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Saturday, 29 October 2016

Interview with actress Tracey Birdsall

Over the past few months a certain Science Fiction film, not to mention the performance of its leading lady, has been gaining a fair degree of festival and critical recognition. Neil Johnson’s highly anticipated sci-fi actioner ROGUE WARRIOR: ROBOT FIGHTER was named recently as the Opening Night Film at this year’s Action On Film Festival, a festival which is fast becoming a much sought after event to be part of for filmmakers.

"Ahh, but what be this ROGUE WARRIOR: ROBOT FIGHTER that you be speaking of me hearty?" I hear you ask in your best Pirate voice. To be honest, I really have no idea at all why I hear that question in a Pirate voice, I blame the copious amounts of coffee that I've consumed today. However, it's a fair question.

ROGUE WARRIOR: ROBOT FIGHTER is a complex science-fiction actioner described as Mad Max meets Star Wars. Written by Neil Johnson, the science fiction film is set in the distant future depicting the overthrow of humanity by artificial intelligence on Earth and other worlds. Starring are Tracey Birdsall, William Kircher (The Hobbit), Daz Crawford (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”), Stephen Manley (Star Trek III), and Marilyn Ghiggliotti (Clerks).

It was a little while ago when I published on the News section of the 5D website at that the film had just won numerous awards at the Malibu West International Film Awards, including Best Actress (Tracey Birdsall), Best Director (Neil Johnson), Sound Design (Vic Kaspar, Dirk Kloiber) and the Unique Vision award (Neil Johnson). Not only that, but it was becoming quite clear from all and sundry that Tracey Birdsall's performance of Sienna—the film’s tough, intelligent and sexy leading character—is nothing short of exhilarating.

Once again I know what you are thinking. However I couldn't possibly comment about the fact that my interest was peaked not only by the fact that a current sci-fi film was gaining some plaudits, but also by the fact that a gorgeous blonde actress was playing the heroine of the story. Nope. Well OK, maybe just a little.

It is at this point is where Tracey Birdsall made her first mistake....... (A sentence that reads infinitely more creepy and sinister that it was actually meant).

Because shortly after she kindly retweeted the 5D website news I immediately decided to do what I do best in this modern social networking world, yes that's right, I sent her a friend request. She then made her second mistake in accepting that request. Her third and final mistake was then actually replying to my pestering for an interview, for which the transcript is below. I'm sure you'll agree that she is a fabulous interviewee.

Just before I show you the interview with her loveliness, here's a look at an excerpt from her IMDB bio for those poor souls who are as yet unfamiliar with Tracey.......

"Tracey Birdsall is an award-winning American film and television actress recognised worldwide for her diverse and challenging roles - which recently earned her the esteemed Female Action Performer of the Year Award at the highly regarded Action on Film Festival for her role of Sienna in the recently Premiered and highly anticipated Science Fiction film Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter (2016).

Birdsall has four feature films which will be released in 2016 alone: The lead of Sienna in the up-coming science fiction film Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter (2016) opposite William Kircher, Daz Crawford, and Stephen Manley, the lead of Jenna in the up-coming comedy feature Who's Jenna...? (2016) opposite Bill Sorvino, Garry Pastore, and Joseph D'Onofrio, playing herself in the up-coming Australian comedy Diary of a Fatman (2016), and the role of Dijanne in the up-coming science fiction film At the Edge of Time (2016). She was also just cast as the female lead in Dance of the Blue Tattoo opposite Harry Lennix (The Blacklist (2013), filming soon in Gran Canaria. Birdsall can be seen opposite Barry Corbin once again in 2017 in The Time War (2017), a time travel film featuring a narration by Christopher Lee.

She was the female lead the feature film I Might Even Love You (1998) opposite Leigh McCloskey and James Van Patten which had a Cannes Festival debut, and also performed in films including but not limited to The Prophet's Game (2000) (starring Dennis Hopper), Casino (1992) (starring her good friend Sammy Jackson), Dawn of the Crescent Moon (2014) (opposite Barry Corbin), and Going Very Badly (2014) (opposite Gerry Bednob). She recently voiced the Spaceship Computer on Doomsday (2015) and the Deliverance Computer in Starship: Apocalypse (2014).

