Combustible Celluloid
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With: Austin Stoker, Darwin Joston, Laurie Zimmer, Martin West, Tony Burton, Charles Cyphers, Nancy Loomis
Written by: John Carpenter
Directed by: John Carpenter
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 91
Date: 11/04/1976

Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Police on My Back

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

John Carpenter has held onto his fans by remaining true to his specific vision, using the Cinemascope aspect ratio, working within "genre" pictures and living by an old-fashioned Hollywood work ethic. Assault on Precinct 13 is one of Carpenter's best, an uncompromising, ultra-gritty cop story wherein angry gang members try to storm a nearly empty police station.

A cop (Austin Stoker) reluctantly teams up with a killer (Darwin Joston) and a secretary (Laurie Zimmer) to stop the siege. Carpenter approaches his characters with warmth and respect, the pacing is crisp, and the action crackles with energy.

It's Carpenter's unofficial remake of Howard Hawks' great Western, Rio Bravo; Carpenter revisited the same story in a slightly different form with 2001's Ghosts of Mars. Co-star Nancy Loomis went on to appear in Carpenter's Halloween a year later, while the gorgeous Zimmer disappeared from movies altogether.

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