April 19: Assault On Precinct 13

Assault On Precinct 13 USA 1976 d. John Carpenter with Austin Stoker, Darwin Joston, Laurie Zimmer, Tony Burton, Nancy Loomis and Frank Doubleday. Colour. 91m

“Street punks were the villains of choice for many a Hollywood vigilante in that decade, from Dirty Harry and Death Wish to A Clockwork Orange and Straw Dogs. But in Precinct 13, the gang members are more like a supernatural force—silent and implacable and apparently numberless, they never speak and don’t even groan when they’re shot. They’re just the embodiment of everything and everyone that frightened urbanites in an era of rising crime and spiraling decay. (They’re also scrupulously ethnically diverse, probably because they were played by USC grad students.)

The South Central L.A. they inhabit is all but devoid of law-abiding civilians—it’s just a featureless, underpopulated landscape of sun-blasted empty lots and tired bungalows. When the siege begins, there’s no one around to hear the gunfire, because the nearby houses are all abandoned. The police lieutenant, who, we learn, grew up in this now-broken neighborhood, has trouble processing the scale of urban disinvestment. ‘We’re in the middle of a city!’ he says, twice. ‘Someone will come by.’ “ [David Dudley]

Links:  AFI  IMDB  Wikipedia