Assault on Precinct 13 (1976): John Carpenter’s Remake of Hawks Cult Movie Rio Bravo

This low-budget thriller was made early on in the career of John Carpenter, still best known for his influential horror feature, Halloween.

An update of Howard Hawks’ cult movie, Rio Bravo of 1959, tautly directed by Carpenter, the film holds up well and stands on its own merits. Assault on Precinct 13 also borrows from George Romero’s seminal zombie movie of 1968, Night of the Living Dead.
Set for the most part in a L.A. police station, the tale centers on the soon to be invaded place by a multi-racial gang. The gang has murdered a young girl, whose father then ran to the station for help.

When police officer Bishop (Austin Stoker) is left in charge of Precinct 13 on its last day, he isn’t prepared for the attack of a murderous gang, whose members possess guns.

Also trapped in the precinct with Bishop are two secretaries, several civilians and prisoners. Bishop is unable to summon help because the phones have been disconnected, the electricity has been shut down, and the precinct is in a run-neighborhood.

Thus, Bishop and the prisoners join forces, but as the number of casualties rise and the supplies run low, they must make tough choices between a risky escape or death.

Carpenter also wrote the script and composed the moody score. The sharp, shadowy cinematographer by Douglas H. Knapp, who also shot Carpenter’s 1974 debut, Dark Star, and crisp edition by John Chance, contribute to a highly suspenseful and entertaining picture.

Running time: 91 Minutes.