In 2014, Birdsall was named honorary Maverick Award Winner at the esteemed Action on Film Festival, and in 2015 the honorary Trailblazer Award at the Temecula Independent Film Festival for her contributions to the entertainment industry."


5D) Hi Tracey. Thanks for sharing all my 5D posts on Facebook & Twitter so far - all likes, shares & outright public proclamations of love & adoration for my website are always welcome!

TB) Right back atcha! I appreciate the promotion as well :)

5D) First of all, I would like to say many thanks for taking some time out of your schedule to talk to 5D - it's a genuine thrill.

TB) That’s one of the nicest things a guy has ever said to me ;) Happy to be here.

5D) So the traditional opening question; Tell us a little about Tracey Birdsall the woman and how you  became part of this whole wonderfully insane business.

TB) I thrive on this business. Every cell of my being wants to take on various characters and live them to a degree that I think only I can do. I’ve worked, trained, studied, worked, trained (you get the point) - most of my life. If I’m not booking, I’m training - because there’s a reason. I absolutely adore the whole process.

5D) Quick challenge - can you tell us something you've never divulged in an interview?..... (I'm looking for a world exclusive here!)

TB) As a kid, I was really bullied. I was quite a nerd, and I had this passion for acting and becoming other people - which did not help at all. I was David Cassidy in the Partridge Family on my front lawn in Burbank (enlisting the younger kids of the neighbourhood of course to play along), I was Marcia in The Brady Bunch… Everything I watched I wanted to do and be. I had a lot of fun being me, but I did catch a lot of flack for it!

We then moved to Channel Islands Harbor when I was going into the fourth grade. There I had to go to a school in Oxnard where they bussed a lot of kids in from “over the tracks.” Somehow my “un-coolness” reached a whole new level and I was beaten up after school almost every day - whole gangs of kids. Luckily, my parents got me into private school after a while, but I never stopped wanting the same thing out of life and I was never going to stop being me no matter how uncool it was at that young age.

In many ways, I see that as part of my development as a human, and I see that as part of my perseverance and adoration of people of all walks of life. I’ve travelled and adore studying people - and I refuse to be afraid of anyone or to compare myself - I just study them. I learn from them. I wonder how the various experiences in my life might feed a future role, and I learn from everyone I meet. My challenges in life led me to have so many layers that I just can’t wait to integrate those layers into roles.

5D) Have you ever visited or worked here in Scotland? (The drinks are on me if you do!)

TB) Ahahahaha! That is meant to be a joke, right?! Scotland is my sensitive spot because part of Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter was meant to be filmed in Scotland! I was so excited as we had this amazing location we were going to and I had this amazing coat that was meant for sub-zero temperatures as part of my costuming (which I had to instead wear in almost 100 degree heat).

The skies opened and the rain poured in Southern California for a couple of weeks, and one day the Director said to me “My God it looks like Scotland right here!” I felt my stomach drop when I realised that the direction he was pointing meant the loss of my glorious trip to Scotland!

In a pouting mumble…”No I’ve never had the pleasure of going to Scotland…” (But I’ll take a rain check on that drink!)

5D) I seem to remember reading somewhere that you were a childhood sci-fi geek (join the club) - what were your particular obsessions?

TB) I was a huge Star Trek fan (thanks to my dad who would supply ample amounts of rocky road ice cream to me when the episodes came on - with chocolate sauce), and that led to the whole realm of possibilities: Star Wars, Logan’s Run was one of my favourites, Lost in Space, Planet of the Apes… the list can go on for miles. Basically, I loved the idea of possibilities and imagination all mixed into one.

I had a particular obsession of playing a bald painted character on Star Trek for many years, but that never materialized…

5D) What about horror films, are you a fan & would you see yourself appearing in that genre?

