John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13

Two years before Halloween and two years after his debut Dark Star, master film-maker John Carpenter wrote and directed this ‘urban western’ inspired by the classic Rio Bravo.

Newly promoted cop Ethan Bishop is given his first senior task of overseeing the closure of a police station in a notorious part of Los Angeles.  A rather nasty gang known as ‘Street Thunder’ have aquired a large consignment of weapons, the police have managed to blow a few of them away but the chief scumbags make a blood pact to kill cops and anyone else who they fancy.

With Bishop now at the police station, a prison bus containing inmates has to stop there due to one of them being taken ill.  Meanwhile one of the Street Thunder has executed a little girl and an ice cream man.  The little girl’s father snaps, goes after the killer and soon enough ends up at the police station with the bad guys in pursuit.

Assault on Precinct 13 may be forty years old but it’s still as exciting as it was back in the glorious 1970’s.  Nothing about the film is dated (apart from the time period, obviously) as the world can still be a bit of a scary place with the issues of gangs still a problem in some parts of the world.

Carpenter puts blaxploitation veteran Austin Stoker in the lead and assembles a great bunch of supporting players including Halloween’s Nancy Loomis, Charles Cyphers (poor old Dan the weatherman in The Fog) and Tony Burton (Rocky).  Backed up with his usual great widescreen photography and self composed theme music (simple and awesome as always) ’13’ is a damn essential piece of action cinema history and if you don’t have it, a must buy.

As gratitude for the film’s success in the UK, Carpenter named his silent killer in Halloween after the distributor Miracle Films’ boss Michael Myers.

Second Sight’s release is excellent with stacks of extras and a copy of the soundtrack, priceless.

  • Starring Austin Stoker  Laurie Zimmer  Darwin Joston  Kim Richards
  • Director John Carpenter
  • Distributor Second Sight Films