Cosmo sees the films
By Derek Malcolm
John Carpenter's ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 is a thriller made with a tiny budget, no well-known stars and a directorial tongue firmly in the cheek; the sort of project that might have seemed destined to be the second half of a double bill, makes a quick buck or two and disappears into limbo. Instead it is fast becoming one of the cult movies of the year. Its plot revolves around a young police lieutenant and a policewoman who find themselves holed up in a disused police station with two dangerous criminals as prisoners and a band of maniac hoods outside trying to get in.
The great virtue of the film is the way it grabs hold of its audience and simply refuses to let go. It exploits all our fears of irrational violence and unmotivated attack, and at the same time manages to laugh at itself without spoiling the tension - a very considerable feat. Carpenter, who is clearly a director with places to go, has succeeded in making a comedy that scares the pants off us. And don't think you're laughing at it. As a matter of fact, it's laughing at you.