Escape from L.A.

Shirley Walker and John Carpenter

" Welcome back Snake Plissken "

Written by Thomas Glorieux - Review of the regular release

Snake Plissken: Got a smoke?
Malloy: The US is a non-smoking nation! No smoking, no drugs, no alcohol, no women - unless you're married - no foul language, no red meat!
Snake Plissken: Land of the free.

You don't need more lines to enter the world of one Snake Plisskin then that. Like Jack Burton in the Big Trouble in Little China movie, Kurt Russell gives Snake his personal best in the two Escape from something movies. The first was moody enough and somewhat dated, while the second is much more recent in both feel and tone. After all John Carpenter thought it was time to give his movies a more orchestral tone. His saviour was Shirley Walker. And her answer is a good one, give Snake colour by making her own theme damn addicting.

John Carpenter and Alan Howarth already created a theme which was perfect for Snake. After all, Carpenter always knew perfectly which sound he needed to give to his movies. And now returning exactly the way we remember it is "Escape from New York Main Title", only this version sounds much less dated and extremely fun in its performance.

While Shirley Walker is credited as main composer, Carpenter still meddles the experience a bit during the "History of Los Angeles" cue, while bringing that insanely catchy tune for "Snake's Uniform" forth with a rocking attitude. "Showdown" implements the harmonica while we encounter some lovely dark choir for the cue "Beverly Hills Surgeon General".

Shirley Walker takes up most of the score from there on, leaving room for her own theme to appear during the "Submarine Launch" track. This theme is a catchy tune all right, and it sounds absolutely amazing when it gets some heroic orchestral colour during "Fire Fight".

However Walker tries to implement as much as possible the sound of Carpenter into the musical world of Snake. Her additional ideas are just refining the listening experience. For instance the addition of the lovely solo violin makes all the difference during "Sunset Boulevard Bazaar". And the same can be said of those fanfares during "Hang Glider Attack" and "Escape from Coliseum", cues John Carpenter would / could never write. The orchestral conclusion during "Escape from Happy Kingdom" and "Crash Landing" are solid finishers.

We can honestly say that Shirley Walker adds a depth to the musical score a certain John Carpenter couldn't have given it. But that's not a fault because Carpenter's music has always worked in every film he made music for. And so comparing Escape from New York with Escape from L.A. is just not the right way to go. After all the gap between the two is 15 years, and synthesizers changed a lot since then. Both scores have their charm, but I prefer the rocking orchestral sound that Shirley Walker gives her own theme, while implementing enough beats to keep Escape from L.A. Carpenter-like in feel.


1. Escape from New York Main Title ** (2.08)
2. History of Los Angeles *+ (2.10)
3. Snake's Uniform + (0.59)
4. Submarine Launch * (2.38)
5. Sunset Boulevard Bazaar * (2.04)
6. Motorcycle Chase * (2.26)
7. Showdown + (1.29)
8. Beverly Hills Surgeon General *+ (4.11)
9. The Future is Right Now * (2.01)
10. Hang Glider Attack * (2.30)
11. The Black Box * (1.15)
12. Escape from Coliseum * (1.53)
13. Helicopter Arrival * (2.07)
14. Fire Fight * (2.50) Excellent track
15. Escape from Happy Kingdom * (1.32)
16. Crash Landing * (1.42)

* Music composed by Shirley Walker
*+ Music composed by Shirley Walker & John Carpenter
+ Music composed by John Carpenter
** Music composed by John Carpenter & Alan Howarth

Total Length: 34.05
(click to rate this score)  
(total of 12 votes - average 3.67/5)

Released by

Milan Records 73138 35773-2 (regular release 1996)

Conducted by

Shirley Walker

Orchestrations by

Michael McCuistion & Lolita Ritmanis