Just as Dark Star undercut the solemnity of space movies like 2001 with hilarious astronaut situation comedy, Carpenter's second feature borrows the conventions of protagonists in jeopardy from Night of the Living Dead to produce one of the most effective exploitation movies of the decade. The gimmick is cops and cons besieged in an abandoned LA police station by a group of kamikaze urban guerillas. Carpenter scrupulously avoids any overt socio-political pretensions, playing it instead for laughs and suspense in perfectly balanced proportions. The result is a thriller inspired by a buff's admiration for Ford and Hawks (particularly Rio Bravo), with action sequences comparable to anything in Siegel or Fuller. It's sheer delight from beginning to end.