Sure, Isaac Hayes is best known for Shaft’s theme song and, lately, for South Park. But he’s also mighty funktacular in John Carpenter’s Manhattan-turned-prison-island riff, Escape From New York (R, 99 mins., 1981, MGM). He plays the Duke, a glowering top con who owns the whole city and a killer chandelier-bedecked pimpmobile to boot.

So is it good to be the Duke?

I was like a groupie on this. Kurt Russell, Ernest Borgnine, Lee Van Cleef…heck of a list. But I was the man in charge. [Laughs]

Until you got shot. But you still angled to be in the sequel, Escape From L.A.?

As the Earl or something, yeah. I even took the producer, Debra Hill, to dinner to try to talk her into it.

What was up with that car?

We took it on a promotional tour, and cops would yell, ”What’s that?” ”It’s from the movie! Don’t write me up!” Afterward, a crew member bought it. Beat me to it. I’ve been in a lot of limos, but to be driving one with opera lights? That was cool.

Escape From New York

  • Movie
  • John Carpenter