Hill House Star Oliver Jackson-Cohen Joins Haunting of Bly Manor

Hill House actor Oliver Jackson-Cohen is joining Vitoria Pedretti in the cast for the upcoming season, The Haunting of Bly Manor. Mike Flangan’s The Haunting of Hill House series was a big hit for Netflix last year, dramatically re-imagining Shirley Jackson’s source material to positive effect. The streaming giant has since announced that the show is becoming an anthology and will base its second season, Bly Manor, on Henry James’ famous 1898 horror novella, The Turn of the Screw. As a result, the next installment will feature all-new characters and settings.

What it won’t feature, thankfully, is a completely new cast. Just last month, it was announced that Hill House breakout Victoria Pedretti is returning to star in Bly Manor, with Flanagan once again calling the shots as director. While plot details are mostly being kept under-wraps for now, it has been confirmed that Pedretti will headline Bly Manor as Dani, a young governess who is hired to care for two “very unusual” children at the eponymous (and, possibly, haunted for real) estate.

Related: What is Bly Manor? The Haunting Season 2’s Story Explained

The Wrap is reporting that Jackson-Cohen will star opposite Pedretti in Bly Manor as Peter, an individual who’s described as simply being a “charming fellow”. Peter is also said to be a leading character and will reportedly interact with Dani directly while she’s working at her (creepy) new job.

It’s only fitting that Jackson-Cohen and Pedretti reunite for Bly Manor; the pair played twin siblings Luke and Eleanor “Nell” on The Haunting of Hill House, and their characters shared a special connection that made it all the harder for them to recover from their traumatic childhood experiences when their family lived in Hill House. As impressive as the Hill House cast was overall, Jackson-Cohen and Pedretti had, in some ways, the most challenging roles and really stood out among the talented ensemble for it. Filmmakers have clearly taken notice of them too, as evidenced by Jackson-Cohen having also been recently cast as The Invisible Man in Universal’s reboot.

Now that Jackson-Cohen and Pedretti are back for Bly Manor, though, it will be interesting to see what other Hill House cast members end up returning for this new installment. Carla Gugino, who played Luke and Nell’s mother Olivia, has confirmed that she and Flangan (who’ve worked together multiple times already) have discussed it, so there’s a real possibly that she too will sign on down the line. Who knows: if there are enough roles to go around and things work out scheduling-wise, the entire Crain family may yet reunite for a second round of Haunting together.

NEXT: What to Expect from The Haunting of Bly Manor

The Haunting of Bly Manor premieres on Netflix in 2020.

Source: The Wrap

2019-07-15 02:07:40

Sandy Schaefer

10 Essential Larry Cohen Movies

Larry Cohen’s recent death at the age of 77 marked the end of an era of moviemaking that has all but disappeared. Beginning as a television writer in the 1950s, he made the jump to film with 1972’s Bone, which serving as writer, director, and producer. This effort set him on a path in small budget genre films filled with a sense of guerilla-style.

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Pugnacious, shrewd, and willing to do anything to steal a shot, Larry Cohen made constantly inventive cinema. Minus the fancy trappings of movies made within a more traditional studio system, his flicks are smartly written and socially conscious: favoring parody and social commentary over Hollywood effects. That’s not to say that his films lack action or intrigue, however: Cohen was a highly conceptual director, using B-movie creatures and plots to point out uneasy truths that are still relevant. Below are ten of his most essential works.

10 Bone (1972)

Far different from the genre fare he’d eventually become known for, Cohen’s directorial debut is a somewhat heavy-handed comedic jab at American race relations delivered via a story about a miserable Beverly Hills couple (Joyce Van Patten & Andrew Duggan) who mistake a robber/rapist named Bone (Yaphet Kotto) for an exterminator, who then takes them hostage in their own home.

