Assault on Precinct 13
For some reason a lot of people seem to think that Halloween was John Carpenter’s first movie. It was actually his 3rd feature length film and it wasn’t even his first great film.
Assault on Precinct 13 was John Carpenter’s 2nd feature film and it came out in 1976, two years before Halloween in 1978.
The movie’s title is actually a big misconception. The assault doesn’t take place on Precinct 13, nor is there a Precinct 13 anywhere in the movie. The precinct in the movie is actually Precinct 9, District 13. John Carpenter’s original title was “The Anderson Alamo”, he later changed it to “The Siege”, but the movie distributors changed the title when they released it to “Assault on Precinct 13”, because they thought it sounded cool, and they were just not bothered to check their details.
Reasons to watch:
John Carpenter is in great form – Even though this isn’t a horror movie, it has Carpenter’s signature dark and foreboding style. It’s an action thriller (idealized as a western) that has a horror like atmosphere that works surprisingly well.
Great action – While there may not be a ton of action, what is there is great. The effects are fantastic. This is back in the 70’s so we have all the glorious squibs that sadly aren’t as prevalent in more modern films. The action is well shot, well performed, and is very intense.
Good characters – The acting is very good and the characters are very well rounded. The character development is done surprisingly well.
It seems like the kind of movie where you wouldn’t care about the characters, but John Carpenter did a great job as writer/director making the characters likable and relate-able. They are believable in the situation and the good guys are fun to root for.
One character in particular is just so damn cool. Partially because of the excellent writing and partially because of the fantastic performance given by Darwin Joston. That character is Napoleon Wilson. This character is so Goddamn cool, he has to be on a list of coolest movie characters, but I feel he often goes overlooked.
It’s an overlooked classic – Assault on Precinct 13 is one of John Carpenter’s best films and it really is a classic.