nderson, California... 3:10 Saturday morning... a gang are silently making their way through the alleyways of the city. Suddenly from the rooftops above, pump action shotgun barrels appear branded by faceless LAPD officers, who blast away the ambushed gang in a hail of bullets.
Over some opening scenery shots of Anderson, Los Angeles a radio broadcast informs us of a recent surge in crime... as well as a theft of a huge shipment of automatic weapons.
Later that morning at their hide out, the surviving members of Street Thunder, the inter-racial gang, ominously slice into their palms and make a blood pact to avenge their fallen comrades.
Not too far across town, Lieutenant Ethan Bishop (Stoker) casually leaves his home and strolls over to his patrol car in the late afternoon sun... his languidness evoking the image of a cowboy approaching his horse from a distant era.
He drives off and radios into HQ for his orders, which are to take command for the final shift of a closing down police station in Anderson, Precinct 9 Division 13. The Lieutenant bemoans that he will bored staring at packing crates and would prefer to be a hero! The commander informs him "...that there are no more heroes' Bishop...just men who follow orders"
A father, Lawson (West) & his 7-year-old daughter Kathy (Richards) are driving through a 'horrible neighborhood' in Anderson. Although lost he avoids asking a stationary police car for directions, sparking suspicions in his inquisitive daughter... as they continue their drive, they are spotted by the blood thirsty gang from the roadside. The scene again evoking the old west... outlaws spotting their target... trouble's in the air, this is beginning to get tense!
Lieutenant Bishop arrives at the station at sunset. He observes the scenic view and tranquil atmosphere before proceeding into the command post and informing the desk sergeant Chaney (Brandon) that he is here to relieve the commanding officer for the concluding shift.
The gruff Captain informs the Lieutenant that the previous evening has been pretty action packed... Bishop offers, "It could be the sun spots... which cause pressure on the atmosphere". The unimpressed Captain gives him his instructions for the evening, which are to answer the phones and send over any 'strays', which may come their way.
We now see the gang cruising the streets of Anderson in their menacing black Cadillac, the leader (Doubleday) spying potential victims through the telescopic sight on his M-16 assault rifle fully equipped with silencer ... They start to stalk an ice cream van... perhaps in retribution for the atrocious music emanating from the vehicle!
Meanwhile three prisoners are in the process of being transferred between penitentiaries. A black man named Wells (Burton), Caudell (Frankland), who is in the throes of a virus and the eloquent Napoleon Wilson (Joston), an unrepentant killer on the way to death row.
Wells and Wilson are worried about contamination and convince Starker (Cyphers) the officer in charge to find refuge, before they all get infected... being that there is six hours between them and their destination. The nearest police station happens to be... yeah you guessed it... Anderson.
The bus arrives at the station and Starker convinces the initially reluctant Lieutenant to let him store his prisoners in the holding cells while medical attention is called.
Meanwhile the lost father and child are at a phone booth... the young girl leaves her father to go get a vanilla twist from the nervy ice cream seller (Bruni). The stalking black Cadillac is concerning him. As she is returning to her father she realizes that the ice cream seller has only given her regular vanilla, she makes the fatal decision to return to the ice cream van... by this time the gang members have appeared intent on menace at the vehicle... we now witness an extremely shocking scenes.
The shocked parent gives chase in his car following the scene. After a high-speed chase he catches up with the gang and after a brief shoot out the father kills the leader of Street Thunder. He flees the scene on foot, pursued by the other gang members and finds apparent refuge in Bishop's police station where he goes into deep shock and is unable to communicate what happened.
A short while later the phone lines go down quickly followed by the electricity, plunging the station into darkness. Starker decides that he's has to move his men onto the next fully functional station. Chaney goes out to his patrol car to radio in the faults, but is taken out by unseen gunman... the only sound being the 'spit' from the silencer and the bullet thudding into his body. At the same time the convicts are being transferred back to the bus, the guards, Prisoner Caudell and Starker are cut to pieces also by silent machine gunfire coming from the shadows just beyond the station car park.
Wells and Napoleon Wilson escape back into the station and are quickly put back into cells. What follows is a truly memorable scene where the gang fire hundreds of rounds into the police station. The Lieutenant, a policewoman (Zimmer), a secretary Julie (Loomis) and the grief stricken father are all that remain and they take cover as a blistering prolonged attack of lethal silencer rounds pummel into the station, destroying all the windows and cutting into the station. It's a triumph of low budget cinema, the scene consisting solely of "squib" shots.
When the attack finally subsides, three Street Thunder warlords emerge from the shadows and silently deliver to the station a 'Cholo', meaning 'To The Death'. After briefly disappearing back into the shadows the gang commence its assault on the station. Bishop immediately frees the convicts Wells and Napoleon Wilson from the cells so that they can assist in the onslaught from the murderous Street Thunder gang.
The father is in catatonia, so its left to the other five to fend off the attackers. After warding off the first wave, not without taking causalities they re-group and divide the sparse remaining ammo and pray for the Calvary to arrive.