TB) I’ve done a couple of horror films, but never in the classic scream queen way. I’ve only been the smart/resolute character. In some ways that’s awesome, as I see how the scream queens get pigeon-holed in character. You see, I want to play the gamut and I have the most fun with the most difficult and challenging roles. I loved it when I did Rogue Warrior, and Director Neil Johnson said to me at one point after a scene “I don’t think any other actress could do that.” That’s the kind of work I live for. Give me the impossible, give me the arcs, give me something to bring to life that makes someone say “Oh my God.” Rinse and repeat.

5D) So Rogue Warrior has been getting all sorts of plaudits far and wide. How did you first become involved in the project?

TB) The Director wanted me to be a lead in his next film and presented me several scripts to read. One of them, Planet Crash, had a lot of elements that were appealing to me: grit, passion, physicality, and artificial intelligence. He kept re-writing the script over and over until it was something we had to bring to life. The layers and the complexity and the character were something I had never seen in Science Fiction before and I just had to bring it to life (remember the David Cassidy story here) - and I knew it would be the hardest thing I had ever done (and I love challenges.) I knew the commitment just in prep time would take me months and months of full-time work but it had every element of what I needed to do next.

5D) So go on Tracey - tell us why we should see this film!!

TB) Rogue Warrior is a journey - a complicated, exciting, excruciating journey… The relationships are deep and multi-layered, every cast member is skilled and on point, most of the film is practical including the effects where possible (and most of the robots), the arcs and the curves of this film are very much a deep drama delved into a science fiction film - like you’ve never seen before in this genre. Whether you’re male or female (we’ve found out), you will relate with Sienna’s character: you will cheer for her, laugh with her (and at her), cry for her, have angst for her and revel in her. You will see what worlds are like that have been overcome by AI (not that hard to even imagine this day in age) - and you will see that in the end it is another beginning - just not what you expect.

5D) The role of Sienna that you play, apart from obviously being a sexy heroine, is also intelligent, tough and resourceful. Was this important to you not to play the cliched 'screaming blonde’?

TB) Absolutely and always. I’ve never been a screaming blonde. No thank you very much. I very much lead with my talent in everything that I do. What you look like just gets you in the door. A movie like Rogue Warrior (any movie to me actually) can’t be cast on looks. When you watch a movie, you have to be drawn into the character and that’s not a reality with looks. Remember here, you’re talking to a young girl that was a geek… and always will be.

5D) Hey, congratulations on picking up the Best actress award in Malibu West International Film Awards! What was the experience like?

TB) It’s always fantastic to be recognised for your work. It’s icing on the cake for a couple of days. I had just won Female Action Performer of the Year the month prior at Action on Film Festival, so I feel like two of the hardest things I did this year went recognised (within the same project). The best award I’ve had lately though is the feeling I had when the Premiere ended and I saw the reaction on everyone’s faces. When you work as hard at something as I do, that’s the true reward.

5D) A few days ago the exciting news was hearing that SONY has picked up ROGUE WARRIOR; & a franchise is planned together with a proposed to series - will that feature yourself?

TB) Absolutely! It’s a very exciting time in my life that I’ve worked decades for.

5D) So what does the future hold for Tracey Birdsall?

TB) I will work until I die. I will continue to work harder than most people around me and I will continue to pay off. I adore what I do, and I adore the training/character development/punishment. I might take a vacation at some point (it’s been a couple of years since vacation meant something other than gym training or SnapChat for 5 minutes!). I will continue trying to pay-it-forward, and I will continue being the best me that I can be - and hopefully entertaining everyone along the way. :)

I would like to give my sincere thanks once again to Tracey for giving me some of her time - as you can gather, she's a little bit busy at the moment.

You can find out more about Tracey Birdsall and Rogue Warrior at the following links;

Tracey's official Facebook page can be found RIGHT HERE


You can Tweet Tracey via her Twitter handle @traceybirdsall1

This article can also be found via the 5D website There you can find a veritable feast of blog articles, news items, pictures and and other mouth-watering salutations to the gods of the geeks and the nerds. We have now inherited the earth, you know.

