7.4/10
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Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

Trailer
2:03 | Trailer
An unlikely partnership between a Highway Patrol Officer, two criminals and a station secretary is formed to defend a defunct Los Angeles precinct office against a siege by a bloodthirsty street gang.

Director:

John Carpenter

Writer:

John Carpenter
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Austin Stoker ... Ethan Bishop
Darwin Joston ... Napoleon Wilson
Laurie Zimmer ... Leigh
Martin West ... Lawson
Tony Burton ... Wells
Charles Cyphers ... Starker
Nancy Kyes ... Julie (as Nancy Loomis)
Peter Bruni Peter Bruni ... Ice Cream Man
John J. Fox John J. Fox ... Warden
Marc Ross Marc Ross ... Patrolman Tramer
Alan Koss Alan Koss ... Patrolman Baxter
Henry Brandon ... Chaney
Kim Richards ... Kathy
Frank Doubleday ... White Warlord
Gilbert De la Pena Gilbert De la Pena ... Chicano Warlord (as Gilbert De La Pena)
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Storyline

Police ambush and kill several gang members in Los Angeles. Gang members make a pact of blood to strike back at police, and conduct a siege on the police station which is almost abandoned and due to be closed. Staff of the closing precinct and the criminals being held there while in transit must work together to fight off the attacking gang members. Written by Scott McKenna <smckenna@lcb.state.nv.us>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A cop with a war on his hands. His enemy... an army of street killers. His only ally... a convicted murderer. See more »

Genres:

Action | Crime | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

John Carpenter paid homage to the British distributor of the film, Michael Myers, by using his name for the psychopathic murderer in Halloween (1978). See more »

Goofs

Kathy is casually shot by a gang member when she wants to get the ice cream cone she ordered. She is shot holding the ice cream cone. When her father goes up to her when she's dead on the ground, the ice cream cone is nowhere near her. See more »

Quotes

Napoleon Wilson: Still have the gun?
Leigh: Two shots. Should I save them for the two of us?
Napoleon Wilson: Save 'em for the first two assholes who come through that vent.
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Connections

Referenced in RoboCop: Prime Directives (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

Assault On Precinct 13 (Main Title)
Written by John Carpenter
Performed by John Carpenter and Tommy Lee Wallace
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User Reviews

 
on par with its inspiration(s); a must see Carpenter classic
16 April 2006 | by Quinoa1984See all my reviews

Ackowledged by it's own creator on the DVD, Assault on Precinct 13 is a bit more of a hybrid than just a sheer homage to Howard Hawks's Rio Bravo. It has traces of that (editing name, ho-ho), and of the Western specifics in bits of the storytelling devices and stereotypes. But it also has traces of the horror film, of the basic theme of demise by outside forces that not only rests in the best of zombie films but also in a lot of Carpenter's later work. What makes the film seem fresh today, even if it takes its time to get started in the first half hour, is how focused the action is around the story. Even with these basic characters- those with speaking parts closer to archetypes than not- it all works. It's a practically-perfect midnight movie.

You've got your good guys, a mix of cops and criminals (one of them, Darwin Joston's Napoleon Wilson, has enough style as an actor without even flinching at times). And you've got the ravenous gang (achem, zombies) out for blood after a gun down by a vengeful father. What surprising about how this very simple premise is set up, of a showdown in the worst pit of Los Angeles, is how it's all close to being just a pure exploitation film. But there's some thought or maybe just music to the film (not the actual music, though that's cool in its way) just as relentless as in Carpenter's other work, maybe even more in its rough way. It is a violent film, but the violence comes and goes leaving more room for talk than one might expect given it's by-a-thread rating. It's quite clear where the visual style would end up lending itself to in later years too (i.e. Reservoir Dogs).

When taking aside the occasional misstep, like an unneeded (suggested) sub-plot (not that Joston or Laurie Zimmer are bad actors, but they lack chemistry), Assault on Precinct 13 comes out without many scratches at all. It's a lean film at 90 minutes, with enough tension for two more. When it is shocking it shocks, when it wants a cheap, solid laugh or (more often) grin it comes through, and it doesn't pull any punches in letting you know here and there this is nothing more than a genre exercise. That Carpenter is able to pull it off so un-pretentiously is a credit to his first inspiration, as well as to the spirit of the long boiled ingredients of older films. In short, the most cult you can find by the filmmaker without going to his previous effort Dark Star. Grade: A


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 November 1976 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Anderson Alamo See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$150,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

CKK See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono | Dolby Stereo (DVD re-release)

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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