Category Archives: Films Released in 1976
ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13-United States-1976
Written and Directed by John Carpenter
Let’s play a game, you and I. It’s a simple game of word association. I’ll tell you a name and you tell me the first thing that comes to mind. Are you ready?
Now, I never said I was good at this game. But did you notice that there’s a pattern to my madness? We know John Carpenter for his horror and for his science fiction films; but do we always remember that he was also the director of one of the best low budget action films of the 1970′s, “Assault on Precinct 13?” Watching this film I began to see the thematic templates that Carpenter would follow throughout most of his career. A small group of people under siege by an unseen or alien (or both) force; an anti-hero who puts his life on the line for the greater good; a soundtrack created by Carpenter himself that throbs along with, and against the beat of the action. All of these things have been evident in Carpenter’s films for years and I truly believe that this is where they began.
After a gang member murders his young daughter, a father kills him in retaliation. When the man seeks refuge in Precinct 13, the gang lays siege to the station; shooting it up and killing anything that moves inside. After the smoke clears the only ones left standing inside the station are a cop (Austin Stoker, “Battle for the Planet of the Apes“), a secretary (Laurie Zimmer) and two convicts, Wells (Tony Burton, “Rocky”) and a death row bound Napoleon Wilson (Darwin Joston, “The Fog”). Outnumbered and outgunned, will they survive the assault on Precinct 9, District 13?
The highlight of this film would have to be Joston’s performance as Wilson. He takes a stereotypical character, the guy with nothing left to lose, and makes it completely his own. There’s a lot of Snake Plissken and R.J. MacReady in Napoleon Wilson.
“Assault on Precinct 13″ was inspired in part by Howard Hawk’s “Rio Bravo“. I’ve never seen “Rio Bravo”; but if it’s anything at all like ‘Precinct 13′ then I’m in for a treat.
Got a smoke?
Following the release of his first feature, Dark Star, John Carpenter was approached by a group of investors who gave him carte blanche to make whatever kind of picture he wanted, albeit with a very limited budget. Although Carpenter wanted to make a Western, he knew he wouldn’t have the resources to make a period piece. He wrote this film as a highly stylized, modern-day western, essentially remaking Rio Bravo, which was directed by Carpenter’s hero, Howard Hawks. Carpenter acknowledges this debt to Hawks and “Rio Bravo” by using the pseudonym of John T. Chance for his film editor’s credit, which was the name of John Wayne’s character in “Rio Bravo”.
The assault takes place on Precinct 9, Division 13. Many have noted the title misnomer, since there is no “Precinct 13″ in the film. At first, Carpenter wanted to call the film “The Anderson Alamo” (the original title of his screenplay), and, at one point, he changed the working title to “The Siege.” CKK, the film’s distributor, was responsible for the misnomer; they rejected Carpenter’s titles and came up with the name “Assault on Precinct 13″ (which they felt was more ominous sounding) during post-production.
The precinct’s new address, 1977 Ellendale Place (written on a sign erected in front of the building), was director John Carpenter’s real address when he first lived in Los Angeles.
John Carpenter has acknowledged Night of the Living Dead was an influence on the marauding street gang. Like George Romero’s zombies, they’re completely dehumanized. They hardly talk and almost seem supernatural in their ongoing resilience.
- John Carpenter on how to give people the creeps (arts.nationalpost.com)
- John Carpenter to hit Fan Expo (lfpress.com)
- Flashback Weekend 2012: John Carpenter Panel Highlights Part Two (dreadcentral.com)
- Our Daily Trailer: JOHN CARPENTER’S GHOSTS OF MARS (badassdigest.com)
- Flashback Weekend 2012: John Carpenter Panel Highlights Part One (dreadcentral.com)
- Tell me a movie! (moviemorlocks.com)
- Jarv’s Birthday Series Redux: The Thing (1982) (moonwolves.wordpress.com)
- Beak – >> (thequietus.com)
- The Walking Dead Episode 3: Long Road Ahead [Review] (incgamers.com)
- Apocalypse Of The Dead (2009) (horror-movie-a-day.blogspot.com)
TAXI DRIVER: An appreciation for God‘s LonelyMan
This is a question for my blogger friends. Why do you write a blog? What is that drives you to put words onto the brightness of your computer screen? I know why I do it. I do it because I want to feel as if I am a part of something that is bigger than me. I admit that I get a little rush when I read a favorable comment or when someone likes a review I’ve written. I feel good when I check my page view count for the day and I’ve had a few hundred visitors. That means that all the times that I have sat alone in a dark room watching movie after movie has not been in vain. When I sit at my computer racking my brain for the right words to say I know that someone, somewhere will read what I have written and will appreciate it in some way or another. I am alone as I sit and type, but I am not lonely.
In Taxi Driver, Travis Bickle is always alone. Even in scenes where he is surrounded by other people, he is ultimately and painfully alone. In the scene in the diner with his co-workers he is off to one side of the table, slightly separate from the rest. Again, in the diner, this time with Iris, the young prostitute that he feels a need to save, he is still alone. Why? Because his ideas, his way of thinking is so out of tune with hers that they are two people on separate sides of a desert island; always knowing that the other exists, but never making that connection.
