Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)
Director: John Carpenter
A man wanted RIP by a ruthless street gang named “Street Thunder” (greatest gang name...ever) finds refuge in an “about to be closed down” Police Station. Problem is, the thugs followed him there and proceed to fiercely attack the Pig House. The equation winds up going like this: Countless peeved gangbangers outside wanting to get in + a couple of cops and convicts inside wanting to live = a jamboree of B-xploitation fun!
I got this plan, it's called "Save Ass" and the way it
works is: I slip out one of these windows and I run like a bastard! - Wells
When the recently released remake of Attack on Precinct 13 hit the screens; I decided to celebrate its existence by NOT going to see it and renting the John Carpenter original instead; a flick that I had never seen before (I know, shame on me). Shot right after his Sci Fi/Comedy feature length debut Dark Star and prior to the fear injection that would put him on the treasure map, “Halloween”, Attack on Precinct 13 was pure Carpenter in all of its small budget, high concept and low-key glory.
Over the years when somebody would yap Precinct to me, they would always bomb-drop that its Carpenter doing “Rio Bravo”, (Carpenter has said the same thing many o times). Although I picked up on lots of "Bravo" within the main situation of Precinct; that wasn’t the film that kept knock-knock-knocking on my melon’s door throughout. All I kept thinking of was Romero’s "Night of the Living Dead". If you take the last block of the latter (Zombies trying to get in the house) and extend it for an hour and a half, you’ll get a good idea of what Assault on Precinct 13 is all about. Not only did the “siege” action echo the Romero classic to a Z for “Zombie-like” but Carpenter went on to re-enforce the “horror feel” by keeping the outside foes far away from the camera or draped in shadows. Result; the villains were mostly faceless and mysterious goons all the way through; present to act as frightening ball-breaking threats for our heroes to fight off. When tagging that to Carpenter’s unassuming directing approach and his somber “trip dated” score, it gave the ordeal an almost mystical feel; turning what is on paper, an action flick, into an atmospheric horror opus onscreen.
And what a relentless and tense ride it all wound up being! It began with a 40 minute build-up where Carpenter strategically placed his chess pieces on the board with the intent of check mating our asses. Through this we meet a group of likeable characters (Darwind Joston owned!) that easily won me over. Granted, the characterization was nothing too deep but the clever dialogue, the under the wire “lovey dovey” thing and the circumstantial humor gave me enough meat on the players for me to care about their fate. Once, the set up done, the first plot turn kicked in (the notorious ice cream scene) which acted as a starter pistol for the games to begin. WOW! Was the shit launched my way to hit the freaking fan or what? What followed was a grand collection of exciting shoot outs (loved the baddies' silencer angle, it augmented their surreal aura), a slew of “survival/escape scenarios” and mucho heart pounding “they want to get in, we want to get out” sequences. I was literally on the edge of my sofa, inches away from falling into the abyss that is my cat-excrement laced carpet (note to self: get rid of f*cking cat).
On the whole; I had ZERO complaints about Assault on Precinct 13. Sure the characters could’ve been explored more and some say that plot holes are abound here. But to be honest, I didn’t need to know more about the peeps in here, the situation defined them, as for the plot holes, the only hole I saw was the one in my garbage can which caught on fire while I was watching the film (damn cigarettes). This is low budget filmmaking at its best, this is John Carpenter in tip-top shape, this is Assault on Precinct 13! BnE this ride!
We get countless bullet wounds, some blood and lots of brutality.
Austin Stoker (Ethan) was ideal casting as the “white hat” type hero. I liked him a lot; hence he did his job well. Darwin Joston (Napoleon) didn’t do much for me at first but as the flick moved forward, he stole the show as the “smart ass” and “dead pan” convict. Tony Burton (Wells) will always be "Duke" from the Rocky movies to me ("You know what you have to do. Do it…." YEAH BITCH!) He kicked butt here too bringing some comic relief to the affair. Nancy Loomis (Julie) underplayed it to the point of being captivating. I couldn’t take my eyes off her; principally when calmly shooting a gun!
T & A
Nancy Loomis blessed us with her ta-tas, minus bra, under her shirt. I know it doesn’t sound like much but hey…it aroused me! The ladies get guns and rifles which could act as phallic symbols if they crank their thought process to that dial. Have fun girls! Don’t say I never think of ya!
Although only his second feature, John Carpenter didn’t solely display a hint of the genius that would one day be; the genius was already there! We get tightly staged “siege” and action scenarios, a methodological pace/directing style and a heavy axis on suspense that worked wonders. Even in his beginnings The Carp was all that and a bag of Chips. God I miss the lad! John! Quit the weed and the Jenna videos! Get behind a camera now!
It’s a John Carpenter score, need I say more! It rocked in its bleakness, simplicity and catchiness! I was actually humming it while jerking off later on that day! Fun times!
Being a huge John Carpenter fan, watching Assault on Precinct 13 for the first time was akin to a breath of dead air caressing my butt cheek softly, like an ember being gently pushed to the sky by a calm autumn breeze. What was that Uncle Arrow? Let me put it this way instead sonny-boy; an inventive premise, lots of guns, heavy action, effective suspense, genuine laughs, a furious last half, and John Carpenter kicking B-Movie ass behind the camera while cracking skulls with his jiving score. That better for ya? You love The Carp! Hit this one, it can make your day a much better one. It did mine!
Darwin Joston died of leukemia in 1998…RIP dude! Your fine work lives on!
The flick was shot for about 100 000$
The Nazi Regime like “MPAA” were going to give the flick an "X" rating if the "ice cream and girl scene" wasn't cut out of the film. The distributor told Carpenter to give the MPAA a version with the scene snipped out to get the "R" rating, and then distribute the flick with the scene intact anyway. Well it worked because the scene is still in the flick. Dumb fuck MPAA…duh! Censor this (me giving the finger)
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