Larry Cohen Talks His Career Overall, Hanging Out with Hitchcock, Maniac Cop, and More! - Dread Central
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Larry Cohen Talks His Career Overall, Hanging Out with Hitchcock, Maniac Cop, and More!

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If you’re lucky enough to be in New York City this weekend, the newly renovated and re-opened Quad Cinema is screening seven of Larry Cohen’s films to showcase the legendary filmmaker’s 60-year career. From It’s Alive to the blaxploitation staple Hail Caesar, Cohen has managed to make films for himself that so many of us have embraced.

For horror fans, the extended “Whisper” cut of God Told Me To screens Saturday, with Q:The Winged Serpent and the Eighties cult classic The Stuff playing on Sunday. Cohen will be present at most screenings, but check out the Quad Cinema website for more details.

I had the honor of speaking to Cohen about his career, his close relationship with Alfred Hitchcock, his feelings about the Maniac Cop remake from producer Nicolas Winding Refn, and more so dig in!

DC: Are you thankful you came up in the era of filmmaking that you did? Looking back, do you feel like you had great timing as a filmmaker?

LC: Well, I like the fact that I grew up in a time when if you made a movie, it got to play in theaters on a big screen and you got to go and see it with an audience. You got to go to the theater to see a line outside of the theater, people buying tickets. It was kind of a communal experience to see a movie; you saw it with a crowd. The chances of getting theatrical plays in major theaters is difficult because the big, big 250-million-dollar movie is playing at five different theaters at the multiplex. So there’s no room for anybody else.

DC: Well, I know a lot of people did discover your movies on DVD and they had a little bit more of a life because of that, so that’s a positive.

LC: Well, the history of the motion picture business is many movies that didn’t have much success originally became famous on television, like It’s A Wonderful Life, Frank Capra’s picture. It was a flop when it came out and became a big success. Movies have a strange life of their own. They’re like your kids; you have your kids, you raise them, and they go out into the world and lord knows what they’re gonna do.

DC: You’re so connected to New York. Do you love New York City more or less than you did when you first started?

LC: Of course, it’s different now because I couldn’t do the same kind of stuff I did years ago because of security. Today, if I was doing some of the action sequences and the chases and the gunfights and stuff that I did, we’d be in terrible trouble. We couldn’t be firing machine guns off the top of the Chrysler Building or having people get shot in front of Trump Tower. So, it’s a whole different city.

DC: Is the Chrysler Building scene in Q: The Winged Serpent probably the craziest thing you did as a filmmaker?

LC: It was certainly one of the most dangerous things I did because I don’t like heights particularly, and here I was shooting a movie right at the top of the Chrysler Building. I mean, this isn’t a fake like you see in regular movies where they simulate everything. We were actually up there with the entire crew and all the actors. It’s a very small space up there, and there’s no glass on the windows; it’s all open. So you just take a couple of steps in the wrong direction, and you fall off the Chrysler Building.

DC: I’m glad you didn’t.

LC: I’m glad, too. This would be a very short interview.

DC: Would you say that Uncle Sam, which you wrote, is your most political film?

LC: It’s not one of my favorite movies, but the script was good, and the idea of taking a symbol of America and making him into a demon of some kind was a good idea. It’s like taking ice cream and making it into a villain in The Stuff or taking a baby and making it into a villain in It’s Alive. And also Maniac Cop that turned the police officer into a monster. So, I’ve taken these images that have always been associated with benevolence and tried to turn them into objects of terror.

DC: What do you think about the Maniac Cop remake? It was also a shame to hear of Robert Z’Dar’s passing a couple of years ago.

LC: As far as I know right now, there is no Maniac Cop remake. They haven’t been able to get the financing together. They have to pay me for the character for remaking the picture, but I didn’t write the script for this one. As far as Robert Z’Dar goes, I never liked him in the part anyway. I wanted them to just hire a good stuntman who could physically move around that was agile, and it wasn’t what I wanted. I’m not responsible for the ones I didn’t direct.

So far, they’ve been talking about this for several years, but nothing’s happened yet. I wish them luck though because, after all, I have a financial interest in it being made. I wish them luck, but I have nothing to do with the picture.

DC: Some people wouldn’t connect you with somebody like Hitchcock. When did you first become involved with him? Was it the original idea for Phone Booth?

LC: No, I pitched him an idea for a movie in New York at the St. Regis Hotel, where he liked to stay, and we spent three and a half hours together. Then I went to California after that to work on it with him, and Universal talked him out of doing the project. So, that didn’t work out. We were friends enough where I had lunch with him a few times at Universal, and it was always at least three hours every time. And we talked about movies, and he loved to tell you stories; he loved to tell you movies he never made. He loved to tell you historical stuff about Jack the Ripper and anything else he thought might be interesting. We had a lot of fun together. We never made a picture together, but we did talk about maybe doing something in a phone booth, but it never came about.