There is also a newly launched forum on the website designed for ANYONE involved or interested in the Independent film industry related to genres of Sci-Fi, fantasy and horror. Feel free to register and contribute - Everyone is welcome!

In addition the 5D website now has PayPal Donate button. Any donations kindly made will be fed directly back to help with a podcast materials, competition prizes and other general costs etc. If you wish to contribute to the exciting growth of the website & blog then we here at 5D headquarters would be eternally grateful. If you would like your contribution to be acknowledged publicly then simply send a message via the website’s contact section and we’ll send you some love!

If all that was enough to entice to 5D land, should any of you fine people out there wish to advertise on the 5D website then have a look at the offer below.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

The 5D Podcast arrives soon! - AKA: You can run from 5D but you can't hide.

Some of you know the story, some of you may not - and many more of you quite rightly couldn't care less. However from my own self-centred point of view, it's certainly been an interesting few years here at 5D headquarters.

5D started as a simple little blog back in 2012. It all began as some half-hearted musings on the often maligned genres of science fiction, fantasy and horror, all of which have formed the bedrock of my film & literature obsession. In all truth my starting to write the blog was simply something to pass the time and enable me to force my self-indulgent musings upon the world, whilst all the time trying not to take myself too seriously. 

However, something strange soon began to happen as people began to read my scribblings and soon I was being contacted from individuals around the world. I was astounded to learn that rather than requests of restraining orders, people not only liked my self-depreciating approach but also there were those who even wanted to send me their work to promote & review on my blog. 

This began a love-affair with the incredible range of independent and low budget productions from all around the world, particularly in science fiction and horror. The experience has now morphed into something else entirely, with a rather nifty website (designed by my boy, Zack) full of reviews, interviews and dealing with many creative individuals of both mainstream and independent productions.

Another catastrophic attempt by yours truly
 to look cool and intelligent....
Am I a critic? No, absolutely not...... Will I one day put together articles full of correct spelling, grammar and factual accuracy? Perhaps..... Am I a scribbler who passionately muses on things he loves about Sci-fi, fantasy & horror while making damn sure he keeps a sense of proportion and doesn't take himself too seriously? Oh hell yes.

I know what you're thinking - 'Well this article so far has surpassed even your own legendary level of self-indulgence.....what the hell is your point?!" Well, harsh and to the point - but very fair I may add. Let me enlighten you good people......

The next step in the evolution of 5D in eventually achieving complete world domination (it's only a matter of time) is going to be happening in the next few weeks.... The original plan was to launch a Kickstarter campaign for the tools needed for our next project, however circumstances have meant that the necessary equipment has come my way.

I'm afraid that there will really be little chance of escaping my regular deluded ramblings because my boy and I will be creating a quality podcast for as many things Sci-Fi, fantasy & horror related that we can squeeze into a 30 minute episode. The intention is to create a quality, entertaining and even occasionally informative podcast each week, depending on whether we get taken off the air or find out that there no audience - or perhaps both.

Because we both have often differing views about what we love in the genres we believe that this will contribute to an invigorating discussion between two people who love the subjects which they will be exploring. We don't claim to be experts or critics (I know, I know - that's never stopped me before!) - but what we are is passionate about this stuff! What the podcast will do will be to enable us to share our obsessions with anyone who cares to listen and participate. 

Will we entertain? Possibly. Will we upset some people? Hmm, hopefully!! Will we fill up some time in your day to help you realise that there are two people in the world even more past the point of hope than you? Most definitely!! ...... So you have two guys that will be bringing to you a podcast content that will cover for example, classic Sci-Fi, fantasy & horror, the current independent movie scene, the gaming scene, reviews, interviews and much much more!

