Friday, 25 November 2016

Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

              “Excellent Presentation of a Carpenter Classic”

        The film that, along with HALLOWEEN (1978) earned John Carpenter the moniker of ‘the Cut Price King of Hollywood’ gets a UK 40th anniversary DVD Blu-ray release courtesy of Second Sight. 

        After gang members are killed in an LA ghetto shoot out, more of their kind make a blood pact of vengeance on the local police force. Converging on a police station that is in the process of closing down, it falls to just-promoted cop Ethan Bishop (Austin Stoker) to defend the building and those within it with the aid of convict Napoleon Wilson (Darwin Joston). 

          Very much a cross between a Western (John Carpenter has never been shy in citing the influence that John Ford’s RIO BRAVO has had on his body of work) and a horror picture (the gang members hardly speak and are very much in the mould of the devil worshippers in PRINCE OF DARKNESS or the ghosts in THE FOG), ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 still works well despite its low budget. There are good acting turns from both Stoker and Joston, as well as Nancy Loomis in her first movie role, and Kim Richards as the little girl who gets more than an ice cream in a gunshot scene that has become infamous in exploitation cinema. The assault doesn’t actually take place on precinct 13 at all, but it’s such a good title, and the film really does live up to a fine exploitation tradition, that it can hardly be criticised for that.

          Second Sight’s presentation of John Carpenter’s pre-HALLOWEEN action thriller is second to none. The transfer looks excellent and the DTS-HD 5.1 sound mix is great - crank up the volume to hear Carpenter’s score at its best. There’s also a wealth of special features, including two commentary tracks - one from John Carpenter and another from Tommy Lee Wallace.

          There are new interviews with star Austin Stoker, producer Joseph Kaufman and future HALLOWEEN III director Tommy Lee Wallace. There’s also a new 12 minute talking head piece from Nancy Loomis where she discusses her career and why she gave up acting.

          You also get archive interviews with Carpenter and Stoker, a trailer and radio spots. Exclusive to the Blu-ray is John Carpenter’s student short CAPTAIN VOYEUR and a 53 minute French documentary on Laurie Zimmer. The limited edition box set also contains five art cards and a bonus CD of the movie soundtrack. A great package for a great film. 

John Carpenter's ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 is out on Blu-ray, DVD, Download and On-Demand from Monday 28th November 2016

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