DC: What are some of the differences with this “Whisper” cut of God Told Me To that fans will be seeing this weekend?

LC: There are maybe four or five different scenes that are not in the final picture that are dramatic scenes that are quite good. I shouldn’t have cut them out, but we were trying to streamline the picture and we put in some special effects that really weren’t necessary. I like this cut better. So, it’s a chance for people to see the other version.

This is the only print of it. It’s never going to be shown anywhere else. It only has a temp music track of Bernard Herrmann’s music… this is just a special showing.

DC: That’s why it’s still great to go to the movie theater sometimes because you can still see things you can’t see anywhere else.

LC: Yeah, I guess so! We’ll see how the audience reacts to it.

DC: Somebody like Hitchcock has a lot of documentaries made about them; now, you’ve got your own documentary, King Cohen. What do you think of the film?

LC: I didn’t see the final one, but what I saw, obviously, I liked. It’s always nice to have somebody saying nice things about you. The clips are quite good. I think they did a very nice job, and they put a lot of time into it. We’ve been, so far, invited to five or six film festivals so I think the thing is going to get exposure.

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The Strangers: Prey at Night and Spread Holiday Fear

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Sometimes we wonder just what our local UPS man thinks when he drops boxes off here at Dread Central HQ. Case in point: this ominous little package that was left upon our doorstep to say “hello” and wish us a happy and probably not-so-healthy holiday season!

That’s right, kids! The Strangers: Prey at Night spread a bit of holiday fear around these parts with a little something for everyone, including those who celebrate Hanukkah! Check out the eye candy below!

The Strangers: Prey at Night is directed by Johannes Roberts (47 Meters Down) from a script by Bryan Bertino and Ben Ketai. It stars Martin Henderson, Christina Hendricks, Bailee Madison, and Lewis Pullman.

The film hits March 9, 2018.

Synopsis:
A family’s road trip takes a dangerous turn when they arrive at a secluded mobile home park to stay with some relatives and find it mysteriously deserted. Under the cover of darkness, three masked psychopaths pay them a visit to test the family’s every limit as they struggle to survive. Johannes Roberts directs this horror film inspired by the 2008 smash hit THE STRANGERS.

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Exclusive: Go Behind the Scenes of Leatherface

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Rev up your chainsaws because next Tuesday sees the Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital release of Lionsgate Home Entertainment’s Leatherface (review). A prequel to Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Leatherface takes us into the origins of the Sawyer family and the makings of the titular character that has since become a mainstay in popular culture.

To give you a taste of what the special features are like on this release, we’ve got an exclusive behind-the-scenes clip that focuses on the young actors that make the script come to life.

You can see the footage for yourself below, and then you can pre-order Leatherface through Amazon.

Stephen Dorff, Lili Taylor, Sam Strike, Sam Coleman, Vanessa Grasse, Nicole Andrews, Julian Kostov, Jessica Madsen, and Lorina Kamburova star. Leatherface was written by up-and-coming genre scribe Seth M. Sherwood.

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12 Classic Creepy Christmas Critters!

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Though Krampus and The Grinch usually get all the spooky holiday love, the team of Arthur Rankin, Jr., and Jules Bass at Rankin/Bass Productions, Inc., gave us many memorable monsters who revel in Christmas fear! Each year they lurk about on TV before a multitude of heroes have had a chance to change their black hearts into golden ones! Just like Ebenezer Scrooge at noon on Christmas Eve, these monsters start as spooky as can be, and we have a list of some of our absolute favorites for you below!

Aeon the Terrible

“Rudolph’s Shiny New Year” (1978)
Faster than you can scream “La Carcagne,” the giant claw(s) of Aeon the Terrible will swoop in and carry you off to the island of No-Name: a giant iceberg near the North Pole where the sun NEVER shines! This bad boy is known to terrorize the skies of the Sands of Time, a desert near Father Time’s castle. Dare you make the trek? Make sure you look up (you know… something the characters in Larry Cohen’s Q: The Winged Serpent NEVER did), or else you might lose your head!

Bumble the Abominable Snowman

“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (1968)
For many years man has searched for the missing link. Regardless of what you call it – Sasquatch, Bigfoot, the Yeti, the Abominable Snowman… this furry fear maker has been as elusive as finding a jawbone in a haystack on Farmer Vincent’s farm. It figures that none other than Rudolph would use his shiny red nose as a means to shed some light on this beast’s whereabouts! Let’s just be thankful he didn’t end up on Bumble’s menu. Lord knows this toothy terror tried!

