“Can’t argue with a confident man.”Napoleon Wilson
Two years before directing Halloween, John Carpenter made his name with the suspenseful Assault on Precinct 13 in which a handful of cops and criminals are forced to work together to defend a defunct L.A. police station under siege by a gang. The initial setup of lawmen under siege and waiting for rescue, is reminiscent of Rio Bravo, but the focus here is solely on tension rather than interpersonal dynamics: the characters are all mere sketches, save perhaps Darwin Joston’s cunning yet charming death row inmate, Napoleon Wilson. The sinister, voiceless gang members serve more as a traditional cinematic monster than human antagonists, a relentless and seemingly infinite menace like Romero’s zombie horde. Above all, Carpenter’s mesmerisingly minimalist electronic score (using a single synthesizer) serves to elevate the oppressive atmosphere and one can easily hear its direct influence on Daft Punk’s Tron: Legacy score 30 years later.