The evidence, your honour.....
You may be asking just what makes us think that we can make this a podcast worth listening to?! Well over the last few years 5D has built a reputation and body of work around the world to the extent that the website now averages around 1500 hits per month. This reputation and support also transcends to people 'in the business' as the words of support section below quite clearly shows. In addition these contacts around the globe will hopefully provide us with a plentiful pool of interesting talent to showcase and share podcast time with.

The podcast episodes will be available to view on the 5D website, the upcoming 5D YouTube channel and via iTunes. Also, if there is any way I could deliver each episode straight to your door accompanied with some of my favourite cookies, well I would do that as well!

So for those who don't know, you may well be wondering just who the heck are we and who the hell do we think we are?

Well, the 5D Podcast team are Stuart and Zack.

In my case - well I'm old enough to know better but too stupid to care. A child of the 1970's and a Geek well before it was cool to be one.  My love of Sci-Fi probably stems from a steady childhood TV diet of Star Trek and Doctor Who, an obsession with the classic British comic 2000AD and then the cultural monster that was Star Wars. My obsessions then broadened to more unusual and occasionally obscure sci-fi - for example, I would now regard my favourite ever film as Le Jettee (1962)

Regarding my fantasy obsession, well that's completely the fault of my primary school teacher when I was 9 years old. The Friday afternoon reading book one summer was 'The Hobbit' - my life changed forever.

In terms of horror there are two films that constantly vie for the prize of my favourite ever horror movie. This week it is The Wicker Man - no, not the catastrophe that was the Nicholas Cage remake - but the 1973 masterpiece that contains perhaps the greatest of all sucker punch horrific climaxes. Next week my favourite will be The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) - practically perfect horror.

As for Zack - well he grew up during the transition from smoke/mirror effects to high impact computer generated graphics and his professional career has left him somewhat biased towards the modern techniques. Since he has a wealth of experience in computer effects within visualisation and video games, this has led him to enjoying and appreciating the time and effort that is put into every frame by the unnamed individuals. In other words, he and I disagree on MANY things scifi, fantasy & horror related.

One of my boy's many masterpieces.
For example, whereas I often will explore and enjoy some of the more obscure genre productions, his knowledge of the fantasy genre stops at the end of the third iteration of the Lord of The Rings and quite frankly he's too scared to watch a good horror film on his own in the dark - What. A. Wuss.

In terms of sci-fi, of course he enjoys Star Wars and such, but he also greatly enjoys the mindless action and graphics within films like Independence Day, Live Die Repeat and many of the Sci Fi films that aren’t considered ‘nerdy’.

I do sometimes genuinely wonder if he is my son.........

Within 5D headquarters, he is responsible for the website architecture and making everything look pretty - the 5D website is but one example of his abundant skills........

You may still be wondering whether this is all just all bluster and ego from me (I know, it wouldn't be the first time that I'm guilty of that)  - but don't just take my word for it. Since the revamp of the 5D website I've been genuinely thankful to see a rather fab amount of visitors to the site, nearly 4000 visits in all so far.... and counting. 

Not only that but some very, very nice people have said some even nicer things about 5D as you can see below..... 

Some words of support for 5D

"I'm ALL excited about this site! THE authority on "British productions and the independent minded - It's where I go!!!!" : Peter Shinkoda - actor. (Nobo in the Daredevil TV series).

"This is very cool.": Vincent D'Onofrio - actor. (Kingpin in the Daredevil series, Criminal minds, Jurassic World, Full Metal Jacket).

Some hellish regards from the legendary Bill Oberst Jr.
"I have been a fan of Stuart Anderson and his 5-D Blog for a few years now, and I've enjoyed his intelligent, irreverent and passionate musings on the genres I love best. The thought of hearing Stu and his young lad on the air delights me! I'll be supporting this effort and I ask you, my fellow sci-fi, fantasy and horror fans, to do the same. Stu is the genuine article. I'm proud to be his friend and his fan!": Bill Oberst Jr. - LA based actor & horror icon.

