Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

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8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great looking low budget film with a strong story

Still is a B-Movie

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Assault on Precinct 13

Studio:  CKK Corporation

Genre(s):  Action/Adventure/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  November 10, 1976

MPAA Rating:  R

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Die, die, die!

Precinct 9 has a new on its last day of being opened.  It was supposed to be a quiet night, but when a grieving father hunts down and kills the gang member who murdered his child, a standoff begins.  The gangs have amassed and are out for blood, and nobody knows that Ethan Bishop (Austin Stoker) and his staff of Leigh (Laurie Zimmer) and Julie (Nancy Kyes) are trapped in the shutdown precinct with prisoners Napoleon Wilson (Darwin Joston) and Wells (Tony Burton)…and surviving to morning is their only hope.

Directed by John Carpenter, Assault on Precinct 13 was one of Carpenter’s earliest films.  The low-budget action thriller did fare well in the overseas market, but did poorly in the United States.  The film has since its release become a cult classic and is often considered one of the breakout films of the 1970s with critical acclaim due to its style and themes.

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That’s right…I want a bomb-pop now!!!

I have to admit that though I have known about Assault on Precinct 13, I had never gotten to see it.  I saw the remake so I knew the basic storyline.  Opposed to those films you’ve heard about and are disappointed with, I was pleasantly surprised with Assault on Precinct 13.

Carpenter and other critics have talked about the set-up for this movie and how it is a modern western.  The movie’s decision to have the “good” Ethan and the “evil” Napoleon be forced to join forces to survive was genius and make for a strong story of trust…and provided a hint of suspense that the trust could be broken at some point.  The funniest aspect of Assault on Precinct 13 is that it is a misnomer…the events actually take place at Precinct 9 (Division 13) and allegedly producers felt “13” sounded more ominous.

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Not only does she not get swirled, she’s not going to Escape to Witch Mountain

The movie might have employed “b-list” actors, but they do well in the movie.  Austin Stoker is likable as the lead but it becomes more of a co-lead when Darwin Joston is freed.  They have a good chemistry together, and it does really feel like a buddy picture.  Laurie Zimmer is nice as the female aspect of the picture, and I liked that they never developed a full romance with Stoker.  Some of the gang members were played by USC students, but the young murdered victim was Disney and child star Kim Richards who grew up to be one of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

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Carpenter admits being inspired by Night of the Living Dead

The movie has that gritty look.  It is obviously cheap, but cheap movies often have to try harder to make things look right.  It works in this film and the movie has a few unapologetic moments like the murder of Kim Richards’ character.  The censors wanted the ice cream scene cut down (which they agreed to) but then didn’t adjust the controversial scene…leading to a shocking moment in the movie.

Assault on Precinct 13 is a little movie that helped change the direction for Carpenter.  The movie helped him get Halloween and also help create the long term partnership with Donald Pleasance who did Halloween because his kids liked Assault on Precinct 13Assault on Precinct 13 was remade in 2005.

Related Links:

Assault on Precinct 13 (2005)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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