It’s time to look at a true cult classic from director John Carpenter. This one has been restored and recently released on Blu-ray. The version I am reviewing is the limited edition which comes with a CD of the film soundtrack. The standard version is now available, the same picture quality minus a couple of nice extras. Here’s my Assault on Precinct 13 Blu-ray review.
- Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)
- UK Rating 15
- Discs: 2
- Released By Second Sight Films
- Starring Austin Stoker, Darwin Joston, Tony Burton, Laurie Zimmer, Nancy Kyes (aka Nancy Loomis)
When a vicious street gang come into possession of some serious weaponry the people of Anderson are in danger. When the gang take the life of an innocence this prompts retaliation by a man resulting in the killing one of the gangs leaders.
The man finds himself being hunted and decides to take refuge in a police station which just happens to be in the process of closing and being relocated.
Not long afterward the police station comes under siege by the armed gang. With the phones cut and no way of calling in back-up the remaining officers and prisoners are going have a really long night.
Classic John Carpenter!
Style / Direction
The film was written and directed by John Carpenter with the cinematography being handled by Douglas Knapp. John Carpenter excels here whether it’s the camera shots following the gang in the car or the eerie silence following an assault on the precinct. In essence this is the western that he always wanted to make but with the genre out of favour in the 1970s he simply switches to an urban city setting.
The budget was reportedly $100,000 but executive producer Joseph Kaufman claims it was really around the $200,000 mark. Either way this looks anything but a low budget film. With great camera shots, good set design, excellent gun and blood special effects along with audio effects that really bring the siege to life.
With no real rehearsal time it’s amazing to see such polished performances from all departments of filmmaking and acting.
Make no mistake this may only be the second feature film in John Carpenter’s career but it really does stand the test of time.
Music / Audio Effects
Awesome music from John Carpenter, it’s instantly draws you into the tense situation of the people in precinct 13. I love all of John Carpenter’s music be it Halloween right through to Vampires and Ghost of Mars. Most films these days tend to have functional by not memorable scores. John Carpenter’s music however helps to take his films to another level.
The main theme will stick in your head long after the film has finished and the incidental music adds so much tension it’s almost unbearable. A truly terrific score!
Acting / Characters
Austin Stoker plays unlucky policeman Lt. Ethan Bishop who is assigned to the precinct to oversee its closure. Stoker really delivers a standout performance that gives a human feel against the more aggressive cops.
The other key character is that of criminal Napoleon Wilson played by Darwom Joston. He is heading for death row having murdered several people but strikes up a mutual respect with Lt. Bishop.
The chemistry between these two characters plays a key role in making the film work. As many people have already remarked the Napoleon Wilson character bears a remarkable similarity to Snake Plissken. However as revealed in one of the interviews Carpenter had already written a version of Escape from New York prior to Assault on Precinct 13.
Other key characters include Leigh played Laurie Zimmer. She plays one of the backroom staff still left at the precinct and is a strong tough character that complements Bishop and Wilson well.
Nancy Loomis plays another of the backroom staff and would go on to appear in several other John Carpenter films such as Halloween (1978), The Fog (1980) and Halloween II. Her last film role came in Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) whilst not directed by John Carpenter he did produce it and provided an excellent film score.
In fact all the acting is exceptionally good adding to the believability of this unlikely scenario.
Conclusion: Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) Film Review
John Carpenter is probably underrated by a lot the mainstream film critics but it’s no surprise to me why so many people love his films. Assault on Precinct 13 is an outstanding film in every department. A cult classic yes but that kind of sells it a little short, it’s a masterpiece on a tight budget yet you would never know that money was in short supply.
That awesome film score will stay with you days after watching this classic. The good news is the CD soundtrack comes with the limited edition so you can keep on listening time and time again.
A must see film whether you are a John Carpenter fan or not!
If you like my Assault on Precinct 13 Blu-ray Review check out my feature on high definition tranfers and what they really mean for Blu-ray releases.
Conclusion: Assault on Precinct 13 Blu-ray Review
Assault on Precinct 13 Blu-ray Review – I’ll get straight to the point, the Blu-ray looks absolutely sensational, this is how to restore a film. It’s a clean and sharp image, the colours are more vibrant and there’s not a speckle of dirt anywhere to be found.
Top marks for this restoration.
- Return to Precinct 13: A new interview with Austin Stoker
- Producing Precinct 13: A new interview with Executive Producer Joseph Kaufman
- Filmmaking with John: A new interview with Art Director Tommy Lee Wallace
- Captain Voyeur: John Carpenter student short film
- Do you remember Laurie Zimmer?
- Interview with Writer & Director John Carpenter + Austin Stoker
- The Sassy One with Actor Nancy Loomis Kyes
- Audio Commentary with John Carpenter
- Audio Commentary with Tommy Lee Wallace
- Radio Spots
- 5 Art Cards
- Original Soundtrack CD
The perfect set of extras for any film or John Carpenter fan.
On to my movie rating for Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)
- Movie Rating: RECOMMENDED / MUST SEE
- Blu-ray Picture Quality: EXCELLENT
- Extras: EXCELLENT
Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) Limited Edtion is available now on blu-ray.
For those of you yet to see the film I’ll leave you with a little taster with trailer…
Clip not representative of the Blu-ray version – Assault on Precinct 13 Blu-ray Review
For those not wanting or unable to get hold of the limited edtion Second Sight Films released the standard Blu-ray earlier this year minus the CD sountrack & 5 Art Cards. It’s available from Amazon priced £9.99 (as of date of review)
I had to endure a couple of really bad Blu-rays recently but I’m pleased to report Second Sight’s Assault on Precinct 13 looks simply amazing.
That’s my Assault on Precinct 13 Blu-ray Review, if you have any thoughts on this film leave them in the comment section below:
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Summary: Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) Blu-ray Review
Movie title: Assault on Precinct 13
Duration: 91 mins
Director(s): John Carpenter
Actor(s): Austin Stoker, Darwin Joston, Tony Burton, Laurie Zimmer, Nancy Kyes
Genre: Action, Thriller
- Movie Rating
- Blu-ray Rating
A tense action thriller from a great director, Assault on Precinct 13 looks truly amazing on Blu-ray.