James Cole Clay // Film Critic
Few filmmakers have more fun on-set than director Larry Cohen (IT’S ALIVE trilogy), mainly because he can create a set anytime, anywhere. Larry Cohen is the definition of guerrilla filmmaking but on more rambunctious scale filming car chases and frantic action scenes without permits. The documentary KING COHEN celebrates his career with talking head interviews, clips and photos from the royal subjects he worked with and inspired including JJ Abrams, Fred Williamson, Martin Scorsese, and even Tara Reid. While the filmmaking is wildly conventional, Cohen’s story is incredible and filled with nothing but a love for life and making films.
At first glance, you may not be familiar with Cohen’s workand if you could indulge this writer for a minute I can tell you about how “King Cohen” came into my consciousness. I was attending Fantastic Fest in 2017,—a genre film festival in Austin, Texas— Cohen was in town to attend a retro screening of MANIAC COP 2, which is an absolutely insane movie starring Robert Z’Dar. The film ended around 11 pm, which is prime time for drinks at an Alamo Drafthouse and Cohen proceeded to give the best Q&A I’ve ever seen for a crowd of maybe 80 people. I ended up covering the screening and realized Larry Cohen’s work has been in the background of my little film loving brain for the majority of my life, I just didn’t know it.
The documentary directed by Steve Mitchell comes from a place of absolute love for this filmmaker who paved the way for many artists who came after and he inspired a generation of filmmakers to produce greatness on the fly. His style is like jazz, but for high-concept filmmaking. Over the course of the doc, Mitchell recounts Cohen’s filmography which has some highlights including the IT’S ALIVE TRILOGY (you can read our coverage here), THE STUFF, BLACK CAESAR and even PHONE-BOOTH starring Colin Farrell.
Cohen’s footprint is all over the film industry today and his vigilante approach to the art form would never fly by today’s standards, but damn if KING COHEN isn’t an inspiring film.
FINAL GRADE: B
Bonus Features Include:
- A Soundtrack is included with the original score by Joe Kroemer
- An Audience with The King: Which is 45 minutes of additional interview footage of Cohen telling stories
- More Stories From The King’s Court: Raw interview footage from Eric Roberts, Traci Lords, Eric Bogosian, Tara Reid, Fred Williamson and Michael Moriarty and many more.
- Hello World: A collection of Larry Cohen’s film festival greetings.
- Theatrical Trailer
KING COHEN is now available on Blu Ray, iTunes, and other digital platforms.