If you haven’t already, please check out my post from yesterday explaining everything about #Johnuary.

I’ll continue looking at John Carpenter’s filmography by tackling one of his best films, Assault on Precinct 13. I’ll cut straight to the chase. I loved this movie. Thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.

This was the second Carpenter film I watched and even from the opening titles this film was much more stylish than Dark Star. It was only made 2 years later but he had obviously managed to get a much bigger budget.

But let’s go back to the opening titles. From the first 10 seconds I loved this film. The whole title sequence had the same sort of vibe as the opening to Stranger Things. Just a much simpler version. But the music is similar and it’s obviously red text on black. Composed by Carpenter of course. I love the whole soundtrack too. This is possibly my favourite Carpenter soundtrack of all the movies.

Here are some other thoughts I had about this film in no particular order.

  • The slow panning shots with actors walking slowly, in the bright LA sunshine are great. It’s what Carpenter does so well. Cinematic vistas where he just lets the shot breathe. For example when Lt. Bishop starts his day and walks out to his car, most directors would probably show about 4 seconds of that but Carpenter films it in a long, slow panning shot, with no talking, which lets you take in what the characters must be feeling as he starts his day and also lets you take in the beautiful surroundings too. I just love the simplicity and confidence around shots like that
  • And then almost right after that shot I also love the shot of Bishop driving along the road talking on the radio. I imagine it was real life and not green screen, although perhaps it was on the back of a truck, but he drives for ages without hitting a red light. I wonder how planned out it was, to get a driving shot that long
  • The ice cream shooting is pretty infamous and must have been pretty shocking back in ’76. To be honest it’s reasonably harsh even by today’s standards
  • The film has Carpenter’s first use of the actor Charles Cyphers who appeared in several other Carpenter films like Escape From New York, The Fog and in particular Halloween. I think he’s possibly Carpenter’s most used actor
  • The ‘potatoes’ scene is hilarious. It’s a very serious point in the film and yet the two actors pull off this childish way of choosing who’s going to volunteer absolutely brilliantly. It doesn’t come off as comic at all but it makes you laugh in a very clever way at a stressful part of the movie. Humour used very well
  • There are some beautiful shots also from cameras attached to sides of cars. Very 70s and also the kind of shot Carpenter would recreate several times, particularly in Christine
  • I love Laurie Zimmer’s cool as a cucumber, understated acting. Very classy. That scene with her giving Nelson the cigarette and then lighting the match is just incredible. It’s a shame she didn’t go on to do much more acting.
  • The gang members outside, just standing blankly looking at the police building, and then suddenly disappearing is a tactic used many times by Carpenter in movies such as Prince of Darkness and Halloween

All in all I was hugely impressed by this movie and it will rank very highly indeed in my final Carpenter ranking.

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All images from Blu-Ray.com