Assault on Precinct 13, movie (1976)  » Movies  »
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  • Its a simple story, but one that is effective and full of possibilities

    • by Mackenzie Lambert


      As a director, John Carpenter has made it no secret how much Westerns have had an influence on his work. His classic films like Escape from New York and They Live have elements and utilize cliches from the Western genre. While his first film was the comedic space satire Dark Star, his second film was the first of many that would be connected to the gritty genre.

      Criminal activity is on the rise with the growing number of street gangs. The gangs are getting vicious, but more importantly they’re getting organized. When police ambush members of a gang, the leaders of the gang take a blood oath that they will have revenge on

      any who get in their way. One summer day turns into a night full of violence.

      Lt. Ethan Bishop (Austin Stoker) has a long night ahead of him. He is picked to watch over the final night of a police station in Anderson, CA. His night takes a sudden turn after a man comes in to the station for help. His daughter was murdered by gang members. He killed one in vengeance and the whole gang is after him. Moments earlier, a bus of inmates stops at the station when one of the inmates gets sick.

      The phone lines are down. There is no electricity. There are only sparse weapons to defend themselves. Bishop has no other option but to recruit the aid of the inmates, including infamous killer Napoleon Wilson (Darwin Joston).

      Carpenter takes the basic premise from films like Rio Bravo and Night of the Living Dead and adapts it to Los Angeles. You have a group of people taking shelter from a force that wants them dead and they have to overcome obstacles to survive. Its a simple story, but one that is effective and full of possibilities. Carpenter’s music score helps build the tension of the situation.

      One important aspect of the film is that its believable. It is fairly realistic in how it executes the plot.

      • Assault on Precinct 13, movie (1976)
      The odds are stacked at the right height for the heroes. They have just enough resources to hold out for help to come. All the while, the threat is possible and deadly. The absence of this needed believability is what ruined the remake made in 2005. The minimal approach by Carpenter showed that less is much more.

      The cast features a number of talented actors and actresses, some of whom would return for future Carpenter films. Austin Stoker is great as the cop in over his head, and makes for a nice homage to Duane Jones’ Ben. Darwin Joston as Napoleon Wilson was the prototype for the Carpenter tough

      guy, which was continued with characters like Snake Plissken, MacReady, Jack Burton, and Nada. The supporting cast is rounded out with the likes of Tony Burton, Charles Cyphers, Laurie Zimmer, and Nancy Loomis. Frank Doubleday stands out from the gang with his mix of Steve Buscemi and Billy Idol.

      Assault on Precinct 13 is a treat for fans of John Carpenter. Its quick at 90 minutes and really does have its tense moments. While stuck in the shadow of other films like Halloween and Escape from New York, it has a following of its own. For gritty, exciting low budget filmmaking, Assault on Precinct 13 is a fine choice for film buffs.

Tonya Ryan says :

I guess it’s ok for a older movie. Kinda boring to me not enough action for me. I’ve gotten used to updated action so so-called action from older movies aren’t as appealing to me I guess. So I would say it’s just Ok.
Andrew Leith says :

It was okay I guess, old fashioned it could have been much better and more action
Mackenzie says :

For only being John Carpenter s second film and with the small budget he had, he made the most out of it.
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