The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Assault On Precinct 13 (1976)

Just bought the DVD to rewatch this old favorite before seeing the remake, and was, again, impressed with the sheer narrative drive and visual kinetics of this early John Carpenter drive-in classic (actually, it's so dark that it's hard to imagine what it would have looked like at a Drive-In theater.  But I digress.)  This combination of "Night of the Living Dead" and "Rio Bravo" is simplicity itself: a group of cops and cons are trapped in a police station by a bloodthirsty street gang determined to kill them all  at any cost.  Basic First and Third Chakra stuff, enlivened with a little sex appeal between one of the cops and one of the cons.  It plays with social mores as Romero did, by casting a black man as the head cop, and by placing a little blonde girl in...hmmm, shall we say extreme, if brief, jeopardy?  Yes, that about covers it.  You've probably never seen any of the actors before, or will again, which adds a nice sense of reality to the intense proceedings.  Moves at a lightning clip, has sparse, sharp dialogue, and is very nearly a textbook example of how to make a low-budget exploitation film.  Fine, mean, tough work.  A solid "B+" for lovers of the genre.  Rather violent, though.

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