Provocative even by today’s standards, Cohen’s talky first feature is like a challenging three-hander play on film. But Bone isn’t as cut and dried as it initially appears–neither in thematic content nor style. Strange, surreal, perverse, and compelling, this dark satire of the elite class and the racist specters that haunt them is of a different stripe from his later works, but still features the sly humor and clear-eyed messaging of his best features.

9 It’s Alive (1974)

A gynecological nightmare predating Cronenberg, It’s Alive is about a couple, Frank Davis (John Ryan) and his wife, Lenore (Sharon Farrell) who are nervously prepping for the birth of their second child. After Lenore’s water breaks, the two rush to the hospital where the baby is born, after which it attacks the staff, and escapes. As the couple tries to cope with the guilt and uncertainty of their predicament and locate their sharp-toothed little brute, the creature cuts a bloody swath across Los Angeles.

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Bolstered by a score by the legendary Bernard Herrmann (Psycho) and a Val Lewton-esque focus on shadowy, subtle scares, Cohen’s inaugural horror effort is both a monster movie and an allegory on the dangers of procreation.  At once sensational and heady, Cohen’s It’s Alive trademarked the unique blend of B-movie thrills and political/philosophical themes that would be his bread and butter.

8 God Told Me To (1976)

A favorite among film people (Panos Cosmatos essentially lifted a character wholesale from it for his 2018 feature, Mandy) God Told Me To is a seedy police procedural turned full-tilt sci-fi freakout. The story of a devout Catholic NYPD detective (Tony Lo Bianco) investigating a series of homicides by perpetrators who believe that “God” told them to kill is patently silly, but Cohen’s no-nonsense, vérité style makes even the inconceivable feel utterly plausible and rooted in New York grime.

Peeling back the layers of this out and proud B-picture, one finds a profoundly sick and scary vision of a faith-starved America unmoored and adrift in the cosmic void. Though it somewhat lacks the strong socio-political undercurrents that are often found in his filmography, God Told Me To is the director’s masterwork: a film that makes you laugh at the grim absurdity of it all, but leaves its oily fingerprints on your soul.

7 It Lives Again (1978)

Instances of bloodthirsty infants have cropped up across the country. Having weathered the nightmarish ordeal with his own kid, Frank Davis has begun crashing baby showers to forewarn those who may carry the same mutant gene as he and intercede before their children can be impounded by the government. When Frank absconds with expectant parents Eugene (Frederic Forrest) and Jody Scott (Kathleen Lloyd) to a hidden compound, they learn that the bloodthirsty-babies may be the next step in mankind’s evolutionary journey.

Trading the first film’s more internal existential terrors for apocalyptic fears on an exterior, global scale, It Lives Again offers up Cohen’s twisted litter of mini-monsters as Mother Nature’s response to a planet killing itself in brutal slow-motion with pollution and pills. It Lives Again’s wider scope makes it an ambitious companion piece to the first film, following its initial concept to its logical conclusions about a world where pregnancy is treated as a dangerous epidemic.

6 Q: The Winged Serpent (1982)

When New York suffers a rash of decapitated window-washers and brutal flayings, the city’s detectives start looking for answers. The Cause? Quetzalcoatl, the legendary flying serpent of Aztec lore, has been awoken by a cult and begun feasting on innocent pedestrians. While fleeing a botched robbery, an ex-convict named Jimmy Quinn (Michael Moriarty) discovers the beast’s nest high atop the city in an abandoned belfry. Jimmy offers to help the NYPD in their quest to clip the flying monster’s wings, but only if they make it worth his while…

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Q: The Winged Serpent was one of Cohen’s most successful films at the box office, and it’s also one of his most approachable flicks. Sometimes referred to as “Cohen’s King Kong”, the film is a contemporary take on the AIP monster cheapies of the 50s and 60s and a grand example of his ability make a small production feel big.  It also marked the director’s first time working with Moriarty, who would go on to be a frequent collaborator–his low key eccentricities bringing a special flavor to no less than four Cohen features. Q: The Winged Serpent is one of those rare movies that has something to offer everyone but doesn’t suffer in quality because of it.

