Larry Cohen


Director, Screenwriter

About

Also Known As
Lawrence G Cohen, Lawrence G. Cohen
Birth Place
New York City, New York, USA
Born
April 30, 1936

Biography

After honing his craft writing and creating series for 1950s and 60s TV and having several screenplays produced in the 60s, Cohen became a major low-rent auteur of 70s cheapie genre movies. His ambitious 1972 debut, "Bone" (aka "Dial Rat for Terror" or "Beverly Hills Nightmare") featured Yaphet Kotto as a Black intruder who has a surprising showdown with an affluent white couple (Andrew ...

Notes

Cohen is a filmmaker with many talents and birthdates. Michael Singer's "Film Directors" places him in NYC on July 15, 1941 while both "Variety's Who's Who in Show Business" and Rodek and Honig's "The Show Business Encyclopedia" state he was born in Chicago on April 20, 1947. Something called "Checklist 117" designates 1938 as his birth year in NYC. However the usually reliable "Motion Picture Almanac" (1993 edition) claims that Cohen was born on April 20, 1936 in NYC so so shall we.

Biography

After honing his craft writing and creating series for 1950s and 60s TV and having several screenplays produced in the 60s, Cohen became a major low-rent auteur of 70s cheapie genre movies. His ambitious 1972 debut, "Bone" (aka "Dial Rat for Terror" or "Beverly Hills Nightmare") featured Yaphet Kotto as a Black intruder who has a surprising showdown with an affluent white couple (Andrew Duggan, Joyce Van Patten) in their Beverly Hills home. This bizarre black comedy was an attempt to adapt the social satirical concerns of British playwright Joe Orton and Jean-Luc Godard (circa "Weekend" 1967) into an American milieu. Cohen went on to produce, write, and direct a series of somewhat schlocky but thoughtful and thoroughly entertaining films.

Cohen favors NYC locations, veteran Hollywood performers (Broderick Crawford, Dan Dailey, Celeste Holm, Jose Ferrer, June Havoc) and composers (Bernard Herrmann, Miklos Rozsa) and quirky leading men (Michael Moriarty, David Carradine). His is a morally ambiguous universe without true heroes or absolute villains. His notable 70s work includes the "blaxploitation" entry "Black Caesar" (1972) and its sequel, "Hell Up In Harlem" (1973), the cult horror film about a monstrous baby, "It's Alive" (1974)--followed by two sequels, the supernatural cop thriller, "God Told Me To/Demon" (1976) and the subversive two-bit biopic "The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover" (1977).

In the late 70s and throughout the 80s, Cohen provided stories and/or screenplays for the films of others (William Richert's "The American Success Company" 1979, "I, the Jury" 1982, "Scandalous" 1984, "Best Seller" 1987) while continuing to produce, direct, and write self-conscious, low-budget pictures. These include the NYC cop vs. winged serpent thriller, "Q" (1982), "The Stuff" (1985), an unsavory horror satire about a devilish dessert; "A Return to Salem's Lot" (1987), a horror sequel/spoof featuring the inimitable filmmaker Sam Fuller as an intrepid vampire hunter; and Bette Davis's final film, "Wicked Stepmother" (1989). Cohen also wrote and produced the popular "Maniac Cop" (1988) and its two sequels.

As a writer-director, Cohen's first film for the 90s was "The Ambulance"--a suspense thriller about a mysterious ambulance that abducts NYC residents--which opened abroad but never received an American theatrical release. In 1993, he kept busy as a screenwriter scripting the Sidney Lumet-directed legal/psychological thriller, "Guilty as Sin" and providing the story for Abel Ferrara's take on "Bodysnatchers."

Just when the industry might be tempted to write off Cohen as a progenitor of B-grade (and sometimes C- and D-grade) material--however knowing and irony-laced--he would inevitably sell a screenplay that would involve major Hollywood talent. Meanwhile, he would continue to do journeyman work regularly writing and directing (and sometimes even providing music for) a never-ending series of TV movies, cable films and direct-to-video fare. Cohen provided the ultimate case-in-point when he sold the screenplay for the hitman thriller "Phone Booth" (2003) to Twentieth Century Fox. Although Cohen's last big-screen credit had been on the ultra-schlocky horror film "Uncle Sam," the script for "Phone Booth" managed to attract the attention of potential leading men such as Brad Pitt, Jim Carrey, Will Smith and Mel Gibson before the film (with uncredited rewrites by Brian Helgeland and Stephen Gaghan) was finally lensed by director Joel Schumacher with hot newcomer Colin Farrell in the leading role (The movie also garnered notorious pre-release publicity when its 2002 release date was postponed for several months after a string of similar real-life murders occurred in the Washington D.C. area just before the film was supposed to open). The result was a re-heating of Cohen's career, landing him script purchases and development deals with virtually every major studio in Hollywood. The first result of Cohen's second coming was the similarly telephonic thriller "Cellular" (2004), for which he received story credit.

