Perhaps some of the reason for Cohens disappearance might lie in Wicked Stepmother. Wicked Stepmother is without any doubt Larry Cohens worst film. Quirky humour runs throughout all of Cohens films and he has made outright comedy before Full Moon High (1982), which, while it showed that all-out comedy clearly was not Cohens forte, proved enjoyably silly. There are occasionally Cohen-esque moments here like the police station line-up of old ladies brought in in an effort to i.d. the witch but Wicked Stepmother has an infuriating insipidity when placed up against Larry Cohens other work. The magic displays are awful, like they had been conducted by an Edward D. Wood Jr the transformation effects are just stop-action cuts where the two objects often do not even match.
Of course, the big problem that Wicked Stepmother had was Bette Davis. Davis was reportedly not happy with the project and left after several days shooting when the changes she demanded were not made. In an ingenious move, Larry Cohen simply recast the part with Barbara Carrera, explaining it away as Daviss witch possessing a younger body and posing as her own daughter. It is a change that gives the film an ungainly structure. Certainly, Barbara Carrera is on suitably luscious and seductive form. However, Bette Davis is sad to watch. She was 81 at the time Wicked Stepmother was made in fact, this was the last film she ever made and she died before it was even released. In the 1960s with What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), Bette Davis was the first of a group of older stars to appear in a series of Grand Guignol thrillers that deliberately played on the horror of former stars well beyond their glory days. Here there is something ghastly, almost ghoulish, about watching Bette Davis so old that she looks like a corpse with makeup plastered on, and made to go through the same arch reading she always gives. One cute joke though is a cut away to a photo of Lionel Standers first wife after he marries Davis which is a photo of none other than Joan Crawford, who played Bette Daviss sister in Baby Jane and maintained a bitter lifelong rivalry with Davis.
Larry Cohens other genre films are: the killer mutant baby film Its Alive (1974), the bizarre alien messiah film God Told Me To/Demon (1976), It Lives Again/Its Alive (1978), the werewolf comedy Full Moon High (1982), the monster movie Q The Winged Serpent (1982), the sentient fast food takeover film The Stuff (1985), Its Alive III: Island of the Alive (1987), A Return to Salems Lot (1987) and the mad scientist film The Ambulance (1990). Cohens other genre scripts include all of the episodes of the alien invasion tv series The Invaders (1967-8), the psycho-thriller Daddys Gone A-Hunting (1969) and the psycho artist film Scream, Baby, Scream (1970). These days Cohen has gone into seeming retirement as a director at least which is a great loss to the world of genre cinema at the very least and his only work consists of screenplays for the Maniac Cop series beginning with Maniac Cop (1988), various Ed McBains 87th Precinct tv movies, the original story for Abel Ferraras Body Snatchers (1993) remake, the stalker film The Ex (1996), Uncle Sam (1997) about a patriotically minded undead Gulf War veteran, the hilarious psycho sperm donor film Misbegotten (1997), and occasional A-budget cinematic releases such as Guilty as Sin (1993), Phone Booth (2002), Cellular (2004), Captivity (2007), the remake of Its Alive (2008) and Messages Deleted (2009).
Film online in several parts beginning here:-