After the sarky sci-fi of Dark Star, the all-directing, all-producing, all-writing, all-doing-the-musicking Carpenter came back to Earth with a squelch. And several crunches. And absolutely loads of clanging great gunshots in enclosed spaces.
Taking its cue - and several lines - from Howard Hawks's Rio Bravo (unlikely bunch of defenders holed up in a besieged cop-shop), Assault is a lowest of lo-fi urban Westerns, where Carpenter makes the good guys bad and the bad guys much, much worse.
Bishop (Austin Stoker) is the rookie cop forced to spring notorious killer Napoleon Wilson (Darwin Joston) from his LA jail, to help him fend off a relentless, zombie-like gang onslaught. It's doomy, gloomy and the pace is often a little lingering and '70s-languid. But Carpenter's gift for boosting genre material with sackfuls of down'n'dirty style is already evident - from his restless score to Napoleon's melancholy-but-lethal wise-ass badass: "Days are like women. Each one so damn precious, but they all end up leaving you."