"I absolutely love 5D. The Fifth Dimension Sci-fi/fantasy & horror group! Stuart really knows this genre backwards and forwards! Never a dull moment reading the fascinating material he writes! Love love love it!": Ellen Dubin - Actress. (Lexx, Napoleon Dynamite).

"A great resource for in-depth reviews and informative interviews": John Portonova - writer, producer, director.

Hopefully, some of the people above, as well as others who succumb to my begging and whining will appear as guest on the podcasts. So, over the next couple of weeks I will be incessantly bang on gently remind you now and again about the soon to be arriving 5D Podcast. 

This article can also be found via the 5D website There you can find a veritable feast of blog articles, news items, pictures and and other mouth-watering salutations to the gods of the geeks and the nerds. We have now inherited the earth, you know.

There is also a newly launched forum on the website designed for ANYONE involved or interested in the Independent film industry related to genres of Sci-Fi, fantasy and horror. Feel free to register and contribute - Everyone is welcome!

In addition the 5D website now has PayPal Donate button. Any donations kindly made will be fed directly back to help with a podcast materials, competition prizes and other general costs etc. If you wish to contribute to the exciting growth of the website & blog then we here at 5D headquarters would be eternally grateful. If you would like your contribution to be acknowledged publicly then simply send a message via the website’s contact section and we’ll send you some love!

If all that was enough to entice to 5D land, should any of you fine people out there wish to advertise on the 5D website then have a look at the offer above.

Saturday, 8 October 2016


When the inevitable Zombie apocalypse finally arrives and I spend my days being the brave and heroic leader of the few surviving humans, there will be a few things that I will undoubtedly need to ensure I keep some semblance of sanity. Of course, I am already planning for such a doomsday event by carefully selecting some of the essential post-apocalyptic items for my personal survival. No, I’m talking about piffling things like food, water or weapons, after all I anticipate having a number of trusty minions to cater for such needs. I am in fact talking about some of those essential luxuries that will help fend off those pesky Zombie-fighting blues.

At the top of my ‘survival essentials’ is a collection of my 10 top all-time films to while away the hours in between Zombie slaying and being the saviour of the human race. Yes, yes, yes, I know this comes with a couple of minor sticking points; namely having the power to keep my DVD player running and the fact that my top ten movie list order changes on a weekly basis. However there are few that will probably never leave the list; The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), The Wicker Man (1973) and the little beauty which is the subject of this very article – Assault on Precinct 13 (1976).

So when I heard that the film was being celebrated with a 40
th anniversary newly restored edition release from Second Sight Films I was doubly excited. Firstly, that it would provide another opportunity for me self-indulgently pontificating on near-cinematic perfection, but also (and perhaps far more importantly) because it would get me one step closer to making sure I’ll have what I need when the world goes to apocalypse hell and a hand basket.

Assault on Precinct 13 shares a commonality with the other two films mentioned previously here – apart from the fact that they are ground breaking examples of classic horror, they each suffer from having god-awful remakes made of them. This really isn’t the place for me to go off on one of my legendary rants about the lack of imagination and originality of some filmmakers. However I will say that my advice, for what it’s worth, would be to avoid these particular remakes at all costs - ESPECIALLY the Assault one.......give me strength.

The main man himself
Assault on Precinct 13 is a film that didn't do particularly well commercially, or with the critics, on its original release and in fact only slowly over the years began to gain legendary status, which is something of a running theme for legendary director, John Carpenter. Made for around $100,000 it was just his second feature film and by his own admission was a case of him learning how to make a movie. In fact he has gone on record as saying that he would change much of the original film today.........please don't, John. Just don't.

The plot of the movie is is loosely based on the Howard Hawkes classic western, Rio Bravo and repeats the narrative of good old law enforcement guys surrounded by a horde of murderous bad guys. It all takes place over just a few hours (A classic Carpenter modus operandi) and has noticeable periods where little is happening or even said. It is what Carpenter does with the material, the creation of near unbearable atmosphere and tension as the film progresses into some great action sequences and a simply stunning example of ensemble acting that makes this a movie classic.

