“Many of the A-movies are long forgotten. They’re boring, slow, and tedious. The B-movies are fast-moving, exciting, and energetic.” – Larry Cohen
If you were a fan of horror movies from the 80’s Larry Cohen was one of the flag bearing directors for original genre fare. Cohen passed away at home earlier this week, and the horror directing community lost one of the most influential filmmakers of the era. Some of the cult classics he directed were It’s Alive! (and its two sequels), God Told Me To, The Stuff, and my personal favorite Q The Winged Serpent.
Cohen was a real character. A brash New Yorker, who was a huge proponent of the independent B-movie. He started his directing career with blaxploitation films Bone (With Yaphet Kotto), Black Caesar (with Fred Williamson), and Hell up in Harlem (Williamson again). These films proved to be much better than their exploitation film peers, and he branched out into horror, and continued in this genre along with several thrillers up through the early 90’s.
Though his movies tended to capitalize on the cheap and sleazy style of Grindhouse, his films were always filled with a bit more nuance and wit than your standard fare for the time. He was also a risk-taking director and writer. Martin Scorcese applauded Cohen’s wild Maverick sense in the tradition of a hand made picture. Fred Williamson calls Cohen the best guerilla filmmaker in the business. He would push the boundaries of what you could show in your movies, and how you would execute the film production. It was old-school rebel film making at its craziest.
If you want to get a good sense of what he was like, there is a documentary that came out last year, entitledKing Cohen, ensuring that his legacy will live on in documentary form. You can check out the trailer for King Coehn here:
Rest in peace, Larry. The genre community owes a debt of gratitude to you for elevating the spirit of Grindhouse. Thank you for giving us flesh-eating babies!