Austin Stoker is a just-promoted lieutenant whose first assignment is to oversee a quiet, final night at a closed-down suburban ghetto precinct after its personnel are transferred to a new station. But several unrelated events conspire to create a nightmare: a police ambush of a heavily-armed street gang the day before; a man in shock (Martin West) showing up, unable to explain his daughter has just been murdered; and a prison bus transferring four men to death row making an unexpected stop. With phone lines cut, faceless hordes of gang bangers with silenced weapons attack the station under cover of darkness, in search of West who has killed one of their own. One of Stoker’s men, the prison official and two prisoners die, and Stoker finds himself so shorthanded he must trust one of the hardened convicts (Darwin Joston) to aid him in holding off the seemingly endless stream of marauders. Director John Carpenter supplies an expert escalation of dread and chaos, making an astonishingly assured second film, mingling tropes from sources as diverse as Howard Hawks westerns (i.e. Rio Bravo) and George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.
“A much more complex film than Mr. Carpenter’s Halloween …its eerie power comes from the kind of unexplained, almost supernatural events one expects to find in a horror movie but not in a melodrama…Mr. Carpenter’s ability to construct films entirely out of action and movement suggests that he may one day be a director to rank with Don Siegel.” – Vincent Canby, The New York Times
View the full set of Spanish lobby cards for Assault on Precinct 13 on the New Beverly forum.
Garret Mathany discusses Assault on Precinct 13 on the New Beverly blog.