on 6 November 2008
........and, it eats people...and there you go. You know that's not how I do things, Anyway I can't say I liked this movie, but then again, I can't say I didn't like it either. I'm more fascinated by the fact that this movie was made at all. In fact, I'm more fascinated by the fact that they started shooting in 1972 and took 5 years to finish filming. At no point did George Barry decide that this little gem wasn't worth finishing, even though after it didn't get distribution he promptly forgot about it.
You'll come to fine out that a demon falls in lust with a girl, but when she dies from his attentions, he grieves and his blood falls on a bed, turning it into a hungry creature that digests anything placed on it. The bed can make flowers grow out of a skull, lock doors, drag bodies around, make munching sounds and pour pepto-bismol out of a bottle. The bed has a pool of digestive juices with blood that can swallow anything without soiling the sheets and it can bring an artist back as a ghost, paint his fingernails black and imprison him behind a painting. A reasonably good premise, some intelligent and clever moments, good fix for the seven dollar budget, but the AWFUL narration, the gigantic lapses in continuity, the lack of explanation or identification of characters...nonetheless this is one of those pix that was so miserable yet well-intentioned that it was great.
But I sat there revising the film in my head and hoping that Craven or Carpenter or even Roth would see this DVD and decide to re-do it with real money and real actors and a real script. Still, if you love lousy horror movies (and you're in the lousy horror movie section) this is a great way to kill a bag of popcorn with a couple of friends.
`Death Bed' is an absolutely unique piece of super-low budget American `70s horror. Thankfully, that's one of my favourite genres of cinema (`Messiah of Evil' and `Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural' spring to mind as particular stand-outs insofar as relative contemporaries of this film go) so I enjoyed this enormously, despite its clear, obvious and quite forgivable flaws. Never officially released until this DVD came out (it took director and creator George Barry, who based it on a dream he'd had, 5 years to finish it only to fail in attaining any kind of distribution, during attempts at which a UK company shamelessly pirated the film!), the time has come for this strange, eccentric, loveable piece of cinema to gain its audience. It may not be a huge audience, but it is certainly deserving of recognition.
The plot, such as it is, concerns a demonic four poster bed that consumes anyone who foolishly uses it as a place of repose. Narrating our little tale in a decidedly deadpan manner is the ghost of Victorian artist Aubrey Beardsley (!), trapped inside one of his own paintings, near to the bed. Beardsley reveals some of the bed's sordid and frequently extremely comic history in flashback, whilst in the present day, the starving piece of baroque furniture proceeds to consume anyone it can, generating gouts of acidic mustard-coloured froth and dragging hapless topless women within its honey-toned liquid interior, in a kind of sedentary rampage. Frankly, if the sheer bizarreness of this paragraph hasn't won you over yet, this is probably not the film for you. But the blackly comic tone really makes this a one of a kind production, at times strangely reminiscent of a more bloody, nightmarish take on Monty Python-esque humour. Indeed, there is something about the way the bed sucks people within it that reminds one oddly of the piece of Terry Gilliam animation featuring a bent-double old man and his cannibalistic pram. This dark humour is unquestionably the defining feature of the film, but this is not to suggest it does not have an extremely sadistic streak: just watch the sequence in which one character makes an incredibly protracted escape, only to be foiled by a deft use of cotton sheets. The overall tone of the film is best compared to `Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things': in fact, if you have any fondness for that masterwork, `Death Bed' should appeal to you, as both films share a very similar ambience, including the ability to switch gears from delightfully macabre humour (`Deathbed's eyeball sequence in particular is extremely funny) to moments of genuine shock.
Furthermore, I would suggest you disregard any suggestion that this film lacks graphic moments: a sequence that deserves to be iconic, featuring one character's hands, is truly nasty in depiction and implication, if not necessarily execution. And as for what the unfortunate individual asks another character to do afterwards... horrid, most unforgettably horrid! Likewise, the idea of remaking this work with a bigger budget and a name director seems to me pretty blasphemous: so much of its charm comes from its extremely personal, dream-like ambience, something that could never survive such a pointless make-over.
