Assault on Precinct 13 is one of the crown jewels of the career of the truly iconic and legendary John Carpenter. Following his 1974 debut with Dark Star, Carpenter gave audiences this thrilling adrenaline rush of a movie just two years later. Often cited by some as an all-time classic of film history, the big question here is whether JC’s 1976 effort holds up to this day.
To give a brief summary of the film itself, Assault on Precinct 13 sees a deadly LA gang swearing a blood oath to take out a nearby police station in retaliation for the cops having killed some of their members. Unfortunately for the boys in blue, the station itself – which is actually Precinct 9, Division 13 – is in the process of being shut down and so only has skeleton staff working. The silencers on the gang’s guns mean that nobody will be hearing the attack, and the in-the-process-of-being-shut-down nature of the station means nobody will be visiting any time soon. In order to help stem the ferocious attack that looms large from this gang, Austin Stoker’s Lieutenant Bishop only has Henry Brandon’s Sergeant and Nancy Loomis and Laurie Zimmer’s secretaries to support him, and so he has to seek help from some no-good convicts who have had to take temporary refuge in the Precinct during a transportation gig that’s been halted due to an ill prisoner. Will Bishop and his crew have enough to keep their attackers at bay, and just how much can they trust the criminals who they’re forced to work alongside?
As a story, as a thriller, and as a classic of its time, Assault on Precinct 13 is as good as it’s ever been. Full of tension, desolation, desperation, and some performances that still snap as much as they did the first time around, upon a rewatch the film will still rank up there as one of John Carpenter’s finest. Halloween proved just why Carpenter is known as ‘The Master of Horror’, The Fog showed he could craft a delicate classic ghost story, The Thing was a sci-fi horror masterclass, and movies like Escape from New York and They Live were drenched in social commentary and dripping with insta-cool lead characters, but with Assault on Precinct 13, we get to see just how well Carpenter does with an action movie. And quite frankly, the end result here is a film that is unrelenting, grabbing you by the scruff of your neck and dragging you through its 90-minute run time as you watch its central characters doing their best to handle what appears to be inevitable carnage whilst a classic Carpenter score only adds further to the nail-biting as you move ever-closer to the edge of your seat.
With this new release from Second Sight, fans of John Carpenter will be delighted with the overflowing special features that are included on this Blu-ray. Some of the extras may have been seen on previous releases, but there’s enough added bonuses here to make this a must-have for fans of one of cinema’s greatest ever directors. As with any similar chat tracks from JC, the commentary from Carpenter himself here will be the highlight for many, and the entire array of special features included make this feel like the comprehensive edition of a film that often gets overlooked for the likes of Halloween, The Thing and Escape from New York when certain quarters herald the career of John Carpenter. The importance of Assault on Precinct 13, both to Carpenter’s career and the moviegoing landscape of its time, shouldn’t be overlooked, and here Second Sight have put together a phenomenal remastered release that makes Assault on Precinct 13 feels as fresh and engaging as it’s ever been.
Special Features: Audio commentary with John Carpenter / Audio commentary with Tommy Lee Wallace / New interviews with Austin Stoker, Joseph Kaufman, and Tommy Lee Wallace / Interview with John Carpenter and Austin Stoker / ‘The Sassy One’ with Nancy Loomis / ‘Do You Remember Laurie Zimmer?’ documentary / ‘Captain Voyeur’ John Carpenter student short / Radio spots / Trailer / 5 art cards / Bonus CD soundtrack
ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: JOHN CARPENTER / STARRING: AUSTIN STOKER, DARWIN JOSTON, NANCY LOOMINS, LAURIE ZIMMER, MARTIN WEST / RELEASE DATE: NOVEMBER 28TH, 2016 (SPECIAL EDITION), DECEMBER 9TH, 2017 (STANDARD EDITION)