Assault On Precinct 13 Special Edition on Blu-ray – The DVDfever Review

Assault On Precinct 13

Assault On Precinct 13 is one of those all-time classic movies which I’ve never got round to watching before now, but with this 40th Anniversary release, I still went in knowing as little as possible, and I could nitpick in that it’s not Precinct 13, but Precinct 9, Division 13.

Gang violence in rife after six members of LA’s Street Thunder outfit are gunned down by police leading those left to salute their fallen bretheren by carving a triangle in their arms and dripping their blood into a bowl. However, that won’t be the only blood spilled tonight.

Meanwhile, Lt Bishop (Austin Stoker) is caretaking Anderson Precinct for the night until it shuts down as everyone and everything is transferring to a nearby one. Hence, there’s nothing left to do other than stare at the walls, so it should be an easy night, right?

There’s an effervescent shootout or three after the place is set upon by gangs, in need of revenge for an incident that happens early on. The baddies are as thick as zombies, though, as they try to climb in through windows, get blasted by shotguns, and then MORE baddies try to climb through, and then *also* die. Didn’t they get the hint?!

There’s a bit of cheesy dialogue, such as when secretary Leigh (Laurie Zimmer) talks about running out time, and Death Row prisoner Wilson (Darwin Joston) tells her in his Southern drawl, “I was born outta time(!)”, plus unresolved sexual tension between the pair, which is one of a number of scenes influenced by some of John Carpenter‘s favourite films, the details of which I’ll leave you to learn from art director Tommy Lee Wallace‘s interview in the extras.

Add to this the irony of the “Support your local police” sign in the final shootout, and the director’s delicious iconic synth score which I could listen to all day, and this is a daft film at times but a very rewarding one.


Ethan Bishop (Austin Stoker) takes command of his post.


The film is presented in 2.35:1 and in 1080p high definition. Shot in Anamorphic Panavision, this is mostly an excellent, sharp print, but there’s the occasional part of a scene where it gets a bit ropey, such as part of the last scene we see in the station cells.

The audio is in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, and while there’s a lot of gunfire flying about, there’s nothing particular outstanding in that mix. It was originally shot in mono, so I’m not sure what the point of this addition was. However, Carpenter’s epic theme – and the whole soundtrack – is stunning and gripping, and sometimes feels like an additional character amongst the small main cast.

The extensive extras are as followed:

  • Return To Precinct 13 (9:28): In the first of four new interviews recorded for this disc, Austin Stokes (Bishop) talks about how his mum took him to the cinema all the time, and that he thought everything going on was just behind the screen. Then again, when I was a kid, I thought if someone died in a film, they did it for real, but that’s too far with the method acting 😉

    Darwin Joston was a neighbour of Carpenter’s sadly, Joston died in 1998 aged just 60.

  • Filmmaking with John (21:41): As told by art director and sound effects supremo Tommy Lee Wallace who first worked with Mr Carpenter on Dark Star, and how he blagged his way into the latter of the two jobs.

  • Producing Precinct 13 (15:39): Executive Producer Joseph Kaufman gives his thoughts on the filming, including the ice cream van shootout and how it was dealt with by the MPAA. They thought they’d get a “PG” cert?! Blimey!

  • The Sassy One (12:44): Nancy Loomis talks about how this is effectively the Western that Carpenter wanted to make when Hollywood weren’t commissioning any more Westerns, plus going on to star in Halloween.

  • Captain Voyeur (8:27): John Carpenter’s student film, made in 1969 but soon lost and discovered by chance in 2011, and restored by the National Film Preservation Foundation. It runs for seven minutes, plus pre-film captions explaining how it came about. To say it’s a bit weird is an understatement.

  • Do You Remember Laurie Zimmer? (53:41): A 2003 movie about the actress. She showed great promise in Assault…, but then didn’t make any more films after 1977.

  • Interview with John Carpenter and Austin Stoker (23:08): A Q&A from about 15-20 years ago (it doesn’t state when exactly, but I’m estimating from the pair’s looks and hairstyles), shot in 4:3 with not the greatest audio quality.

  • Trailer (2:03): In slightly-windowboxed 16:9 and very ropey quality, but not too spoilery.

  • Radio spots (1:04): Audio adverts.

  • Audio commentaries: One apiece from John Carpenter and Tommy Lee Wallace. Would’ve been better if they’d collaborated.

Note that if you buy the Limited Edition Steelbook, you’ll also get 5 Art Cards and a Bonus soundtrack CD.

The main menu features a short piece of the classic theme set against clips from the film, and there’s a decent number of chapters with 16. Subtitles are in English.

Assault On Precinct 13 Special Edition is out now on Blu-ray/DVD Dual Format and Limited Edition Blu-ray Steelbook, and check out the full-size cover by clicking on the packshot.


Stoker with Laurie Zimmer and Darwin Joston.


FILM
PICTURE QUALITY
SOUND QUALITY
EXTRAS
8
9
8
9
OVERALL 8.5


Detailed specs:
Cert:
Running time: 91 mins
Year: 1976
Distributor: Second Sight
Released: January 9th 2017
Chapters: 16
Cat.no: 2NDBR4063
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Dual Mono
Languages: English
Subtitles: English
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Panavision)
Disc Format: BD50

Director: John Carpenter
Producer: J Stein Kaplan
Screenplay: John Carpenter
Music: John Carpenter

Cast:
Ethan Bishop: Austin Stoker
Napoleon Wilson: Darwin Joston
Leigh: Laurie Zimmer
Lawson: Martin West
Wells: Tony Burton
Starker: Charles Cyphers
Julie: Nancy Loomis
Ice Cream Man: Peter Bruni
Warden: John J Fox
Patrolman Tramer: Marc Ross
Patrolman Baxter: Alan Koss
Chaney: Henry Brandon
Kathy: Kim Richards
White Warlord: Frank Doubleday
Chicano Warlord: Gilbert De La Pena
Caudell: Peter Frankland
Gang Member: John Carpenter (uncredited)
Precinct Captain: James Jeter (uncredited)

Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.


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