Don't forget that Assault On Precinct 13 is now available to order on Widescreen DVD using our special 70s search device... [See DVD section or click here for more details]
By: Stuart Fitzgerald
Assault On Precinct 13 was John Carpenter's second film after the impressive 'Dark Star' (1972). The director says that 'Assault' is his homage to Howard Hawks' western classic 'Rio Bravo' (1959).
The film is basically a 'disaster' movie, a genre so popular in the 70s. One of the first to seamlessly blend wide ranging genres together and probably had a profound effect on contemporary filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie.
'Assault' also draws influence from Zulu (1963) & Night of the Living Dead (1968) in its tale of the outnumbered in jeopardy battling against a relentless faceless horde. 'The movie is driven by random violence, chance and fate, with the characters having nothing in common bar they're in the wrong place at the wrong time.' (John Carpenter on DVD commentary).
The dialogue is much like an old Hollywood western or melodrama if taken at face value, but the script is also amusingly ironic, this gives Darwin Joston a perfect platform for a superb performance as the laconic yet eloquent Napoleon Wilson who is irredeemably condemned to Death Row despite his heroics. The character proved to be the template for many of Carpenter's leading anti-hero's like Snake Plissken "Escape From New York" (1981), R J MacReady "The Thing" (1982), Jack Burton "Big Trouble in Little China" (1986), and John Nada "They Live" (1988).
The film was shot through a grainy filter on the camera so that it didn't appear too polished. Thus giving the impression that it was a 50's movie. On a minuscule budget, Carpenter utilized darkness, empty space and claustrophobia to impressive effect in creating immense suspense.
The beginning of the film has a stately pace, as Carpenter introduces us to the characters, rather than just chucking them straight into turmoil & peril, he allows us to get to know them. But the tension soon beings to mount as Street Thunder close in on the weakened police station in a mass of brutal, faceless terror that just keeps coming and coming.
The film is very simple visually and is an exercise in economic production... it perfectly balances parody & tension... an immensely entertaining film and a true cult classic!
John Carpenter wrote 'The Anderson Alamo' under his pseudonym John T. Chance, the name of the John Wayne character in Rio Bravo. The script paid homage to the classic western directed by Howard Hawks but used a modern setting.
Exteriors and jail scenes of Precinct 13 were shot at the old Venice, CA Police Station. The notorious ice cream van scene was shot in Watts, CA.
The film started out being titled as 'The Anderson Alamo', then it briefly changed to 'The Siege', before it had its title changed to 'Assault on Precinct 13' by the distributor. It opened in the fall of 1976 to mixed reviews and mild box office.
Alternative taglines for the film include 'A White Hot Night Full Of Hate!'...'The Gang That Swore A Blood Oath To Destroy Precinct 13 And Every Cop In It' And 'A cop with a war on his hands. His enemy... an army of street killers. His only ally... a convicted murderer'.
Darwin Joston also featured in 'Eraserhead' (1977) & '"The Fog' (1980).
Austin Stoker had previously featured in 'Battle for the Planet of the Apes' (1973).
Tony Burton appeared in the Sylvester Stallone's 'Rocky' films and had a bit part in Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" (1980).
Charles Cyphers also appeared in John Carpenter's 'Halloween' (1978), "The Fog" (1980), "Escape From New York" (1981). Other highlights include 'Truck Turner' (1974) & 'The Onion Field' (1979).
The scene where Bishop throws the shotgun to Napoleon Wilson was a reenactment of when Colorado Ryan (Ricky Nelson) throws the rifle to John T Chance (John Wayne) in 'Rio Bravo'.
know some Assault On Precinct 13 trivia that we could add? [Please
send it in]
|Trailer, Commentary, Featurette, Notes, Score|
Due to a lack of budget director John Carpenter compiled the soundtrack to the film himself. Although his father was a skilled musician Carpenter was a reticent student of music, much to the annoyance of his father.
Yet John had absorbed enough and had sufficient talent to be able to take to a synthesizer and produce a simplistic and memorable score. The musical guidelines used here would be revisited in Halloween (1978) and would become his trademark throughout a number of his films.
Soundtrack Available: Used Vinyl LP / Tape
Movie Posters! Using
our unique, "one-click" intelligent search device,
you can now find that elusive copy of Assault On Precinct 13, it's soundtrack
Poster at the very best price, Even if it's out
guys asked for it... So now it's improved! -Our updated "Weird
Science" style search device on the right side of the page
will find DVD's,
Posters for Assault On Precinct 13 instantly from the big name
suppliers on the web who really care about price and service.
It also finds other web sites for Assault On Precinct 13 too! [«
70's Movies Rewind is proudly a spam-free non-commercial
site, written by 70s movie fans... for '70s movie fans.
If you enjoy this site,
please help to support us and keep us SPAM FREE by ordering
your stuff through this service. As you probably already know,
we are not a corporation, but just 80's fans like you. We're
not after your $$$, just a contribution to the running costs...
updating and improving, so please and check back with us regularly...