Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

Assault on Precinct 13 theatrical poster

 “Got a smoke?”

I’m embarrassed to admit this but for various bizarre reasons I avoided this film for years even though I’m a fan of John Carpenter‘s early films. Somehow I’d gotten it into my head that Assault on Precinct 13 was a stark prison movie and that premise never really appealed to me. I was also under the impression the movie was in black and white! I’ve no idea where any of those misconceptions came from but they unfortunately resulted in me ignoring the film for decades despite being a fan of The Fog, Escape from New York and the incomparable The Thing. So you can imagine my surprise (and delight) when, in the late ’90s, I stumbled across a late night showing of the film on BBC2 and discovered it wasn’t a grim prison drama but in fact a fast-paced, action-packed exploitation homage to both Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo and George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. Continue reading Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

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In The Line of Fire (1993)

Clink Eastwood as Frank Horrigan
Clink Eastwood as Frank Horrigan

“I know things about pigeons, Lilly”

I always tend to group this film together with Unforgiven, not just because they were released at roughly the same time (Unforgiven came out a few months earlier) and not just because both films helped revive Clint Eastwood’s flagging career (anyone remember Pink Cadillac or The Rookie?). I think it’s because both films share a common theme: a character with a haunted past shaped by violence is given a chance for redemption. Unforgiven is concerned with a dealer of violence while In The Line of Fire deals with the victim of a violent event. Frank Horrigan (Eastwood) is a US Secret Service agent haunted by the assassination of President Kennedy, an event he failed to stop. He blames himself for the death of the man he’d sworn to protect and believes the break up of his marriage, and his subsequent alcoholism, to be a direct result of him ‘not taking the bullet’. Continue reading In The Line of Fire (1993)

The Art of Brian Bolland

The Art of Brian Bolland

After graduating from London’s Central School of Art in 1974, Lincolnshire born artist Brian Bolland quickly gravitated towards the comics industry. A firm fan from an early age Bolland grew up on a steady diet of DC stories, with Green Lantern and The Flash being favourites. He spent a couple of years working on such diverse assignments as Powerman (an Nigerian published superhero comic) and House of Hammer magazine as well as illustrations for various fanzines and a short stint on Syd Jorden’s Jeff Hawke daily newspaper strip. In 1977 he came to the attention of UK publisher IPC who were on the lookout for artists for their proposed new weekly science fiction comic 2000AD. His first work for the title was the cover to Prog (issue) 11 and, after a few more covers, he was commissioned to draw the comics most popular character: Judge Dredd.

Continue reading The Art of Brian Bolland

Rio Bravo (1959)

Theatrical poster for Rio Bravo (1959)
Theatrical poster for Rio Bravo (1959)

“It’d be pretty close. I’d hate to have to
live on the difference.”

Hollywood legend has it that director Howard Hawks and star John Wayne were so offended by the premise of Fred Zinnemann’s High Noon (small town sheriff begs the local townsfolk to help him fight off a band of outlaws) that they made Rio Bravo (small town sheriff refuses to ask the local townsfolk to help him fight off a band of outlaws) as their own take on the bravery and stoicism of the western lawman. That all sounds a little too much like Hollywood PR to me though.  Continue reading Rio Bravo (1959)

Corpse on the Imjin!

Corpse on the Imjin!Seattle based publisher Fantagraphics are currently reprinting EC’s hugely influential line of comics from the 1950’s. This is their first release…

Corpse on the Imjin! And other stories by Harvey Kurtzman

When I first heard that Fantagraphics had acquired the rights to the EC Comics archive I was initially a little wary. Over the last few decades there have been several attempts to reprint the EC library in various different formats culminating with Gemstone Publishings short lived plan to reprint all the comics in their entirety, with each hardback volume containing 6 entire issues. This reprint series, which would have included all the classic EC titles – including Tales from the Crypt, Vault of Horror and Weird Science amongst others – stalled after only a dozen or so releases. Continue reading Corpse on the Imjin!