Legendary director and screenwriter Larry Cohen has died at the age of 77.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Cohen died Saturday night in Los Angeles.
Cohen’s many credits as a writer-director included the horror films It’s Alive (1974), Q (1982), and The Stuff (1985), as well as the blaxploitation movie Hell Up in Harlem (1973), and the Billy Dee Williams-starring thriller Deadly Illusion (1987). He also wrote the scripts for 1987’s Best Seller, 1988’s Maniac Cop, and 2002’s Colin Farrell-led Phone Booth.
Cohen was famous for his guerilla-filming style, shooting scenes in public places without permits or permission.
“I remember shooting [Black Caesar] in front of what is now Trump Tower,” Cohen told EW in 2017, “having a shot going on in which the leading man gets shot and staggers around 57th St., collapsing in the street, with hidden cameras, and hundreds of people running to his aid, thinking it was a real event. I had someone dress in a police uniform, closing down Fifth Avenue. It was unbelievable. We had no permission to do anything like this. I got away with so much in this city that I would probably go to prison for now.”
For Q, about a giant serpent, Cohen filmed at the very top of New York’s Chrysler building. “The Chrysler building people didn’t know we were going to climb up into the needle,” Cohen said in the same interview. “Who would do such a thing? We got to the very top of the Chrysler Building and after that there was no elevators or anything, it was just a very rickety ladder. I didn’t even know if the crew would follow me. Then, of course we had to put pulleys down and ropes to bring the cameras and the lights. Finally, the Chrysler building found out what we were doing and said we had to have more insurance. So, I called the insurance broker, and he came to the top of the Chrysler building and wrote the policy there. I signed the contract right at the top of the building.”
Cohen was recently the subject of a documentary, King Cohen: The Wild World of Filmmaker Larry Cohen.
Those who have paid tribute to Cohen include directors Don Coscarelli (Phantasm), Joe Dante (Gremlins), Edgar Wright (Baby Driver), and Mick Garris (Psycho IV), who worked with Cohen on the Masters of Horror TV show.
“Just tragic news of the passing of the great Larry Cohen,” wrote Coscarelli on Twitter. “He was charming, warm and I treasured our friendship. So proud of his accomplishments later in life as a screenwriter- Phone Booth is a favorite. RIP my friend.”
“RIP Larry Cohen, a true original,” wrote Dante.
“Many people say they’ve made ‘independent’ films (many financed by majors) but Larry Cohen truly was an independent freewheeling movie legend,” wrote Wright. “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.
“We lost another Master,” wrote Garris. “Another hero. Larry Cohen created inimitable films, so unique as to border on madness. They’re masterworks only he could make. He was sweet, funny, and supernaturally talented. I saw him last week, and I already miss him. We love you, Larry. Safe travels.”