After starting in Washington D.C. nine years ago Horror Movie Night has expanded to include chapters in Austin, Dallas and Chicago. Horror’s Not Dead’s own Brian Kelley is the originator and programmer of this illustrious weekly Wednesday night tradition which features a “classic” horror film. Each week I will be reviewing/commenting on the past week’s selection so do your best to find the film, most of which have not made it past VHS, and follow along. Better yet, start your own chapter!
CRUNCH! CRUNCH! CRUNCH!
Just a black screen and the sounds of someone, or something, gnawing on what sounds like an apple are how you are introduced to the great film that is Death Bed: The Bed That Eats. What follows only shatters every expectation you have for a film with such a title which opens in the best way possible.
The plot is fairly simple – there’s a bed that eats people.
The longer synopsis is this bed is in a remote mansion and will feast on anyone who comes along feeling so inclined to sleep, or fornicate, in this strange bed in the middle of nowhere. For many, many years this bed has existed after a demon built it and his evil tears of blood brought it to life after the death of his human beloved. Guess she couldn’t handle his demonic sexual prowess. Now this cot from hell waits to eat everyone and everything it comes in contact with, until a group of girls show up and one resembles that beautiful girl from so long ago.
The Artist: Her eyes remind you of her eyes, of the one who gave you life. Not even you could swallow down your own mother without a thought. But now you know and you will be able to eat. If she comes back, she will be eaten.
This film has a bit of a sordid past. It was allegedly filmed somewhere between 1972 and 1977, and though it’s credited with 1977 it was not officially released until 2003 on DVD. Writer/Director George Barry decided to give his only film a proper release after finding out through the Internet that bootlegs had been circulating for years. Lucky for us, the movie-watching public, this is now an easy to find classic.
So much about Death Bed is confusing. From pacing, to themes, to reality and beyond you are pretty much guaranteed to not see another film like this. Of course, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but this is a very different and special film. In a good way though!
At times the movie gives off impressions that at any moment we could break into full-blown porno. The look and feel reminds me of some of the mid-seventies adult films, especially those who tried to blur the lines between the horror and adult world. Hardgore (1974) is one that really comes to mind. In that film there is a nymphomaniac in a sanitarium where there is a satanic cult and no devil bed, but there is still a similar style. You could easily add some hardcore action to Death Bed to get the same results. One of the first scenes sees a young couple that stops in for a picnic and a little lovin’. There is nudity but it almost feels like this should have gone a little farther. Like maybe this is an R-rated cut or something. I’m not saying that Barry should have made this into a porno; I’m just kind of surprised it’s not.
While on the subject of our horny picnickers, let me just inform the ladies that if your date’s idea of a romantic al fresco dinning situation is a couple of apples, a bucket of fried chicken, and a bottle of wine, you can probably forgo shaving your legs.
The porn vibes surely come from a combo of the low budget 16mm filmmaking and the dreamlike, surreal qualities of the movie. Maybe old George was going for something arty. Long segments of the film have little to no dialog, leaving much of the talking to voice over, and a lot of nonsensical wandering or scenes of things happening in people’s nightmares while around the bed. This, of course, is not what kills them but it keeps them frozen in fear long enough for the bed to start its feast. Unfortunately some of these scenes will put you in a daze as well. They can get a little boring, but they go by fairly quickly.
How the bed eats is kind of fun and interesting as well. The person or object to be consumed is enveloped in yellow-ish foam that then pulls it into the “mattress”. Once in the bed’s stomach or whatever, they swim around in a yellow-orange liquid that begins to eat away at the meal and digest. This process is not only for people as the bed eats many other things like fried chicken, flowers, cross necklace, luggage, and my favorite – some Pepto-Bismol. Even hungry beds suffer from heartburn and indigestion.
The main actor in the film is another bit of a head-scratcher. He is the ghost of an artist who is trapped in a small space in the wall behind his painting of the bed. There really is no rhyme or reason for his existence other than his communication with the bed, which unfortunately never speaks. About halfway through the film you find out the artist’s backstory but it still makes no sense as to why he was chosen to be the bed’s companion for eternity over any of his other victims. However, if it weren’t for our voice over painter then we wouldn’t really know what’s going on at all. He explains what the bed is up to and why through his one sided conversations. He is also the key to helping our final living characters defeat the evil slumber device. As we saw with the hilariously failed attempt by the two gangsters hiding out, shooting it as it digests you does not work.
Of the rest of the cast, very few ever acted again. Some went on to work in the industry behind the scenes, most even did so here. One stand out is the actor in the role of “Sharon’s Brother” is none other than William Russ. If that name sounds vaguely familiar it’s because he played Alan Matthews (the dad) for 155 glorious episodes on ABC’s Boy Meets World. His role in Death Bed was his first and it’s relatively small, unlike his hair, but has one of the most memorable scenes of the entire 77 minutes. Skeleton hands!
After many years it’s nice to know that Death Bed: The Bed That Eats is available for everyone to see thanks to the visionary George Barry and the fine folks over at Cult Epics. Not only that, but you can snag it over on Amazon for only twelve bucks! I highly recommend everyone try to check out this film at some point because it’s a fun, short ride through the life of a killer bed. What’s more awesome than that?
Until next week – remember that a demon’s eyes are always filled with blood.
Body Count: 20 – give or take
Best Death Scene: Gangsters Go Down Shooting, or Cross Necklace Saw
Number of Non-Human Things Eaten by the Bed: 13
Number of Boobs: 10
Number of Hungry Beds: 1
Coming soon to Horror Movie Night (Chronicles are posted one week after screening):
-11/16/11: Cathy’s Curse (1980)
-11/23/11: Monster Shark (1984)
-11/30/11: Creepazoids (1987)
-12/7/11: Mutant Hunt (1987)
Yeah right, like I was going to do a piece on Death Bed without including Patton Oswalt’s hilarious bit on the film. Check it out below!