Two weeks in a row now, the world has lost another talented person from the movie industry. And it’s really starting to suck.
Larry Cohen passed away yesterday at the age of 77. He was a writer, director, producer who made movies his way. It didn’t mean he wasn’t successful. Just the opposite since a lot of his films, whether they were ones he directed or just wrote, did well at the box office. But Cohen was one of the kings of B-Movies, and that is meant as a huge compliment to this very talented craftsmen. Or as writer/director Edgar Wright called him, “an independent freewheeling movie legend.”
The recent documentary King Cohen: The Wild World of Filmmaker Larry Cohen (2017) is a perfect example of not only his work, but of Cohen himself. When you have someone as talented as he was, but wanting to work on the outside of Hollywood, you have to give the man credit. “You’ve gotta make the picture your way and no other way, because it can’t be made otherwise.” Because of statements like that, he was a hero to independent filmmakers.
He started writing for mainly episodic television shows before he moved into the film world. In 1972, he wrote, produced, and directed his first feature film, Bone, starring Yaphet Kotto. He then made two blaxploitation movies in 1973, Black Caesar and Hell Up in Harlem, both starring Fred Williamson. He then moved into the horror genre with the widely successful It’s Alive (1974), which would then spawn two sequels.
Even though we have lost this incredible talent, his movies and attitude will always be there for the next generation of filmmakers to watch and realize that you don’t have to go to Hollywood to make the film you want to.
Our thoughts go out to his friends and family during this difficult time.