Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)


Written by Tim Dirks

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Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

In writer/director John Carpenter's gripping, R-rated, low-budget, cult classic urban horror-action thriller with an electronic score - his first major feature film as a director - it told about an LA officer's defense of a nearly-deserted precinct station (Precinct 9, Division 13), in a crime-ridden ghetto known as Anderson against vengeful multi-racial gang members - the director's film was a modernized homage to Howard Hawks' western Rio Bravo (1959), to Night of the Living Dead (1968), and possibly to the sci-fi hit The Thing from Another World (1951); Carpenter revisited the film with a slightly-revised story in Ghosts of Mars (2001); an action-thriller remake Assault on Precinct 13 (2005) paid homage to the original, and starred Ethan Hawke and Lawrence Fishburne:

  • the film's most controversial scene was a gang sniper's infamous shooting of a defenseless young suburban girl named Kathy (Kim Richards); she had just bought an ice cream cone from a driver-vendor (Peter Bruni) of a blue ice-cream van; but as she walked away, she noticed that she had been given the wrong flavor - she said to herself: "Hey, this is regular vanilla"; she turned around to walk back to the truck, where she complained: "I wanted vanilla twist!"; she was coldly shot point-blank by the white gang leader-sniper (Frank Doubleday), credited as a White Warlord, with a long gun silencer, who had just knocked out the vendor; the sniper then put two bullets into the downed ice-cream man; Kathy's father Mr. Lawson (Martin West) was nearby making a call in a phone booth
  • after his call, Lawson discovered his daughter's dead body next to the van, and then grabbed a gun from the van and pursued the getaway car; by 7 pm that night, he confronted the sniper and shot him dead, although there would be revenge from the sniper's warlord buddies in a gang known as "Street Thunder" who chased after and pursued Lawson to the Precinct Station

Lawson Viewing His Daughter's Dead Body

White Warlord-Sniper Shot Dead by Lawson
  • Lawson raced to the precinct station where he reported he was being followed - but he was so traumatized, comatose and catatonic that he couldn't provide details, and he collapsed; the poorly-equipped station was being manned on its final night by black CHIP officer Lt. Ethan Bishop (Austin Stoker), with phone switchboard operator Julie (Nancy Loomis), secretary Leigh (Laurie Zimmer), and an elderly Sgt. Chaney (Henry Brandon); the precinct station, located in a suburb of LA known as Anderson, was soon-to-be-decommissioned
  • a long and vengeful siege and attack (known as a Cholo) was conducted by a violent, multi-racial urban, South Central LA street gang with silencer guns who had sworn a blood-oath of revenge against the LAPD, and Lawson in particular
  • the station was defended by a small skeleton crew led by Lt. Bishop, and a motley group of prisoners being transported in a prison bus to the Sonora State Prison by Special Officer Starker (Charles Cyphers) who made an emergency stop at the station for the night; they included muscular black-man Wells (Tony Burton), sickly and thin white man Caudell (Peter Frankland), and psychotic, dangerous death-row inmate Napoleon Wilson (Darwin Joston)
  • the film's tagline described the cops vs. street-gang conflict: "A cop with a war on his hands. His enemy... an army of street killers. His only ally... a convicted murderer"; in the first moments of the assault, Sgt. Chaney, special agent Starker, the prison bus driver, Caudell, and the two patrolmen accompanying Starker were all killed; in a second wave, phone operator Julie was shot dead and secretary Leigh was shot in the arm; and when Wells attempted to sneak out and hot-wire a car, he was ambushed from behind and killed
  • during the final assault on the precinct, highway patrol officer Lt. Bishop had been forced to team up with convict Wilson to confront the vast enemy that outnumbered them, although he was uneasy about the partnership; after many of the marauders were killed, Bishop detonated an acetylene tank and the explosion killed dozens more of the gang members
  • the only survivors of the deadly assault were Bishop, the station's secretary Leigh, criminal inmate Wilson, and a comatose Lawson

Kathy: "Hey, this is regular vanilla"


Kathy: "I wanted vanilla twist!"


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