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Podcast Episode 130: Larry Cohen, King Of The B Movies

Iconoclastic filmmaker and cult favorite is subject of new documentary ‘King Cohen’

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Steve Mitchell

Maverick filmmaker Larry Cohen is the subject of the new documentary "King Cohen."

Episode 130: Larry Cohen, King of the B Movies

Larry Cohen is a genius because he managed to have the best of both worlds in the entertainment industry. Not many can claim to have enjoyed both a traditionally successful career within the mainstream Hollywood system as well as cult status outside the studio system making audaciously independent films exactly the way he wanted to. Now he is the subject of Steve Mitchell's documentary "King Cohen." I speak with Cohen about his career and Mitchell about the new doc.

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Transcript

Larry Cohen is a genius because he managed to have the best of both worlds in the entertainment industry. Not many can claim to have enjoyed both a traditionally successful career within the mainstream Hollywood system as well as cult status outside the studio system making audaciously independent films exactly the way he wanted to.

Just the titles of Larry Cohen's films speak volumes about his iconoclastic style: "Scream Baby Scream," "Black Caesar," "It's Alive," "God Told Me To," "Q the Winged Serpent," "Maniac Cop" and "The Stuff."

Cohen built a successful career as a writer and director in television starting back in 1958 with a couple of scripts for Kraft Television Theater. But the structure of series television and Hollywood studios was far too constraining for the maverick Cohen.

So in 1972 he made his writing and directing debut with "Bone" (starring Yaphet Kotto and Jeanne Berlin) and set off on a parallel career as an independent filmmaker.

Cohen's films have won him a devout cult following. Among his fans is Steve Mitchell whose admiration for the director led him to make the documentary "King Cohen: The Wild World of Filmmaker Larry Cohen." Mitchell wanted to pay homage to Cohen, whom he felt was not widely enough appreciated in the mainstream.

The thing about Cohen's films is that while most of them start off as seemingly conventional genre films, many looking like standard police procedurals, almost all of them take wild left turns that simply make your jaw drop in awe.

For this podcast i speak with the master himself Larry Cohen as well as documentary filmmaker Steve Mitchell. So fasten your seatbelts for a careening ride through the career of King Cohen.

"King Cohen" screens Nov. 13 at DOC NY and Film Geeks SD (the volunteer film programming group I belong to) is planning to bring the documentary as well as some of Cohen's films to San Diego early next year. But for now, enjoy this podcast celebrating the unique genius of Larry Cohen.

Trailer: 'King Cohen'

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