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La-La Land Entertainment Gives King Cohen the Royal Treatment

Feature Presentations: Episode 21

Welcome to my column dedicated to the appreciation of physical media supplements called: Feature Presentations. The goal of this column is not to say whether a film is good or bad and worth picking up or not—I would like to highlight the discs that go the extra mile and provide film fans with enough tasty tidbits to satisfy even the hungriest of cinephiles. With all that out of the way, today’s article will focus on the documentary King Cohen from La-La Land Entertainment.

The title card for King Cohen.

As someone who feels comfortable enough to self-identify as a cinephile, I got into Larry Cohen late in the game. I distinctly remember The Stuff on heavy rotation within my household when I was young. Maniac Cop also showed up once or twice, but outside those two films, Larry Cohen was a writer and director with whom I had little knowledge. Only as an adult that I dipped more than a toe into the Larry Cohen pool.

Once adulthood hit, my film tastes expanded in certain areas while shrinking in others. As the years wore on, mainstream movies became less palatable while I searched for creators willing to go against the grain. And who goes more against the grain than Larry Cohen?

Never one to stand in line, every Larry Cohen film has a unique offering. Even when dabbling into sequels (the It’s Alive trilogy, Maniac Cop 2 and 3, or A Return to Salem’s Lot) or movies that appear to fit that Hollywood mold (Phone Booth), there is always a flair that Larry Cohen adds to his scripts that makes them “Cohen-esque.” A Larry Cohen film is more than just a time-wasting hour and a half; his works are an experience. No one writes dialogue quite like Larry, and there’s not another director around who shoots a film production like Larry Cohen.

When it comes to Larry Cohen, I have never heard a better summation of him than from Joe Bob Briggs. On an episode of TNT’s MonsterVision, Joe Bob was hosting a double-feature of the first two It’s Alive films. He stated that you only need to watch a few seconds of film and then exclaim, “It’s Larry!” Joe Bob continues, “He has this style all his own. It’s not like anybody else. He has this super sharp photography. Always some quirky New York characters. Great scenes. He writes dialogue better than anybody in the business.” I couldn’t have said it better myself, Joe Bob.

So, now that we’ve had some time gushing about the creative force that Larry Cohen is—let’s get to the subject at hand: King Cohen.

To me, there’s nothing better than a well-put-together filmmaking documentary. From De Palma to Crystal Lake Memories, learning the ins and outs of a film’s production or tracing a filmmaker’s career gives me a sense of joy. You can add King Cohen to that list.Fred "The Hammer" Williamson sitting in a chair smiling with a cigar in hand.

Assembling those in the know through Cohen’s career, including Fred “The Hammer” Williamson (above), Eric Roberts, the late Robert Forester, and even Martin Scorsese, sit to discuss the life of Larry Cohen. I can’t stress the amount of talent that La-La Land Entertainment were able to assemble. It shows how many people Larry Cohen touched over his turbulent career while still offering honest assessments about working with such a maverick director.

The icing on the documentary cake comes from the words of Larry Cohen himself. King Cohen debuted in 2017, two years before Cohen’s passing. Thankfully, La-La Land Entertainment spent ample time with Chen and picked every inch of his brain. As a creator, one has many ideas in their mind at any given point. Watching Cohen discuss his career and life through 2017, you see why a documentary on Larry Cohen is so much fun. Listening to his thoughts and opinions on his and other people’s works and the filmmaking business is pure joy. Listening to Larry Cohen makes you want to be a filmmaker and not one altogether. Larry’s like that.

La-La Land Entertainment went the extra mile and stacked this documentary with an assortment of Larry Cohen extras.

First up, we get 47 minutes of raw interview footage with Larry Cohen titled “An Audience with The King.” Did you not get enough Larry Cohen? This assortment of excised stories is just for you. This feature includes musings about Larry Cohen’s standup to chronicling how James Brown‘s rejected music from Hell Up In Harlem became the album, The Payback, are detailed. “An Audience with The King is just 47 minutes of pure, unadulterated entertainment. I could listen to Larry Cohen tell war stories forever, and to have an additional 47 minutes on top of the feature makes my heart happy.

Next, we have a 38-minute feature, “More Stories from The King’s Court,” which includes further tales from those associated with Larry Cohen. As with “An Audience with The King,” you get more goodness about Larry Cohen and his productions. Some of the stories focus more on behind-the-scenes anecdotes than Cohen himself. Stories include Sam Fuller and his cigars, Traci Lords recounting how Larry Cohen vouched for her hiring, and Eric Bogosian’s nude scene. As you would expect from such a wild documentary, these excised scenes are gold and highly enjoyable!

The next feature, “Monsters on the Table,” is a four-minute walkthrough with Larry going over the various creatures from his films. “Monsters on the Table” is a short and sweet feature that starts about Cohen’s creations from the It’s Alive trilogy and God Told Me To, but then transitions into a story involving François Truffaut. As with anything involving Larry Cohen, “Monsters on the Table” offers more than one would expect.

The last feature on the disc, “Hello, World,” is a 14-minute compilation of various film introductions he recorded for screenings of King Cohen that Larry was unable to attend. These are cute and add to the aesthetic of Larry Cohen—showing his appreciation to his fans and his sense of humor. “Hello World” is not essential, but any Larry Cohen is good Larry Cohen.

Also included is the two-and-a-half-minute theatrical trailer for King Cohen.

It may sound like I’m wrapping up the review, but La-La Land added one final surprise to the King Cohen Blu-ray package. The entirety of King Cohen has a score composed by Joe Kraemer. That musical composition has been ported over onto CD as a second bonus disc for King Cohen. Honestly, I will not be popping this disc into my daily rotation, but some of the tracks, especially the main theme, “Hail Larry,” is a funky and delightful disco ditty that has gotten stuck in my head here and there. If the disc joins your music library, that’s up to you, but I welcome the inclusion. It’s a satisfying way to round out King Cohen.Martin Scorsese sitting in a chair and smiling.

There you have it! Everything but the kitchen sink has found its way into King Cohen. Heck, the kitchen sink is in there as well! La-La Land Entertainment did Larry Cohen justice by allowing the man to do what he does best, do things his way. King Cohen is a loving tribute to Larry Cohen, told by the man and those who knew him.

Written by Robert Chipman

Robert is a lifelong cinephile and has had an admiration with film for as long as he can remember. When he's not checking out the most recent theatrical release, viewing a movie on one of a 1,000,000,000 streaming services or picking up the latest physical media disc, he's trying and failing to make it in Hollywood as a screenwriter. He also has a weird fascination with Stephen Dorff. Make of that what you will. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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