a great example of the heist/escape film: Leo DiCaprio spends the first part of the film getting into Kate Winslet's pants, and the next part getting out of the bowels of a sinking ship. The dirty little thief.

Posted by: palinode on August 7, 2003 3:12 PM