5 Special Effects (1984)

Arriving in cinemas the same year as Brian De Palma’s Body Double, Cohen’s own riff on Hitchcock plays a little more fast and loose with the trappings of the identity thriller, using it to express his attitude towards Hollywood, itself. Special Effects stars Eric Bogosian as a megalomaniacal movie director who, after killing a young wannabe actress (Zoë Lund), sets out to make a feature film about the deed starring the dead starlet’s husband opposite a dead ringer (also Lund) who assumes the part of his wife, the murdered actress.

Those who find De Palma’s erotic thrillers incoherent or overly complex will have a hell of a time unpacking Cohen’s version of the same. The director is less interested in a coherent, tidy narrative than commenting on the nature of filmmaking and reality. But this is still Cohen, so his concerns are less abstract; cruel directors, egotist artists, and corrupting studio heads all receive a severe lashing by his incisive pen, and though it isn’t entirely successful, Special Effects, as was its creator’s intent, leaves viewers with plenty to chew on.

4 The Stuff (1983)

This screed against consumer culture is the broadest of Cohen’s films, and also his best known. When a group of workers discover a white, viscous substance bubbling up from the ground, they decide to market it as the newest food craze to American families. Low in calories and addictively tasty, “the stuff” unfortunately carries one awful side-effect: it mutates those who eat enough of it into lurching zombies before consuming them from the inside out.

This scathing 80s satire takes on corporations, capitalism, and the military-industrial complex with varying degrees of success, but it’s the consumerist elements and uber-gross special effects that stick in the mind. The Stuff is over-ambitious and Cohen’s reach eventually exceeds his grasp in the film’s back end, but it’s his most biting and audacious cinematic blunderbuss, and the last “great” film he’d make.

3 The Ambulance (1990)

When a comic book artist Josh Baker (Eric Roberts) attempts to visit a woman named Cheryl (Janine Turner) who suffered a sudden collapse and was rushed to a hospital by an ambulance, he’s shocked to discover that there is no record of her ever being admitted. The mystery deepens when he learns that Cheryl’s roommate has also disappeared after being picked up by the same ambulance. Convinced that the women are pawns in a conspiracy, Josh seeks to discover their whereabouts and blow the lid off of whatever dealings are going on.

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An evil ambulance abducting innocent women is a bizarre setup, even for Cohen but this is one of his most purely pleasurable films. The paranoid conspiracy angle central to his earlier work is obviously there (this time taking a shot at the medical industry itself) but it’s a bit downplayed in favor of cheap thrills. A heavily-mulleted Eric Roberts (brother of Julia) comes within spitting distance of a Michael Moriarty level of nervy peculiarity, and the cast is rounded out by James Earl Jones, Red Buttons and Stan Lee in what may have very likely been his first film cameo. A streamlined, high-speed thriller, The Ambulance is lighter Cohen fare, but a total blast, and essential nonetheless.

2 Original Gangstas (1996)

The rare film directed, but not written by Cohen, Original Gangstas is a throwback feature reuniting some of the biggest stars of the blaxploitation era for one last go-round as versions of the characters that made them famous decades earlier. Fred Williamson stars as LA football coach, John Bookman who returns home after the death of his father to discover that his town has been taken over by violent gangs, one of which he used to be a part of. Mad as hell, Bookman teams up with the parents of a murdered boy (Jim Brown and Pam Grier) and two of his former gang brothers (Ron O’Neal and Richard Roundtree) to take back the town.

RELATED: Superfly Trailer Gives Blaxploitation A Modern Makeover

Though nowadays such a movie helmed by a white man would be highly controversial, Cohen was a fixture of the urban exploitation boom–writing/directing classics of the genre like Black Caesar (1973) and Hell Up in Harlem (1973) with his usual flair and subversive style. The cast of Original Gangstas is a veritable who’s who of blaxploitation cinema and though they’re a bit longer in the tooth, they still radiate the undeniable charisma they displayed in their best-known films. With solid action and a nostalgic bent, Original Gangstas is a loving tribute to the blaxploitation stars of old directed by one of the era’s most influential filmmakers.