Burgermeister Meisterburger

“Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” (1970)
Sure, there’s nothing mythical or supernatural about Burgermeister Meisterburger, but here’s a guy who makes Scrooge look like Nelson Mandela. I mean, come on… not even old Ebenezer would have banned toys from an entire town! Or would he? The jury is still out on that one. Incidentally, the police are still on the lookout for a yet-to-be-identified male who was boiled in his own pudding and buried with a sprig of holly through his heart. If you are in possession of any info leading to the capture of the heartless villain who committed this heinous act, please call 800-423-TIPS.

Charlie in the Box

“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (1964)
Remember the cover of Child’s Play 2? I’m willing to bet that old Charlie in the Box was more than just a little inspirational to the artist who came up with it! Never mind clowns! We DARE you to stare into Charlie’s soulless eyes… the devil’s eyes…

Commander of the Wind Demons

“The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus” (1985)
How foul is the Commander of the Wind Demons? So foul that he hasn’t even been given a name… just a title. Even worse, this nasty creature has been taxed with deciding the fate of Santa Claus himself! There are a lot of really weird and disturbing characters in 1985’s “The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus,” which was based upon 1902 children’s book written by L. Frank Baum of the same name. You’ll be seeing some more of them on this very list should you have the gumption to keep on reading.

The Heat Miser

“The Year Without a Santa Claus” (1974)
If Satan himself were to don a festive costume, we’re pretty sure he’d look a lot like the dreaded Heat Miser from 1974’s “The Year Without a Santa Claus.” With his marvelous singing voice and flair for theatrics, is it really such a stretch?

Need more proof? Just try to get that damned song out of your head. Hell hath no fury, we tell ya!

King Awgwa

“The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus” (1985)
Quake in fear, kids! QUAKE IN FRIGGIN’ FEAR! King Awgwa is the leader of the Awgwas, a race of evil creatures that have the power to influence human minds. He also had the power to terrorize Karen Black via Zuni Fetish doll 10 years earlier, but that’s another tale… a whole trilogy of them.

Old Mag the Hag

“The Leprechauns’ Christmas Gold” (1981)
If the mythical Irish creatures known as Leprechauns have a scourge, it is no doubt Old Mag the Hag. A banshee who specialized in spreading bad luck wherever she went, Mag needed to dig her claws into a heaping helping of gold before Christmas Day or she would turn to tears and wash away forever. Reports of Mag have been eerily quiet since 1993. Despite multiple attempts Warwick Davis has remained unavailable for comment.

The Snow Miser

“The Year Without a Santa Claus” (1974)
The Yin to the Heat Miser’s Yang, the Snow Miser may be a bit more cheery than his hot-headed friend, but we can assure you that under that cheery exterior he has a heart of pure ice. He also suffers from the single most severe case of post-nasal drip we’ve ever seen. Seriously, someone get this dude a chisel and some tissue. Thanks.

The Evil Cossack King, Kubla Kraus

“Jack Frost” (1979)
The Evil Cossack King, Kubla Kraus is more or less the Dr. Frankenstein of the Rankin and Bass universe because he possesses the know-how to bring life to his creations… an army of Keh-Knights, amongst other robotic servants. Kraus sits upon the throne of his lair on Miserable Mountain, and the only thing on his agenda is keeping the residents of January Junction in a constant state of fear. Good thing old Jack Frost is around to chill him out, or his army of mechanical monsters would have no doubt taken over the world by now.

Winterbolt

“Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July” (1979)
If Kraus could be considered a Doctor Frankenstein of sorts, then without question the evil sorcerer Winterbolt would have felt right at home in the Lord of the Rings universe at the side of Lord Saruman. This sneaky devil actually conjured that terrible storm in which Rudolph with his nose so bright guided Santa’s sleigh that night. Furious that his nefarious plan was foiled, Winterbolt rises with a vengeance and convinces both Frosty the Snowman and Rudy to head to Florida to become carny freaks for the dreaded ringmaster Sam Spangles. I know… WTF, right? Talk about a cold-hearted bastard.

The Winter Warlock

“Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” (1970)
Without question, the most terrifying of all Rankin and Bass’ many creations was the infamous Winter Warlock. I mean, just look at this dude. He SCREAMS “I’m nefarious!” If he didn’t have the train fetish that he did, there’s no way ANYONE, Rudolph or otherwise, would ever have made it across the Mountain of the Whispering Wind, thereby killing Christmas off for good and plunging us all into a dark wonderland of humbug!

That’s it! Did we miss any of your favorites or rekindle some long dormant memories? Let us know in the comments section below. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good fright!

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