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Larry Cohen, Cult Horror Writer-Director of ‘It’s Alive,’ Dies at 77

Variety — Erin Nyren

Larry Cohen, best known for his work as a B-movie producer and director in the ’70s and his later work in screenwriting, has died. He was 77.

Cohen’s friend, actor and publicist Shade Rupe, confirmed the news, which was announced in a post to Cohen’s official Facebook page. Rupe said Cohen died in Los Angeles Saturday night surrounded by loved ones.

“The entire #KingCohen team mourns the loss of its star, hero and King, #LarryCohen,” reads the post. “His unparalleled talents were surpassed only by his giant heart. The impact he made on television and cinema will be felt forever, and our deepest condolences go out to his family, friends and fans.”

Cohen began his career in the 1960s in television, writing scripts for episodes of well-known TV series including “The Defenders,” “Espionage,” and “The Invaders.”

In the ’70s, Cohen began to focus on filmmaking, penning and directing the 1974 horror sleeper hit “It’s Alive,” which went on to earn $7 million and spawn two sequels for Warner Bros. after receiving a re-release. The film included a score by Bernard Hermann, who frequently collaborated with Alfred Hitchcock.

Cohen continued to produce low-budget horror films featuring a police procedural element through the ’80s, often working with the actor Michael Moriarty. The duo collaborated on 1982’s “Q,” and followed it up with “The Stuff” in 1985. Cohen also directed Bette Davis in her last film, “Wicked Stepmother,” in 1989. He directed “The Ambulance” in the ’90s and Blaxploitation film “Original Gangstas” starring Ron O’Neal, Pam Grier, and Fred Williamson, but eventually began focusing on screenwriting.

In 2002, Cohen penned Colin Farrell-starrer “Phone Booth,” which became a commercial success, grossing $98 million worldwide. He also wrote 2004 Chris Evan pic “Cellular,” also starring Kim Basinger, William H. Macy and Jason Statham.

Cohen was included in the Showtime TV anthology “Masters of Horror” in 2006, among filmmakers like Wes Craven, Dario Argento, John Carpenter, David Cronenberg and more. His segment, “Pick Me Up,” starred Fairuza Balk with Laurene Landon and Moriarty.

“Gremlins” director Joe Dante remembered Cohen on Twitter, calling him a “true original.”

“Baby Driver” helmer Edgar Wright also paid tribute to Cohen, writing that he “truly was an independent freewheeling movie legend.”

“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.”

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