Saturday, June 25, 2011

Assault on Precinct 13. A-


I've been watching quite a few John Carpenter movies lately to strengthen my knowledge of his work. The only films of his I'd previously visited were Escape from New York, seen almost without sound so my parents wouldn't hear my watching it late one night, and The Thing, as part of my quest to see IMDB's 250 list. Though some would argue that the 2005 remake is a better film, I absolutely loved Carpenter's original Precinct 13. The characters are fantastic and the action hits hard, but how about that thumping, penetrating score that Carpenter composed himself? I'm not one to love soundtracks from 70s movies, but this one worked wonders. It's simple like a Clint Eastwood score, and like Eastwood, Carpenter has a perfect ear for matching music with content. Assault on Precinct 13 is essentially a modern day Western in which a group of terrifyingly angry rebels attack an old police station soon to be shut down forever. And of course this occurs on the night that newly promoted cop Ethan Bishop (Austin Stoker) is in charge of the station with only a few hours before it closes permanently. There are some other contrivances, such as a prison bus stopping at the closest prison to tend to a sick convict. Guess which is closest? This is early, early John Carpenter, before Halloween or even The Fog. While Halloween may be his most crucial work, I can't help but feel this is one of his best films, and surely a major influence on later action movies, and maybe even zombie flicks, too. After all, the gang members, with no real value of life, just sort of ramble into the station almost as if it's a sacrificial ceremony. They are not afraid to die. The result looks a little like a zombie movie.

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