Los Angeles: Larry Cohen, the writer and director best known for his work in horror and films on exploitation of black people, including the cult classic “It’s Alive”, “Black Caesar”, and “Hell Up in Harlem”, has died. He was 77. Cohen’s friend, actor and publicist Shade Rupe, confirmed the news, which was announced in a post on Cohen’s official Facebook page. Rupe said Cohen died here on Saturday night surrounded by loved ones, reports variety.com.
“The entire King Cohen team mourns the loss of its star, hero and King, Larry Cohen. His unparalleled talents were surpassed only by his giant heart. The impact he made on television and cinema will be felt forever, and our deepest condolences go out to his family, friends and fans,” reads the post.
Cohen began his career in the 1960s in television, writing scripts for episodes of well-known TV series including “The Defenders”, “Espionage” and “The Invaders”. In the 1970s, Cohen began to focus on filmmaking, penning and directing the 1974 horror sleeper hit “It’s Alive”.
He continued to produce low-budget horror films featuring a police procedural element through the 1980s, often working with the actor Michael Moriarty. The duo collaborated in the 1982’s “Q” and followed it up with “The Stuff” in 1985. Cohen also directed Bette Davis in her last film, “Wicked Stepmother” in 1989. He directed “The Ambulance” in the 1990s and the Blaxploitation film “Original Gangstas”, but eventually began focusing on screenwriting.
Cohen was included in the Showtime TV anthology “Masters of Horror” in 2006, among filmmakers like Wes Craven, Dario Argento, John Carpenter, David Cronenberg and more. His segment, “Pick Me Up,” starred Fairuza Balk with Laurene Landon and Moriarty.
“Gremlins” director Joe Dante remembered Cohen on Twitter, calling him a “true original”. “Baby Driver” helmer Edgar Wright also paid tribute to Cohen, writing that he “truly was an independent freewheeling movie legend. For so many fun high concept genre romps with ideas bigger than the budgets, for so many truly inspiring cult movies, I thank you Larry.”