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WRITTEN REVIEW: King Cohen: The Wild World of Filmmaker Larry Cohen

There is an old bit of advice for anyone who is struggling to be successful doing something they love, whether it be with music, writing, or film making. That advice is simple; “Just do it”. Do what you're passionate about. Do it, and do it again. Do it so much that you get tired of doing it, and then do it some more. This is how you hone your craft. This is how you get that well deserved attention. And this is how you find your voice.

So what if you don't have the money, or the permission to film. “Just do it”! You're passionate about it, aren't you? You are in love with the project, right? So “Just do it”! Take control and make it happen. No one else is going to do it for you.

This “Just do it” philosophy seems to be the mantra of writer-director-producer-legend Larry Cohen, and THIS is the story that documentary King Cohen tells.

Larry Cohen's films are some of the most interesting, subversive and out-there to be shown on the silver screen. Cohen became an innovator, and perhaps inventor of guerrilla film making as it's known today. He stole footage from coast to coast, making films that are written to battle stale television and movie scripts. He made a career exploiting the contemporary fears of America. Whether they be fears of communists (The Invaders & Coronet Blue), minorities (Bone) or a contaminated environment (It's Alive).

From his early blaxploitation days working with Yaphet Kotto on Bone and Fred Williamson on Black Cesar and Hell Up In Harlem” among others, to his stranger and more monster filled era with films like It's Alive about a killer baby, Q: The Winged Serpent about...a...winged serpent... and The Stuff about a killer snack food – both starring Michael Moriarty. And then there is God Told Me To about an alien visitor who might just be God, which features a police officer played by Andy Kaufman.

From this brief list and description of his film, you can get a sense of just how bold Cohen became as his career flourished.

But some of Cohen's BEST stories aren't told by him, but about him in the director's chair. King Cohen tracks down and interviews some of the biggest and best names to ever be attached to Cohen's films, as well as his peers.

One of the funniest stories in this doc is about the making of Q, when Cohen and his crew were filming the finale – with machine gun firing police who fight off the winged serpent at the peak of the Chrysler Building. There was no attempt to warn the general public, or at the very least, the police. The machine gun fire (shooting blanks of course) could be heard for blocks and empty shell casings fell from the Chrysler Building down onto the street – leaving passers by to think there were terrorists attacking. When told that he was creating a panic on the street, Cohen ordered a member of the crew to go film the panic. This my friends, is a stroke of opportunistic film making genius!

As you can tell, King Cohen is more that just a run down of Cohen's greatest hits. It offers a fascinating look at the man and his unique filmmaking style from on the set of some of his most iconic films. None of which would have been possible if it weren't for Cohen's conviction and drive to see his vision complete as he thought it should be done.

King Cohen is a wonderful cornucopia of creativity and inspiration. It should be required viewing for any aspiring filmmaker.

King Cohen celebrates one of America's most memorable and prolific filmmakers, and it's a blast! Everyone should go watch it - just do it!

Dark Star Pictures just acquired North American rights to the King Cohen and is planning a July 7th theatrical release, as well as an August 14th VOD release.


★ ★ ★ ½