rocknblues' Review of Assault on Precinct 13
Assault on Precinct 13(1976)
Assault on Precinct 13 is a lean and mean action thriller with Rio Bravo inspirations. Clearly John Carpenter was not blessed with the budget or action talent that filled that film, but he does manage to create a fairly intense action film that is a tad more than serviceable, but it's somewhat lacking in socially conscious overtones. It's all about the action, and all set to the horror/action soundtrack that Carpenter would become known for in Halloween and Escape From New York.
In retrospect, it's interesting to where Carpenters trademarks started. For me John's career basically began with his most widely known film "Halloween". But here you get an early preview of the camerawork that wowed people in the Halloween opener. The action I admit doesn't impress by today's standards, and so if you're not the type of person that can put the film in the context of the time it was made it might be hard to appreciate the effort and what John was attempting to do.
The biggest thing to understand is that John is pushing the idea of a relentless evil force. In Halloween the evil force is Micheal Myers... A man that is seemingly indestructible. But here in Assault on Precinct 13 the evil force is a gang of thugs that relentlessly pursue the undermanned people in the old broken down police station. Low on bullets policemen and the prisoners have to decade if they want to try and escape, or hope that help will arrive in time to spare their lives.
Ultimately it was mixed bag for me. It was a good effort for it's time, but it seems sort of empty, and that's a letdown considering more could have been offered. The ending was somewhat lackluster and anticlimactic, but it's still a solid early career effort from a man that would make a decade full of hits. A run that has yet to be repeated by any horror director since.