Friday, November 16, 2018

King Cohen (2017, Steve Mitchell)

Going back through my old reviews always brings a tear to my eye.  I can still vividly remember watching some of the films for the first time and how much of an impression they had on me.  I used to work at a gas station and had many hours to sit and watch movies, which I more than took advantage of.  Sometimes I would fit up to 10 films in over one weekend.  At the time, I was just getting into cult films and my knowledge of the genre (and many sub-genres) was limited, to say the least.  I had no idea if a film was going to be an absolute gem or unwatchable garbage, so I would just watch anything.  One director whose films had a real impression on me, and always ended up being gems, was Larry Cohen.

King Cohen follows the amazing career of Larry Cohen, from his time as an aspiring comedian to the present, which still finds him writing constantly.  In the 1960s, Cohen was writing for television and created such shows as Coronet Blue, The Invaders and Blue Light.  After being fed up with producers, Larry then decided to go out on his own and produced, wrote and directed his first film in 1972 titled Bone.  Though misunderstood at the time, Bone has since become a cult classic and was one of the films I remember watching back in my gas station days.  Next up was the hugely successful Black Caesar with Fred "The Hammer" Williamson, and its sequel, "Hell Up in Harlem".  Cohen then went on to a successful career, probably best known for directing horror films (Q: The Winged Serpent, It's Alive, The Stuff) and later, a surprising turn as a Hollywood screenwriter (Cellular, Phone Booth).

Director Steve Mitchell (who wrote his own classic cult film, Chopping Mall), gets very in depth as we learn how Cohen managed to break away from the big studios and make the films he wanted to make without compromise.  These films are so great because they are the work of a pure artist who was determined, wouldn't take no for an answer and who put every penny of his admittedly small budgets on the screen.  We also see many of Cohen's stars (Fred Williamson, Michael Moriarty, Eric Roberts) and fellow directors (John Landis, Martin Scorsese, Mick Garris) stress the importance of what Cohen was doing and how there will probably never be anyone like him again.  La La Land Records (aka the Soundtrack Gods!), enter into the home video market with King Cohen, their first film release (and hopefully the first of many).  The Blu Ray also comes with a CD soundtrack of original music by Joe Kraemer, the composer of such films as Jack Reacher and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation.

Purchase King Cohen directly from La La Land Records HERE

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