The story begins with 3 separate story strands on a Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles that will eventually come together to form the tension filled second half of the movie. The first part features Lieutenant Ethan Bishop, played by the always excellent Austin Stoker, who has just undertaken a new assignment after receiving his promotion. He has been given the seemingly innocuous task of commanding the soon to be decommissioned Anderson police precinct. The station is manned by a skeleton staff composed of another officer and two civilian secretaries.

The magnificent Burton, Stoker and Joston
Meanwhile, a Los Angeles street gang called 'Street Thunder', who recently have had six of their members slain by the local police after recently acquiring a huge cache of automatic weapons. Vowing revenge they decide to drive around the streets looking for people to kill. Quite clearly, these are not nice people…..One of the gang shoots and kills a little girl and the driver of an ice-cream truck which is perhaps the most shocking and intense scene in the whole film. The 'Ice cream cone scene' has rightly gone down in many movie top 10 most shocking lists. The girl's father, in a helpless rage pursues the gang in turn shoots the gang member, whose fellow gang members chase the man into the Anderson precinct. The staff try to ascertain his problem, but by now he is in a catatonic state of shock, he is unable to explain to anybody what has happened to him.

The 3rd strand meanwhile sees a prison bus stopping at the Police station in order to get medical assistance for one of the three prisoners being transported to Death Row at the state prison. What then follows for the remainder of the movie is a classic siege scenario as what seems like hundreds of gang members have surrounded the station, cut off the power and now intend to kill everyone inside, forcing the few police and convicts to work together in order to live.

Laurie Zimmer - how I loved thee.
The true genius quality about this film is Carpenters ability to turn what, is on the face of it, a standard urban cop thriller and give it the essential spirit of a classic horror movie. Carpenter himself has often said that the film more resembles Night of the living Dead as much as any other cinematic inspiration. This success is in no small part to the incredible ensemble cast of character actors; Austin Stoker is his usual solid reliable self as the officer who slowly reconciles the fact that a police station in the middle of Los Angeles is under siege. Tony Burton and Laurie Zimmer (in her first major role) are equally excellent. 

For me though the heartbeat of the film has always been the magnificent Darwin Joston, as the charismatic prisoner Napoleon Wilson, who is responsible for driving the narrative onwards. The character of Napoleon could very easily have been a one-dimensional cardboard cut out bad guy, but Joston's performance combining elements of brutality, sardonic humour, loyalty and distinct traces of humanity raises the character to a sympathetic anti-hero status that is still powerful on repeat viewing. It remains a genuine mystery to me to this day why Darwin Joston was so vast underrated in the industry and never became a bigger star than he was before his death from Leukemia in 1998.

Oh, and one more thing - the soundtrack........Oh my lordy.

An often overlooked contribution to his movies is the music that Carpenter (the vast majority of which he wrote himself) provides for each production. Forced to write his own synthesiser music due to budgetary constraints on Assault on Precinct 13, Carpenter quickly realised the importance that a music soundtrack can provide. He's never content to let musical score simply accompany a film to fill the odd silence and occasionally add something to the overall effect. Instead the music often acts as a principle character in the story. 

The likes of Assault on Precinct 13 ( the music written in a staggering three day period) are a showcase in how the atmosphere and excitement can be manipulated to a staggering degree. There is absolutely no argument Assault, Halloween (where perhaps he created arguably his most iconic piece of movie soundtrack) and Escape from New York would be far the poorer if Carpenter hadn't taken real care and passion to intimately wed the music to the narrative. 

Austin getting a restoration.....
To celebrate the 40th Anniversary of this seminal film, Second Sight is delighted to announce the release of a newly restored high definition version from a 1080p transfer. It will be will be presented in a stunning limited edition Blu-ray box set, packed full of brand new special features including an early John Carpenter student short, as well as the original soundtrack CD and art cards, and is set for release on 28 November 2016, alongside a DVD version and On-Demand on the same date. It will be available on Download-to-Own from 21 November 2016. 