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

Original Gangstas (1996)
Director
As Good As Dead (1995)
Director
The Ambulance (1991)
Director
Wicked Stepmother (1989)
Director
It's Alive III: Island of the Alive (1987)
Director
Deadly Illusion (1987)
Director
A Return To Salem's Lot (1987)
Director
The Stuff (1985)
Director
Special Effects (1984)
Director
Perfect Strangers (1984)
Director
Q (1982)
Director
Full Moon High (1981)
Director
It Lives Again (1978)
Director
The Private Files Of J. Edgar Hoover (1977)
Director
God Told Me To (1976)
Director
It's Alive (1974)
Director
Black Caesar (1973)
Director
Hell Up in Harlem (1973)
Director
Bone (1972)
Director
Beverly Hills Nightmare (1972)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

Nightmares in Red, White and Blue (2009)
Spies Like Us (1985)

Writer (Feature Film)

It's Alive (2009)
Screenplay
Connected (2008)
Story By
Captivity (2007)
Screenplay
Captivity (2007)
Story By
Cellular (2004)
Story By
Phone Booth (2003)
Screenplay
The Defenders: Choice of Evils (1998)
From Story
Uncle Sam (1998)
Screenwriter
Invasion of Privacy (1997)
Screenplay
Ed McBain's 87th Precinct: Heatwave (1997)
Screenplay
Ed McBain's 87th Precinct: Ice (1996)
Screenwriter
The Ex (1996)
Screenplay
As Good As Dead (1995)
Screenwriter
The Expert (1995)
Screenplay
Guilty As Sin (1993)
Screenplay
Badge of Silence: Maniac Cop III (1993)
Screenplay
Body Snatchers (1993)
Story By
Body Snatchers (1993)
From Story
The Ambulance (1991)
Screenplay
Maniac Cop 2 (1990)
Screenwriter
Wicked Stepmother (1989)
Screenplay
Desperado: Avalanche at Devil's Ridge (1988)
Screenplay
Maniac Cop (1988)
Screenplay
It's Alive III: Island of the Alive (1987)
Screenplay
Deadly Illusion (1987)
Screenplay
Best Seller (1987)
Screenwriter
A Return To Salem's Lot (1987)
From Story
A Return To Salem's Lot (1987)
Screenplay
The Stuff (1985)
Screenwriter
Special Effects (1984)
Screenplay
Scandalous (1984)
From Story
Perfect Strangers (1984)
Screenplay
Women of San Quentin (1983)
From Story
I, the Jury (1982)
Screenwriter
Q (1982)
Screenplay
Full Moon High (1981)
Screenplay
The American Success Company (1979)
From Story
The American Success Company (1979)
Screenwriter
It Lives Again (1978)
Screenwriter
The Private Files Of J. Edgar Hoover (1977)
Screenwriter
God Told Me To (1976)
Screenplay
Man on the Outside (1975)
Screenwriter
Italianamerican (1974)
Story By
It's Alive (1974)
Screenplay
Italianamerican (1974)
From Story
Hell Up in Harlem (1973)
Screenwriter
Shootout In A One Dog Town (1973)
From Story
Shootout In A One Dog Town (1973)
Screenwriter
Black Caesar (1973)
Screenwriter
Bone (1972)
Writer
Cool Million (1972)
Screenwriter
In Broad Daylight (1971)
Screenplay
El Condor (1970)
Screenwriter
Daddy's Gone A-Hunting (1969)
Screenwriter
The Legend of Custer (1968)
Writer
I Deal in Danger (1966)
Screenwriter
Return of the Seven (1966)
Screenwriter

Producer (Feature Film)

As Good As Dead (1995)
Producer
Maniac Cop 2 (1990)
Producer
Wicked Stepmother (1989)
Executive Producer
Maniac Cop (1988)
Producer
It's Alive III: Island of the Alive (1987)
Executive Producer
A Return To Salem's Lot (1987)
Executive Producer
The Stuff (1985)
Executive Producer
Perfect Strangers (1984)
Producer
Q (1982)
Producer
Full Moon High (1981)
Producer
It Lives Again (1978)
Producer
The Private Files Of J. Edgar Hoover (1977)
Producer
God Told Me To (1976)
Producer
It's Alive (1974)
Producer
Black Caesar (1973)
Producer
Hell Up in Harlem (1973)
Producer
Bone (1972)
Producer

