Four cops raid a gangster’s hideout to avenge the death of their friend. Quickly outgunned, they are forced to work with their enemies when a horde of zombies attacks the complex.
While “Assault on Precinct 13” was viewed as a cross between “Rio Bravo” and “Night of the Living Dead” when it came out, this film is all Romero. The good guys and bad guys are forced together against a horde of zombies which is overrunning the town (if not the world). Forced together by a common foe, the two groups are forced to tear themselves away from each other’s throats in order to battle their way down through the condemned apartment building that the local gangster had turned into his fortress.
This movie is very stripped down. There are some awkward bits of dialog shoved in for the sake of making some clumsy attempts at character development, and some poor attempts at comic relief along the way to break the tension, but this is the story of largely faceless characters fighting their way through an equally faceless horde of cannibals. There isn’t even a passing attempt made at explaining where the zombies came from and that’s a refreshing change. One fateful night, man’s inhumanity to man is proudly on display and then: zombies.
The simplicity works well. This movie has no illusions about what it is. The action is intense, there are some legitimately tense moments and in another deviation from the usual zombie flick fare, we get to see people taking out zombies hand-to-hand, which could easily get silly but winds up giving the film an added raw grittiness. The zombies themselves are well-conceived. There’s little gore here, except in the very beginning: when it works to both shock and add gravity to just what the heroes (and villains) are up against. Once things get moving, the horde of undead is less an army of cannibals and more of an unstoppable force, moving like the waves crashing against the shore. Relentless and unending, the zombies just keep coming.
Simple without being stupid, this is a zombie movie that “gets it”. It’s no masterpiece but for the thinking zombie crowd, as opposed to the gorehound fans, it’s definitely worth seeing.