Larry Cohen, the director of campy horror classics like It’s Alive, The Stuff, Q and God Told Me To, has died at the age of 77.
Bloody Disgusting first reported news of the prolific screenwriter and filmmaker’s death, which Cohen’s publicist confirmed to the Hollywood Reporter, adding that Cohen died Saturday night surrounded by friends and loved ones. No cause of death was revealed.
Cohen – who also penned the grisly Maniac Cop series, Best Seller, Phone Booth and Cellular alongside episodes of police procedurals like Columbo and NYPD Blue – was a beloved figure in the horror film community.
— Kirk Hammett (@KirkHammett) March 24, 2019
After serving a television writer on a variety of series throughout the Sixties, Cohen moved behind the camera with a trio of Blaxploitation films, 1972’s Bone and 1973’s Black Caesar and Hell Up in Harlem. The following year, with the arrival of 1974’s It’s Alive, Cohen would move into the horror genre he’s most associated with.
“I think I was ahead of my time and still am, as a matter of fact. I mean, all the movies that I’ve made were reflecting what was going on socially in the country,” Cohen told Birth Movies Death in 2018.
“Look at Bone – the first movie I ever made – which was about racism in America. I didn’t realize when I made it in 1970, that 40 years later it’d still be very, very relevant. So, you’re looking at that picture and it really deals with racism in America – which still exists, mind you. People are still being victimized, right and left.”
Cohen would also direct critically maligned cult favorites like 1976’s God Told Me To, which Rolling Stone reevaluated in 2018, 1981’s werewolf flick Full Moon High, the 1982 monster movie Q, a pair of It’s Alive sequels and the horror film The Stuff, the director’s sinister take on consumerism.
“With The Stuff, I wanted to make a picture that had something to say,” Cohen told Birth Movies Death. “Of course, people are still packaging products today which kill people, and then advertising them on television. It used to be cigarettes. But today, there’s no cigarette advertising on television. It’s all medicines, all pharmaceutical stuff. One after the other. And of course they tell you about the product and then they tell you the side effects. And usually one of the side effects is death.”
Outside of the horror genre, Cohen also helmed 1977’s The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover, which explored the rumored private life of the FBI director, the 1996 Blaxploitation reunion film Original Gangstas and 1989’s Wicked Stepmother, acting legend Bette Davis’ final film.
A documentary dedicated to Cohen’s filmmaking legacy, King Cohen, was released in 2018.