Art Director (Feature Film)

B. J. Lang Presents (1971)
Art Director

Art Department (Feature Film)

B. J. Lang Presents (1971)
Set Design

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Flightplan (2005)
Other

Director (Special)

Sparrow (1978)
Creator
Sparrow (1978)
Creator

Writer (Special)

Sparrow (1978)
Writer
Sparrow (1978)
Writer

Special Thanks (Special)

Sparrow (1978)
Writer
Sparrow (1978)
Writer

Director (TV Mini-Series)

The Invaders (1995)
Creator

Life Events

1958

Worked as a writer for "Kraft Mystery Theatre" on NBC-TV

1963

Wrote for "Arrest and Trial", an ABC-TV cop/lawyer drama

1965

Formed own film production company, Larco

1966

Created and wrote episodes of the ABC-TV WWII spy drama, "Blue Light", starring Robert Goulet

1966

Wrote "The Return of the Seven", a Burt Kennedy-directed sequel to "The Magnificent Seven"

1966

Feature screenwriting debut, "I Deal in Danger", a film version of "Blue Light"

1970

Wrote and directed his first play off-off-Broadway, "Nature of the Crime" starring Tony Lo Bianco

1971

TV movie writing debut, "In Broad Daylight"

1972

Feature debut as a producer and director, "Bone" (which he also wrote)

1972

Wrote the TV-pilot-turned-TV-movie "Cool Million" (AKA "Mask of Marcella") starring James Farentino

1973

Wrote and directed the feature films "Hell Up In Harlem" and "Black Caesar," both starring Fred Williamson

1974

Wrote and directed the horror film "It's Alive"; followed with sequel "It's Alive 2" in 1978

1974

Co-wrote the screenplay treatment for Martin Scorsese's documentary short "Italianamerican"

1976

Wrote, produced and directed the feature film "God Told Me To" starring Tony Lo Bianaco, Deborah Raffin and Sandy Dennis

1977

Wrote and directed the feature film "The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover" starring Broderick Crawford and Jose Ferrer

1979

Provided the original story for the feature film "The American Success Company" starring Jeff Bridges

1981

Wrote and driected the comedy-horror remake "Full Moon High"

1982

Adapted the Mickey Spillane novel "I, the Jury" for the screen, starring Armand Asante as Mike Hammer

1982

Wrote and directed the comedy-horror film "Q", about an Aztec god-beast in New York City, starring Michael Moriarity

1983

Provided the story for the NBC women-in-prison telepic "Women of San Quentin"

1983

Wrote and directed the thriller "Perfect Strangers"

1984

Co-wrote the story (with director Rob Cohen) for the comedy "Scandalous"

1985

Made first film appearance, as Ace Tomato agent in John Landis's "Spies Like Us"

1985

Wrote and directed the comedy-horror film "The Stuff" and the sci-fi thriller "Special Effects" starring Michael Moriarity

1987

Provided the screenplay for the well-regarded detective thriller "Best Seller" starring James Woods and Brian Dennehy

1987

Co-wrote the story and directed "Return to Salem's Lot," the comedic sequel to the film based on Steven King's thriller; again worked with Moriarity as the star

1988

Wrote the screenplay for the cult horror film "Maniac Cop"; returned for sequels "Maniac Cop 2" in 1990 and "Badge of Silence: Maniac Cop III" in 1993

1988

Created the syndicated reality series "Cop Talk: Behind the Shield" (1988-1989)

1989

Wrote and directed the comic witchcraft caper "Wicked Stepmother" starring Bette Davis

1990

Wrote and directed the suspense thriller "The Ambulance"

1993

Co-wrote the screen story for director Abel Ferrara' sci-fi remake "Body Snatchers"

1993

Wrote the screenplay for the courtroom potboiler "Guilty As Sin," directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Don Johnson and Rebecca DeMornay

1995

Wrote episodes of the television drama "NYPD Blue"

1995

Wrote the original screenplay for the HBO action telepic "The Expert"

1996

Wrote the straight-to-cable thrillers "Invasion of Privacy" and "The Ex" which debuted on HBO

1998

Provided the story for "The Defenders: Choice of Evils," the Showtime telepic revival of the classic TV courtroom drama

1998

Wrote the screenplay for the schloky thriller "Uncle Sam"

2002

Wrote the original screenplay for the thriller "Phone Booth," directed by Joel Schumacher and starring Colin Farrell

2004

Penned the thriller "Cellular"

2007

Wrote the thriller, "Captivity" starring Elisha Cuthbert

Photo Collections

Hell Up in Harlem - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for Hell Up in Harlem (1973). One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.

