In 1976 director John Carpenter released Assault on Precinct 13 his first major feature film in the USA and sadly the response from critics and audience was disappointing. But it got shown at a film festival in London and that’s when the good reviews and praise started and from then on the film has had a deserved cult following.
An LA gangs revenge-fuelled killing spree leads them to a half-abandoned police station in the throes of closing down. Under siege with power and phone lines cut, a lone cop and his skeleton staff recruit a condemned killer from the cells in a desperate battle to survive the night. As the gang close in the tension escalates to a boiling point and survival looks more and more unlikely.
You can see many influences in this film, especially from Rio Bravo directed by Carpenter favourite Howard Hawks and Night of the Living Dead by George Romero. The pacing is excellent with the tension slowly building to a thrilling climax. The score by Carpenter itself is simple but one of his best a pulsing electronic theme. Cast all do well especially Austin Stoker and Darwin Joston and the widescreen Panavision framing is used to perfection.
This new 40th-anniversary special edition Blu Ray from Second Sight in the UK has a very pleasing 1080p transfer, it looks like the same transfer as the Shout Factory release in the USA but with a bit more of a cleanup. There are two audio options a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 or an Uncompressed PCM original mono, both sound very good with the DTS mix giving a bit more ambience.
Extras are plentiful and as follows:
- Return to Precinct 13: A new Interview with Austin Stoker, short but very interesting view on his career and how he got the role in the film.
- Producing Precinct 13: A new interview with Joseph Kaufman.
- Filmmaking with John: A new interview with Tommy Lee Wallace.
- Captain Voyeur: John Carpenter student short (Blu-ray exclusive)
- Do You Remember Laurie Zimmer documentary film (Blu-ray exclusive)
- Interview with John Carpenter and Austin Stoker
- The Sassy One with Nancy Loomis
- Audio Commentary with John Carpenter, excellent commentary as usual from this director.
- Audio Commentary with Tommy Lee Wallace
- Radio Spots
- 5 Art Cards (Limited Edition box set exclusive)
- Bonus CD soundtrack disc (Limited Edition box set exclusive)
A great package for a classic film which gets better with age and each viewing. Highly recommended.
FILM: 9 PICTURE: 8.5 AUDIO: 8 EXTRAS: 9