The Quad's pocket retrospective celebrates genre master Larry Cohen's homegrown films with Cohen in person at select screenings. Actor Eric Bogosian in person following the screening of Special Effects
Series includes the director's "Whisper" cut of his warped 1976 sci-fi oddity, God Told Me To
Irrepressible and prolific, writer-producer-director and native New Yorker Larry Cohen is a true original. Over the course of 60 years in film and television, he has become a master at taking ingenious premises and using them to playfully subvert and rethink genre movies of all stripes, with mischievous social commentary always in the mix. Here we focus on seven films shot on his home turf, in which the city becomes a playground for his idiosyncratic cinematic genius and outrageous high-concept imagination.
Cohen once again imbues the benign and everyday things with menace as Eric Roberts gives new meaning to the term “ambulance chaser” when he tries to find out why Janine Turner never made it to the emergency room after she’s whisked away by ambulance following a collapse. James Earl Jones is on hand as the requisite skeptical cop. Print courtesy of The Academy Film Archive
Football star turned blaxploitation fixture Fred Williamson stars in Cohen’s inspired remake of Little Caesar, in which a Harlem youth ascends from shoeshine to mob overlord, with the action set to an irresistible original soundtrack by James Brown. As brutal a work of social realism as it is a cracking entertainment.
A way-out mash-up of detective mystery, horror and science fiction elements, with a twist that gives new meaning to the word transgender. With panic in the streets, guilt ridden Catholic cop Tony LoBianco goes down a rabbit hole investigating a series of mass killings whose culprits (including kill-crazy cop Andy Kaufman!) share only one motive: we refer you to the title. Print courtesy of The Academy Film Archive
Legend has it God Told Me To was originally to be titled Whisper, with Bernard Herrmann set to compose the score. Cohen produced and screened an advance cut of the film (for one week only at a theater in Oregon) as a means of getting a tax credit. Herrmann passed away shortly following and the film was recut for its theatrical release. This original print, the Whisper cut, has never been seen in New York before.
New York premiere of director’s “Whisper” cut With Larry Cohen in person
Liquid Sky star Anne Carlisle becomes romantically involved with a hitman intent on murdering her son, witness to a contract killing. Made back to back with Special Effects and similarly drawing on the ambience of mid-’80s downtown, Cohen’s film is a typically efficient thriller with a feminist bent and his customary gallery of sharply drawn side characters. Print courtesy of The Academy Film Archive
Death from above! New York is terrorized by a flying menace and jittery thief Michael Moriarty knows where it nests. Meanwhile cop David Carradine suspects the man-eater is the reincarnation of Mexican god Quetzalcoatl, summoned by a spate of sacrificial murders. An old school monster movie with a modern sense of humor and amazing aerial shots of early ’80s Manhattan. Print courtesy of The Academy Film Archive
A twisted take on the downtown ’80s, with sleazy Hollywood washout Eric Bogosian sleeping with and then murdering actress wannabe Zoë Tamerlis Lund (of Ms. 45 fame) and then using a lookalike (Lund again) to make a movie reconstruction of his crime. A sly tribute to Vertigo and clever send-up of De Palma–esque cinematic self-reflexivity. Print courtesy of The Academy Film Archive
“Are you eating it or is it eating you?” went the tag line to Cohen’s satiric takedown of junk-food culture and Corporate America. Industrial spy Michael Moriarty is hired by ice cream manufacturers to discover the secret of an addictive new dessert that’s putting them out of business and discovers that… it’s alive! Print courtesy of The Academy Film Archive