I will admit that it's been a year or so since I've watched the film - I like to indulge my favourites sparingly when it comes to my movie obsessions. So watching the restored version of Assault on precinct 13 was a genuine joy, in fact so much so it was almost like watching the film for the first time all over again. The look of the film now, whilst obviously retaining its 1970's feel, simply looks incredibly crisp and fresh whilst the sound quality is of such clarity that it elevates the legendary soundtrack into the stratosphere - an incredible listening experience.

The extras too are enough to satisfy any lover of this film - the audio commentaries, especially the one from Carpenter himself, are a level above some of the more mundane ones that often accompany releases. Carpenter's one in particular is full of interesting and insightful titbits of information about the filming process and it's fascinating to hear him recount both the stories of the making of the film and just how much he would change things (especially the pacing) if he was creating it today.

Perhaps the most exciting special features inclusion is the Blu-ray exclusive of Captain Voyeur, an early student film from John Carpenter and something that I had never seen before. Thanks to the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts and archivist Dino Everett we now have access to the work.

On discovering the film Everett said, 'At first it seemed like Captain Voyeur was going to be a class exercise with no title cards to identify it as Carpenter’s work but, eventually, a hand written title card came up."

“About a third of the way though the film, there was this hand written, ‘Written and Directed by John Carpenter. You couldn’t ask for a better representation of a first student film. Captain Voyeur has many of the themes as Carpenter’s later work including masked faces, obsession and even comedic set pieces."

“In my head I hoped it would be a magical tie to Halloween,” said Everett. “He’s not a killer but he’s a voyeur. In a sense, it shows what Michael Myers was in the beginning of Halloween. The two films make a natural line.” Voyeur has many of the themes as Carpenter’s later work including masked faces, obsession and even comedic set pieces."

I have to complete agree with Mr Everett -  watching Captain Voyeur is an incredible experience and being able to witness for the first time work from one's favourite director of all time was an genuinely exhilarating experience.

Unfortunately the Limited Edition box set inclusions of art cards and the CD soundtrack weren't included as part of the review material - but I'm hoping Santa (or Second Sight Films) will look kindly on me and reward me for being such a good little boy.........

Special features:

DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Uncompressed PCM original mono audio options 

Return to Precinct 13: A new Interview with Austin Stoker 

Still looking good, Austin!
Producing Precinct 13: A new interview with Joseph Kaufman 

Filmmaking with John: A new interview with Tommy Lee Wallace 

Interview with John Carpenter and Austin Stoker 

The Sassy One with Nancy Loomis 

Audio Commentary with John Carpenter 

Audio Commentary with Tommy Lee Wallace 

‘Captain Voyeur’: John Carpenter student short (Blu-ray exclusive)

Do You Remember Laurie Zimmer documentary film (Blu-ray exclusive) 

5 Art Cards (Limited Edition box set exclusive) 

Bonus CD soundtrack disc (Limited Edition box set exclusive) 


Radio Spots 

Dolby Digital 5.1 and original mono audio options

Title: Assault On Precinct 13: 40th Anniversary Limited Edition Blu-­ray Box Set

Release Date: 28 November 2016                                     Cat.No.: 2NDBR4057

RRP: £24.99                                                                         Cert: 15

Original Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1, Video: 1080p                     Audio: DTS-­HD MA Surround / LPCM Original Mono

Main Feature Running Time: 91 mins approx.                  Subtitles: English SDH

Barcode: 5028836040576

English subtitles for the hard of hearing

Title: Assault On Precinct 13: 40th Anniversary DVD

Release Date: 28 November 2016                                        Cat.No.: 2NDVD3304

RRP: £15.99                                                                            Cert: 15

Original Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1, Video: 1080p                        Audio: Dolby Digital Surround 5.1 and original mono audio options

Main Feature Running Time: 88 mins approx.                      Subtitles: English SDH

Barcode: 502883603304

English subtitles for the hard of hearing

Available Download-­to-­Own from 21 November 2016 and On-­Demand from 28 November

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