The saddest and most heart wrenching scene in the film comes when Travis, after taking Betsy to a pornographic movie on their first date together, is on the phone in a lonely hallway pleading with her to give him another chance. As we listen the camera pans away from him. We don’t know whether to console him or put him down like a dog to ease his misery. Travis is so far out of touch with the rest of the world. He is never alone, yet he is lonely; and he is alone and he is lonely. By its own design, the job of a taxi driver is one of the loneliest jobs on the planet. A cabbie is continually in a situation where he is with people and yet they are all rank strangers to him. For the brief time that they are in his cab, they are a part of Travis’ world, but at no point in time is he ever a part of theirs. Travis Bickle truly is God’s Lonely Man.
Again, I will ask you; why do you do what you do?
- When did I become a Taxi Driver? (motherhoodmania.wordpress.com)
- 2 arrested in 2010 shooting death of Cobb taxi driver (ajc.com)
- Script To Screen: “Taxi Driver” (gointothestory.blcklst.com)
- Mean Streets: The Landscape of New York in Taxi Driver (kubrickontheguillotine.com)
I graduated in 1980. I was a decent student; I got fair grades, and I had enough friends that I could put up with and whom would put up with me. I dated a few girls here and there. I never went to prom, however. Looking back, I wonder if Carrie had anything to do with that. In fact, looking back at the film in the thirty-six years since its release, one could view Brian De Palma’s adaptation of Stephen King’s first novel as the perfect anti-bullying propaganda film.
Sissy Spacek is phenomenal in the titular role of Carrie White, the young girl whose life sucks worse than Battlefield Earth (pointless L. Ron Hubbard jab and shameless John Travolta film reference). Not only does she put up with the day to day torment forced on her by her peers (PLUG IT UP!! PLUG IT UP!!), but she has to go home to an over-zealous religious freak of a mother who locks her in a closet with a hideous looking glow-in-the-dark figure of Jesus. Add getting dowsed in pig blood and it’s no wonder she goes the Psychic Friends Network version of sex-nuts and retard-strong (equally shameless Clerks 2 reference).
I’m not entirely sure if Carrie is Brian De Palma’s best film. I still need to re-watch Blow Out and Dressed to Kill before I make that call. I will say, however, that it is truly one of his most ambitious films and that after nearly forty years is still one of the best interpretations of a Stephen King novel ever put to celluloid.
Sissy Spacek wasn’t considered for the role of Carrie until her husband, art director Jack Fisk, convinced director Brian De Palma to allow her to audition. Until that, De Palma was wedded to the idea of Amy Irving playing Carrie; when Spacek got the part instead, De Palma gave Irving the smaller role of Sue.
- ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ Helmer Wanted To Direct ‘Carrie’ Reboot (screenrant.com)
- Kimberly Peirce to Direct New Carrie? (manodogs.blogspot.com)
- ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ Director Kimberly Peirce to Remake Stephen King’s ‘Carrie’ (slashfilm.com)
- Could your face fit Stephen King’s next novel? (guardian.co.uk)
Directed by William Girdler
Screenplay by Harvey Flaxman and David Sheldon
Indian Story by Andrew Prine (uncredited)
I love finding these old movies that I watched when I was a kid. It’s always exciting to find out whether or not they were just as good as I remember them. I was in f.y.e. last week when I found the film that’s the subject of this week’s review. I’m talking about Grizzly, the 1976 motion picture that made it as unsafe to go into the woods as Jaws made it a bad idea to go into the ocean. I believe I was all of 14 when my cousin and I went to see it. Now, like Jaws, Grizzly is all about a killer animal that terrorizes the campers and rangers of an unnamed National Park. The park ranger, played by Christopher George, does his best to keep everybody alive just like Roy Scheider in Jaws. With the help of Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss…oh, shoot…I mean Andrew Prine and Richard Jaeckel, he does his best. That is when his hands aren’t tied by this guy in a suit who refuses to listen and insists that the beach…damn, I did it again…the park stays open.
Enough joking aside, Grizzly was the first film after Jaws to feature berserk-animal-on-the-loose horror. It’s cheaply made, the acting is comparable to a high school play and the effects are average at best. But what the film lacks in quality it more than makes up for in heart. Grizzly is one of the best damn Jaws rip-offs in film history. It’s one of those films where if you were to see it in the theatre you would hear people shouting things like “You better run!!” or “Oh shit! He just knocked that horses head off!!!!” You know that kind of stuff. Isn’t that the best kind of compliment you can give a movie?
A bear who was nicknamed “Teddy” played the role of the killer grizzly bear. “Teddy” stood 11 feet tall and at that time was the largest grizzly bear in captivity and was trained, but untamed by the bear’s trainer. The crew was protected from Teddy by an electrical thin green wire that ran throughout the forest locations. In addition, a mechanical bear was used for when the bear had attacked.
The original poster art for this movie was by comic book artist Neal Adams.
This ended up becoming the most financially successful independent motion picture of 1976, earning an impressive $39 million world wide in box office revenue, breaking records as well. It held this record for two solid years, until Halloween broke it.