Conversations with GoD: Larry Cohen

Larry Cohen is the creator of the cult TV series The Invaders, and has also been the writer/director of numerous film projects. His work includes It’s Alive (and it’s two sequels: It Lives Again and It’s Alive III: Island Of The Alive), God Told Me To (the first film to feature legendary comedian Andy Kaufman), and Q (also known as “The Winged Serpent”). He also wrote the script for the 2003 Joel Schmacher film Phone Booth.

With release of The Invaders first season on DVD (see the review, Mr. Cohen spoke with GoD about the The Invaders, his relationship with maverick director Samuel Fuller, working with Andy Kaufman, and some of his other projects.

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DVD Review: The Invaders

The Invaders
The First Season – Five Disc Set
Starring Roy Thinnes
Paramount Home Video
Release Date: May 27, 2008

The X-Files was not the first TV series to regularly feature paranoia, conspiracy, and creepy aliens.

In 1967, TV writer Larry Cohen and producer Quinn Martin gave us The Invaders. Now available in a hefty five-disc, 17-episode DVD set, The Invaders featured the struggle of architect David Vincent to convince everyone that an alien invasion had began, the aliens had taken human form, and they didn’t exactly want to sing Neil Young songs by the river and share planet Earth with us — they wanted us exterminated.

In the first episode, “Beachhead,” we learn the basic premise that would carry the show for its year-and-a-half run. The often sullen David Vincent (played wonderfully by Roy Thinnes) gets lost looking for a shortcut. While approaching a diner for much needed caffeine, he spots an alien spaceship landing.

In a short time, Vincent discovers that the aliens have landed, they look like us, they’ve infiltrated our society, and they can be identified in human form because their pinky fingers don’t bend. However, the aliens vaporize when they die, leaving no alien corpses behind for autopsy. The aliens’ big flaw is having to occasionally “regenerate” or they will lose their human form.

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DVD Review: ‘The Incredible Hulk’ S3 & S4

The Incredible Hulk
The Complete Third Season
The Complete Fourth Season
Starring Bill Bixby, Lou Ferrigno, Jack Colvin
Universal Home Entertainment
Release Date: June 3, 2008

It’s Not Easy Being Green:
Two Seasons Of The Incredible Hulk TV Series

Between the time The Hulk was a popular comic book character and a less-than popular movie, The Hulk was a wonderfully entertaining television series.

Seasons three and four of The Incredible Hulk TV series are currently available on DVD. The third season DVD even features a brief preview of the new Incredible Hulk movie — or as many Hulk fans like to call the new film, “Hulk II — The Apology.” In the brief movie preview, Incredible Hulk film star Edward Norton and the film’s producers mention the basic premise of the TV series — a scientist on the run, trying to find a cure for becoming a big green monster — will be an important theme of the new movie. In fact, most of movie preview features Edward Norton’s character on the run from the military.

In The Incredible Hulk television series, the scientist, called David Banner (he’s Bruce Banner in the comics and in the new movie) was not on the run from the military, but from an investigative reporter working for a national tabloid.

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DVD Review: Doctor Who ‘Timelash’

Doctor Who – Timelash
Starring Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant
BBC Video
Release Date: April 1, 2008

The Fabulous Baker Boy
Colin Baker is the Sixth Doctor in “Timelash”

There were two actors named Baker who have played the role of Doctor Who.

There is Tom Baker, who was incredibly popular in the role, played the Doctor for seven seasons (longer than any other Doctor so far) and was the FIRST Doctor most people in the mid-west saw, because his episodes were the first broadcast on many area PBS television stations during the mid-1980’s.

Then there was Colin Baker, who only played the Doctor three seasons, took the role when the series teetered on the brink of cancellation, and is one of the least familiar Doctors in my part of the USA.

One of the more interesting episodes from the Colin Baker period, “Timelash,” is now available on DVD from BBC Video. This episode finds the Doctor battling a ruthless alien, a crisis in the time/space continuum, and a script with more holes than 500 gopher colonies.

It’s not that Baker doesn’t gamely make the best of the material he has to work with, or that he doesn’t bring his own panache to the role, but there was apparently much in-fighting with the production company during this episode (which is all covered in a documentary featurette included in the DVD called “The Good, The Bad And The Ugly”) and the script, which was supposed to feature the Daleks, was rewritten to make the villain a humanoid/animal dictator in a mechanized wheelchair.

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DVD Review: ‘The Invisible Man’ Season One

The Invisible Man
Season One
Starring Vincent Ventresca, Paul Ben-Victor, Shannon Kenny
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Release date: March 25, 2008

Pop culture has taught us all an important lesson — that invisibility is a curse unless you’re a really hot woman.

Think of all the characters who become invisible. The only one who actually enjoys it seems to be Sue Richards of the Fantastic Four. She has used her ability to spy and attack undetected, and to fight criminals, aliens, monsters, and that sociopath with a metal mask and diplomatic immunity.

But if you’re a guy, being invisible doesn’t work out very well.

In the H.G. Wells novel The Invisible Man, the invisible man in the title, a scientist named Griffin, is reduced to poverty and insanity when he can’t figure out a way to become visible again. Invisibility also drove Kevin Bacon insane in the movie Hallow Man (2000). In the Chevy Chase movie Memoirs Of An Invisible Man (1992), the invisible man is nearly killed by intelligence agents when he refuses to be recruited as a spy and he has to fake his own death to escape.

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