Menu
Home / Film / Home Video / Assault on Precinct 13 (US Blu-Ray Review)

Assault on Precinct 13 (US Blu-Ray Review)

Specs

Specs

Details

Director: John Carpenter
Cast: Austin Stoker, Darwin Joston, Laurie Zimmer, Martin West, Tony Burton
Year: 1976
Length: 91 min
Rating: R
Region: A
Disks: 1
Label: Shout! Factory
Release Date: 19 November 2013

Video

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Type: Color

Audio

Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
Subtitles: English

Extras
  • Audio Commentary with writer/director John Carpenter
  • NEW Audio Commentary with Art Director & Sound Effects Editor Tommy Lee Wallace
  • NEW interview with actress Nancy Loomis Kyes
  • NEW interview with actor Austin Stoker
  • Interview with John Carpenter and Austin Stoker
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Radio Spots

917uL5dYbBL._SL1500_It’s always interesting to consider the impact the western genre has made on horror and action filmmaking. Aesthetics, storytelling tropes and settings of western films have shown themselves time and time again throughout the latter genres, which can be seen in the work of Kathryn Bigelow (Near Dark), J.T. Petty (The Burrowers) and John Carpenter (Assault on Precinct 13). While Carpenter would later revisit these same themes in his later career films Vampires and Ghosts of Mars, he’s never expressed them with such intense vigor and devotion as he did with Assault, which hits in a new Collector’s Edition Blu-ray courtesy of SHOUT! Factory.

The Film

Assault on Precinct 13 follows the western archetype of a “last stand” story, with a band of unexpected allies finding themselves face to face with a horde of murderers. Famously used by Sam Peckinpah and in the film Rio Bravo, Carpenter moves the action into an urban setting, placing our protagonists in a police precinct under siege by a wary and firepower-heavy gang looking for revenge. However, what Carpenter does more brilliantly is weave in his incredibly written characters and knack for slow-burning tension, which give the film a thrilling edge and an aura of horror filmmaking as the unstoppable force comes down upon our heroes.

John Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

Of course, John Carpenter’s signature directorial style is all over the film, and the spurts of bloody violence are all integral to the progression of the plot. The wide framing of the film and subtle lighting, courtesy of cinematographer Douglas Knapp, help the film feel even more like a classic western, but also add to the despair of the characters and the pure terror inspired by the villains. Of course, added on is Carpenter’s moody score, tight editing and surprisingly affecting script, which is especially noticeable retroactively but only lifts the film’s fun factor.

As per usual for a Carpenter film, the acting is top notch as well, surprisingly so given the film’s exploitation-comparisons in its initial release critical barrage. Darwin Joston and Austin Stoker are dynamite in their performances, never going over-the-top with their portrayals and yet keeping their dialogue and action with such finesse that it’s difficult not to see the two as the coolest men in the room. Laurie Zimmer is a restrained and cold wonder in her role, and Tony Burton adds an energetic and neurotic flair as the bad-luck-prone, second-rate prisoner. Special mention should also be given to Charles Cyphers in his small-but-memorable role as the officer who runs the prison bus and shares a fascinating back-and-forth with Joston’s Napoleon.

John Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

Video

SHOUT! does a great job with what is given to them with this transfer of Assault. There is a thick, but fine film grain on display, which is mostly visible when mixed with the black crush during the overtly darker moments in the film, but should only bother those who prefer their Blu-ray’s with heavy digital noise reduction. There are a few fuzzy shots here and there, but for the most part, the image is sharp and well defined, yet there is no sign of digital sharpening. There really aren’t many noticeable problems with the print either, so this is another winner in SHOUT!’s long line of genre blu-ray releases.

John Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

Audio

At this point, is it anything but expected that SHOUT! delivers for their audio transfer? The Digital 5.1 Master Audio Mix is totally complimentary to Carpenter’s style. Effects sounds are kept lower in key than the dialogue and Carpenter’s score, but that benefits the film greatly and the range of the piece is kept crystal clear and respectably audible.

John Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

Extras

The features here are fun and definitely great accessories to the film, but nothing too essential or revelatory is revealed. Most of the features are carried over from previous releases, including the Isolated Score, the Commentary with John Carpenter and the interview with Stoker and Carpenter, but the newer supplements including 1:1 interviews with Stoker and star Nancy Loomis, as well as a new audio commentary from art director and longtime Carpenter cohort Tommy Lee Wallace are a very welcome inclusion. If you’re a Carpenter completist, these features will do you just fine, but don’t expect anything primarily new to come to the table.

John Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

Bottom Line

I’d definitely say that SHOUT! impresses with their new edition of Assault on Precinct 13. Care is taken with the audio and video transfers, and the film still holds up damn fine after all of this time.

Details Director: John Carpenter Cast: Austin Stoker, Darwin Joston, Laurie Zimmer, Martin West, Tony Burton Year: 1976 Length: 91 min Rating: R Region: A Disks: 1 Label: Shout! Factory Release Date: 19 November 2013 Video Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Resolution: 1080p Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Type: Color Audio Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and DTS-HD Master Audio Mono Subtitles: English Extras Audio Commentary with writer/director John Carpenter NEW Audio Commentary with Art Director & Sound Effects Editor Tommy Lee Wallace NEW interview with actress Nancy Loomis Kyes NEW interview with actor Austin Stoker Interview with John…

Review Overview

Film
Video
Audio
Extras

Bottom Line

User Rating: Be the first one !

About Jay Plainsafe

Jay Plainsafe is an amateur filmmaker and critic, dealing primarily in the realm of the absurd. He’s an advocate for the cult film in-theater experience and believes the VOD landscape has allowed incredible distribution to reshape the horror genre. He’s currently working on his first television pilot script and is not on any social media… yet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Stay Informed. Subscribe To Our Newsletter!

You will never receive spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

You have Successfully Subscribed!