1 Phone Booth (2002)

A commercial hit and one his rare blushes with mainstream success, the Joel Schumacher directed Phone Booth was Cohen’s last solid work as a screenwriter. Though he wrote/directed an episode of Mick Garris’ Showtime Anthology series Masters of Horror, penned Captivity (2007), and co-wrote the script for the remake of his own It’s Alive (2009), this neo-noir thriller is the last film that feels like vintage Cohen.

Based on an idea Cohen initially had in the 1960s,  the film stars the then up-and-coming Colin Farrell as an arrogant NYC publicist who, upon using a phone booth, finds himself the target of a sniper. The film was shot in LA but in signature Cohen style, the rat-a-tat dialogue and attitude is all New York, unfolding in real time in yet another of the director’s audacious genre experiments. Though it’s easy to wish Cohen had been able to direct for the big screen at least once more (and heaven knows the film could have used a bit more of his immediacy and grit), Phone Booth feels like a fitting end to a cinematic legacy for a filmmaker who was always a writer at heart.

NEXT: The 15 Best Independent Horror Movies Ever Made

2019-04-17 03:04:02

Rocco Thompson

Larry Cohen, Director of Horror Cult Classics It’s Alive & The Stuff, Dead at 77

Unfortunate news came out this morning, as acclaimed independent filmmaker Larry Cohen has passed away at the age of 77. He was best known for his work in the horror genre, writing and directing cult films such as It’s Alive and The Stuff.

Cohen’s career started in in the 1950s and 1960s, writing for television series such as Kraft Theatre, Espionage, The Fugitive, and The Defenders. Cohen would go on to create his legacy in Hollywood during the 1970s, starting with the 1974 cult classic It’s Alive. Cohen was a versatile director, able to cross over into a variety of genres and work on a variety of films, such as Black Caesar, the 1973 blaxploitation crime drama. His style of writing and directing blended together horror, comedy and social commentary, just like contemporaries Wes Craven (A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Hills Have Eyes), and John Carpenter (The Thing, Halloween). In 2006, he was deservedly invited to direct an episode of the anthology series Masters of Horror, “Pick Me Up,” which starred frequent collaborator Michael Moriarty.

Cohen’s death was first reported by Bloody Disgusting, and as they mention, those interested in learning more about Cohen’s career can check out the 2017 feature-length documentary King Cohen: The Wild World of Filmmaker Larry Cohen.  Other notable films he either wrote, directed, or did both on were Maniac Cop, Phone Booth, and Q, which stands to show the uniqueness of Cohen’s filmography. The slasher film Maniac Cop showcased his writing efforts in a story about two policemen and a policewoman searching for a killer wearing an officer’s uniform who should be dead. Phone Booth is a 2002 thriller starring Colin Farrell and Katie Holmes about a PR man answering a ringing phone in New York only to find a killer on the line.  Q might’ve been the most interesting of his films, as it deals with a giant man-eating flying serpent in New York.

Just before his passing, Cohen was interviewed for the 1980s horror movie documentary In Search of Darkness. In Search of Darkness is an upcoming feature examining the “golden age” of 1980s horror through the eyes of the actors, directors, and crew working on some of Hollywood’s biggest horror hits during that pivotal decade. This interview is now even more special with the knowledge that it’s perhaps the final time fans will get to hear from him.

Horror fans everywhere have felt the impact of Cohen’s work, even if they haven’t seen anything he made, due in part to all the later filmmakers he influenced. Due to his versatility as a writer and director, he was able to work with a litany of the industry’s best for almost 50 years. His impact on the filmmaking community will be felt for years to come, and his creations should be studied by all those looking to make a dent in the world of movies.

R.I.P. Larry Cohen: July 15, 1941March 23, 2019

Source: Bloody Disgusting

2019-03-24 02:03:40

Daniel Owens