Videos

Movie Clip

It's Alive (1974) - Give Me One Of The Puppies Idyllic if foreboding opening (Bernard Hermann music), writer-director-producer Larry Cohen gives us the evening it looks like the baby’s coming, Sharon Farrell the mom, John Ryan the dad, with a nice Walter Brennan impression, Daniel Holzman the kid, from It’s Alive, 1974.
It's Alive (1974) - Just A Very Very Big Baby All seems well, though mom Lenore (Sharon Farrell) is a little worried, with dad Frank (John Ryan) waiting in a Santa Monica maternity ward, then writer-producer-director Larry Cohen with as dramatic a mood shift as you’ll see, in the killer-baby horror hit It’s Alive, 1974.
It's Alive (1974) - They Say It Has Teeth And Claws The L-A cops (James Dixon, Michael Ansara) pretty ho-hum about finding another victim of the killer baby, then the mom (Sharon Farrell) with an new iffy nurse (Nancy Burnett), dad (John Ryan) intervening, then a bit of director Larry Cohen’s subjective killer-camera, in It’s Alive, 1974.
God Told Me To (1976) - You Mad At Somebody? After a messy opening Manhattan sniper sequence, police official Mike Kellin comments and we meet Tony LoBianco as detective Nicholas, doing what he can with the water-tower shooter (Sammy Williams), Jo Flores Chase the mom, in writer-director-producer Larry Cohen’s God Told Me To, 1976.
God Told Me To (1976) - Where Is All The Joy? Traumatized after a sniper incident, New York cop Nicholas (Tony LoBianco), who’s just promised his Manhattan girlfriend that he’ll get out of his marriage, visits his wife (Sandy Dennis) in Long Island, where she makes it clear that he’s the spooky one, in Larry Cohen’s God Told Me To, 1976.
God Told Me To (1976) - Stop The Parade? New York writer-director Larry Cohen shoots the St. Patrick’s Day parade, as weirded-out detective Nicholas (Tony LoBianco) tells his boss (Mike Kellin) there’s going to be a shooting, and now-legendary comic Andy Kaufman has a bit as the crazed cop, in the horror-mystery hybrid God Told Me To, 1976.
Full Moon High (1981) -- Original Trailer Leading man Adam Arkin is more prominent than his dad Alan, and co-star Ed McMahon doesn’t appear at all, in the rude trailer for independent director-producer Larry Cohen’s low-rent comedy-horror-nostalgia feature Full Moon High, shot in 1979 but released in 1981.
Bone (1972) - Take These Cars Off My Hands! The provocative opening of provocative writer-director Larry Cohen’s first feature, Andrew Duggan selling cars on TV against an unorthodox background, then finding a rat in the pool, with his wife (Joyce Van Patten) at their Beverly Hills mansion, in Bone, 1972, also starring Yaphet Kotto.
Bone (1972) - If You're Looking For Employment Presumably affluent Beverly Hills couple Bill and Bernadette (Andrew Duggan, Joyce Van Patten) are calling the pool service about a rat when Yaphet Kotto (title character) appears, and they assume he’s an exterminator, and things get tense, in writer-director Larry Cohen’s Bone, 1972.
Bone (1972) - We're Losing Our Shirts Gonzo Beverly Hills car salesman Bill (Andrew Duggan) and wife Bernadette (Joyce Van Patten) are being abused by sort-of home-invader Yaphet Kotto (title character), who’s discovered they’re broke, except for an account he’s been hiding, in Larry Cohen’s suspense comedy Bone, 1972.

Trailer

Family

Carolyn Cohen
Mother
Died of emphysema at age 88 on January 17, 2000.
Ronni Chasen
Sister
Publicist. Older.

Bibliography

Notes

Cohen is a filmmaker with many talents and birthdates. Michael Singer's "Film Directors" places him in NYC on July 15, 1941 while both "Variety's Who's Who in Show Business" and Rodek and Honig's "The Show Business Encyclopedia" state he was born in Chicago on April 20, 1947. Something called "Checklist 117" designates 1938 as his birth year in NYC. However the usually reliable "Motion Picture Almanac" (1993 edition) claims that Cohen was born on April 20, 1936 in NYC so so shall we.