Full disclosure: I am an indie filmmaker myself, so any documentary about a maverick in the field such as Larry Cohen, is sure to bring me joy. I will try to get out of my own head with this review to be objective.
King Cohen is a feature documentary which focuses on the prolific filmography of indie filmmaker Larry Cohen. It is mostly about the filmmaking and not the man himself, and given all the interesting stories this movie told, it is clear why the film’s director, Steve Mitchell, went that route.
You may be asking who is Larry Cohen? He is one of the filmmakers and writers who’s work you must have seen at some point but did not realize it.
King Cohen makes this case clear by covering his TV work such as NYPD Blue, Branded and movie credits like Phone Booth, It’s Alive, The Stuff and who could forget the William Lustig film Maniac Cop. (Any of those ring a bell?). If not, I only named a few of the titles this comprehensive documentary explored.
Many legends of the film world were interviewed for this documentary, beside Larry Cohen, the movie features J.J. Abrams, Joe Dante, John Landis and Martin Scorsese.
Many of the people he worked with also weighed in. One of the many fun moments was when the documentary shows actor/director Fred Williamson telling his side of a story hot from a set, then cuts to Larry Cohen giving a totally different account of the events.
Besides that interesting give and take, the edit of King Cohen showcases many memorable clips from Cohen’s work, which provides the perfect backdrop to the narrative and reminds us of a bygone era of filmmaking.
Movie monsters made by hand, stealing shots at an airport baggage claim and challenging cultural norms are all part of Larry Cohen’s journey. In the case of his 1972 directorial debut, Bone, Larry is thought to be the father of the Blacksploitation genre.