Overall then, this is by no means a film for everyone, nor even necessarily for your `typical' horror buff, as if such a thing even exists. But if you're prepared to appreciate George Barry's delicious mix of ludicrous wit (not least the bed's frequently amusing sounds of pleasure and pain) and cruel, perverse slaughter, then a rest on the bed that eats may be just what you need. (And on a parting note, if you enjoy this, check out Fab Press's 'Nightmare USA' tome, by the inimitable Stephen Thrower, for the lowdown on this and many other no-budget pieces of US wonder.)
on 10 July 2014
Death bed The bed that eats.
Out in the middle of nowheresville USA there is a crumbling old country estate. On that estate is an outbuilding, in which lies a four poster bed that isn't what it appears to be. The bed is possessed by a hungry demon and will eat anything that comes by its way. On the wall of this building is a black ink pen drawing by Beardsley (Aubrey Beardsley - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) the artists tormented soul lies trapped behind the painting forced to witness the beds hunger!
If Death Bed sounds f*****g nuts, then the experience of watching it does not disappoint. The one and only film from George Barry, shot on the cheap just outside of Detroit, Death Bed has all the Hallmarks of a first time director. Every mistake imaginable is present in one form or another including stilted dialogue, bizarre and occasionally ludicrous effects and a disjointed narrative that reverts back and forth in time and flips back and forth with various voice overs to represent the characters individual thoughts.
Certainly then the film is something of a mess. But, its a curiously odd and compelling little mess. The flaws and rough edges to the film give it an odd dreamlike quality and the strange humor to the film makes it possibly a rare example of an absurdist horror film. The film has some bizarre and genuinely eccentric sequences, including the shots of both food and people enveloped in yellow acid in the beds 'stomach'.
It's these qualities that has allowed the film to survive all these years. Never officially distributed, the film existed in a strange hinterland of dodgy VHS bootlegs. Thankfully the film has now been unearthed and given a proper release by Cult Epics on region free blu-ray with a decent set of extras.
Death bed is a film you will either love or hate. But if you like odd, sleazy and bizarre 70's films made on zero budgets with a rough, beaten up look to the print then you should at least get a kick out of this film!
Death Bed - The Bed That Eats - it sounds like something a second-grader would write, doesn't it? Obviously, this is not your typical horror film. The title alone compelled me to watch the film, and what I discovered is a sort of mystery. There's nothing mysterious about the film, really; the mystery comes in the reactions other people have had to this long-lost film of the 1970s. Some treat the film as some macabre work of art, expound upon supposedly enlightening fairy tale elements of the story and presentation, play up the erotic nature of the theme, and comment on the macabre humor underlying such a rich presentation. Folks, I won't lie to you - I didn't see any of that stuff in this film. It's a bed, and it eats people - that's about all there is, except for the increasingly weird story of the bed's creation and ultimate destruction.
We find this huge, ornate, hungry bed inside an old stone grotto somewhere on an abandoned estate. No one comes here anymore - apparently a slew of missing persons in that locale scared everyone away long ago, so the bed sleeps (and snores and makes other disturbing man-like sounds). Then an amorous couple shows up, only to find out that they were looking for love in all the wrong places. That's Breakfast. Lunch and Dinner come in the form of a trio of young women who have decided to drive out to the middle of nowhere for no apparent reason. One of the girls disturbs, even scares, the bed, and this leads us into a discussion of the bed's origins. Of course, the bed can't speak for itself; fortunately, decades ago it trapped the spirit of an artist who painted the bed while he was lying in it dying of consumption. Let me tell you, this bed got around in its younger days, even serving at one time as the central element in an outdoor "sexual rejuvenator" scheme.
I won't tell you how the bed actually eats its victims, nor will I explain the really weird story of its origins - I don't want to take away what little fun you might have with this weird little film. There is a little blood and gore involved, but none of it is very graphic in nature. In my opinion, this really isn't a very good film. Some viewers may talk about some sort of Death Bed epiphany, but I didn't take much of anything away from this cinematic experience.
The story of the film is an unusual one, though. A college student named George Barry made this film in the early 1970s on 16mm color film; he finally finished it in 1977, but he was not able to generate any interest in distributing it. Without Barry's knowledge, however, a pirated version of the film found its way into the market in the late 1980s; he only learned about this - accidentally - in 2002. Now the film has been released properly, giving credit where credit is due, as a Lost Horror Film of the Seventies. This is all well and good, but in my opinion Death Bed just isn't a very good horror movie.