King Cohen (2017)

If you need any proof just how much Larry Cohen means to this site, you need only turn to the entire week of his films that we featured last year. I’ve had so many questions for this directorial force about how he got into films, how he ended up directing so many films that meant so much over so many years and where his ideas come from. Luckily, this documentary and its bonus features answer all of them and then some.

Not only does this movie feature Larry Cohen breaking down his career year-by-year, from breaking into television to his blacksploitation and exploitation film career. And not only do you get to hear from Cohen himself, there are also appearances by everyone from J.J. Abrams, Yaphet Kotto and John Landis to Michael Moriarty, Joe Dante,  Mick Garris, Fred Williamson and more.

So many of the reviews of this film talk about how it legitimatizes Cohen’s work, elevating it from the world of exploitation to films with merit. All films are exploitation, all seeking to make money. Cohen’s films succeed because even they’re deeply personal pieces of moviemaking. Even a trifle like Wicked Stepmother exists because Cohen saw the chance to give work to a legend like Bette Davis. And Yaphet Kotto relates that while films like Black Caesar and Hell Up in Harlem are blacksploitation, they also smashed down the doors so that black actors and actresses could get work. And one need look no further than The Stuff or God Told Me To for proof of Cohen’s genius. Not many other directors could transform tales of alien yogurt and ancient astronauts into moral tales that have kept their power for decades.

The blu ray release also includes nearly an hour of Cohen’s stories about his films, more than half an hour of other remembrances by friends and co-workers, a look at the monsters of Cohen’s movies and footage of a convention appearance. I loved the extra Cohen stories, as he’s as unguarded as it gets, unafraid to both bury and praise people as he rambles on about his career.

Do you love movies? Then you owe it to yourself to find this and watch it. It’ll inspire you to look up much of Cohen’s catalog and watch it for yourself.

I’d recommend buying it directly from La-La Land Records, as you’ll get a slipcase autographed by Larry Cohen, Director Steve Mitchell and composer Joe Kraemer, as well as a soundtrack!

Past Larry Cohen films covered by B & S About Movies:

 

 

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