Body Bags / Assault on Precinct 13

The opener is the best of the bunch, documenting the first — and quite possibly the last — night shift worked by a pretty young college student (Alex Datcher, Passenger 57) at a gas station. She sits locked in the cashier’s booth as a serial killer lurks close. The suspense gets to her as much as it gets to you, and it’s better than maybe all but one of the half-dozen features Carpenter helmed ever since.

Body Bags‘ other two tales are similar to one another in theme, both updates of well-known parables. A balding Stacy Keach (The Bourne Legacy) finds new hair to be the bane of his vain existence, while Mark Hamill (Star Wars, duh) gains a new eye … and then some. 

Shout! Factory’s Blu-ray/DVD combo pack means greedy eBay sellers no longer will garner hundreds of dollars for a VHS tape. Under the Scream Factory label, Shout! could’ve just released Body Bags to a happy fan base and called it a day, but nope — it went the extra mile with separate commentary tracks for each segment, a 20-minute featurette and Showtime’s original trailer, which is in as poor shape as the Blu-ray presentation is superb.  

Also new from Shout!/Scream is Carpenter’s pre-Halloween feature, 1976’s Assault on Precinct 13, for which the young turk merged elements of Night of the Living Dead with his beloved Westerns to craft a siege film of the highest (dis)order.

Following the death of six of their members at the hands of L.A. law enforcement, the Street Thunder gang surrounds and proceeds to infiltrate a neighborhood police station over the course of one long night with no explanation, much to the horror of the bullet-dodging cops and Death Row prisoners inside, who must band together in order to stay alive.

Packed with extras on this edition, Assault carries a lot of first-film flaws, primarily in initial pacing and amateur acting. But Carpenter’s idea is so solid that once the action kicks in, you’re hooked for the ride that follows. This is a movie that doesn’t pull many punches — the shocking ice-cream truck scene illustrates this — and it’s got a theme song that won’t get out of your head.  —Rod Lott

Hey! Read This!

• Birth of the Living Dead film review

• The Bourne Legacy film review

The Fog Blu-ray review

Prince of Darkness / Halloween: 35th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray review

Texas Chainsaw Blu-ray review

Rod Lott

This material falls under the archives category because it was imported from our previous website. It will eventually be filtered into the proper category as time allows.

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