King Cohen The Wild World of Filmmaker Larry Cohen
Written and Directed by Steve Mitchell
Featuring Larry Cohen, Martin Scorsese, J.J Abrams, Joe Dante, Mick Garris, John Landis, Fred Williamson
Dark Star Pictures
Release date: August 3, 2018 (NYC premiere)
Who is Larry Cohen? If you don’t recognize his name, I promise you’ll recognize his films. The now 77-year old has been working in the industry since the late 1950s and evolved from writing noir and western television to become a prolific genre filmmaker. His most prominent works include Black Caesar (1973), It’s Alive (1974), God Told Me To (1976), Q (1982), The Stuff (1985), and Phone Booth (2002). In all he has over 80 writing credits and 20+ directorial efforts. But more than his films was his renegade and rogue filmmaking style. A writer who became a director and producer, Larry Cohen was the consummate hustler and true triple threat. His life and career are now the subject of a phenomenal documentary, King Cohen: The Wild World of Filmmaker Larry Cohen, written and directed by Steve Mitchell and put out by Dark Star Pictures.
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I was born a poor white child in the waning winter days of 1979. Never was I able to step foot inside a grindhouse theater, and the only time I ever went to a drive-in theater that wasn’t doubling as a flea market was to see Fletch when I was barely old enough to remember going in the first place. VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, and spending a lot of time at the houses of friends and relatives with access to pay cable movie channels helped fill me in on the deranged cinematic greatness I was too young to catch first run in its proper theatrical venue. Being born in the wrong place at the seriously wrong time was no excuse for me to not become a fervent admirer of the finest exploitation movies ever made.
B-movies, C-movies, Z-movies, I’ve seen a lot. If I lived a few extra lifetimes after my first ran out I could never be able to see all of the movies I ever wanted to see. My DVD and Blu-ray collection isn’t massive (getting there though) and yet there are still a few titles I have yet to sit down and watch. Sue me, I stay pretty busy most of the time. Once upon a time there were theaters from the largest metropolises to the smallest one-horse burgs that specialized in playing the kinds of offbeat, occasionally undefinable, made-for-a-quick-buck flicks that were too gonzo to show its grimy celluloid visage in mainstream cinemas that primarily attracted bored suburbanites and their spoiled, hateful children. You could see a lot of these schlocky gems in double or triple feature bills or “dusk ’till dawn” marathons that cost substantially less for a ticket than a IMAX 3D screening, even with inflation taken into account. You definitely got your money’s worth, that could not be denied.