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Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1977)

Cult Epics
Blu-ray Disc Released: 6/3/2014

All Ratings out of

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 6/3/2014

Even the most mainstream and straight-laced of filmgoers has probably wandered into a "weird" movie at some point in their livers. Perhaps something by Tim Burton or David Lynch -- something which certainly strays from the beaten path. And then there are others who actively seek out the "weird" movies, combing through lists of films to uncover bizarre gems. Well, no matter in which category you fit, forget everything that you've ever known or thought of when it comes to unusual movies, because the king of oddities has arrived -- Death Bed: The Bed That Eats. This "lost" movie has now re-surfaced on Blu-ray Disc and it must be seen to be believed.

Death Bed: The Bed That Eats tells the story of a large, elaborate bed which rests in the basement of a mansion. The bed is possessed by the spirit of a demon and it likes to "eat" people and objects by absorbing them into its acid-like interior. As a spirit trapped in a painting (voiced by Patrick Spence-Thomas) looks on, various individuals wander into the room and are killed by the bed. Through flashbacks, we learn about the beds origins and how it has killed many throughout the years. The only way to stop the bed is for the spirit in the painting to teach one of the travelers of its weaknesses.

I feel certain that the above synopsis makes Death Bed: The Bed That Eats sound like a spoof movie, but I assure you that it is not. The movie is played completely straight (save for one groan-inducing shot) and is lies somewhere between an art-house movie and a horror film. (I think) We are supposed to feel sorry for the artist trapped in the painting (which is illustrated by placing the actor behind a painting which allows light to come through) and we are supposed to feel suspense when a potential victim gets near the bed. It's clear that some work went into the design of the bed and the flashback scene to the bed's origin has some nicely staged shots. There is also an interesting variety of victims who venture into the basement.

However, it is impossible to take this film seriously. I'm not sure what Writer/Director George Barry's goals for Death Bed: The Bed That Eats were, but the movie is so incredibly odd that it's difficult to swallow (pun intended). From the outset, and by that, I mean from the first frame of the film while the screen is still black, we are treated to the sound of biting and chewing (it sounds like someone eating an apple), which is clearly meant to represent the bed's eating. However, we quickly learn that the bed dissolves its victims, so there is no biting or chewing! The dissolving is portrayed by a yellowish foam appearing on the bed and then the victim or object is shown in a vat of yellow liquid. It's clear that the bulk of the movie was shot MOS, so we are treated to a lot of voice-overs or characters talking with their backs to the camera. This means that the acting is often difficult to judge, but Barry must have been convincing, as he gets two of the women to take their shirts off. The lack of ambient sound means that we get a lot of dead space here. The special effects range from OK to ludicrous. The pacing is very slack at times and I don't know what to say about the scene where it seemingly takes 10 minutes for a victim to drag themselves across the floor. Adding insult to injury, Barry has broken the film into chapters; Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Just Desserts.

But, obviously the most insane thing about Death Bed: The Bed That Eats is the premise. Is the idea of being swallowed by a bed a scary one? I guess. (I know that I've slept on some ultra-soft hotel beds which seemingly threatened to do so.) The 70s were full of crazy horror movies which featured a menacing thing, such as The Car, but a bed? It can't move. It has to wait for its victims. This is like a reverse slasher film, as the bed kills a bunch of people...but only when they lie down on it. And when it's not eating, it's sleeping and snoring. A bed that sleeps? What the hell, man?

I know that people say this all of the time, but Death Bed: The Bed That Eats is a movie that lovers of the weird and obscure must see. This doesn't fall into the "so bad it's good" category. This is in the "so weird that I can't believe it exists" category. As if a carnivorous bed wasn't strange enough, Barry added many more elements to make the movie as bizarre and surreal as possible. Will you e enjoy Death Bed: The Bed That Eats? I don't know. But, I guarantee that you've never seen anything like it.

Death Bed: The Bed That Eats can't resist a bucket of chicken (Who can?) on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Cult Epics. The film has been framed at 1.33:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. If I understand things correctly, the movie was shot on 16mm film and Barry was in possession of the sole copy, from which this transfer was made. So, with this, we have a transfer which shows quite a few defects from the source materials, such as scratches, black spots, and some obvious missing frames. There is a mild amount of grain as well. However, the colors looks nice and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is good and things never get soft. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.0 Mbps. As noted above, the film has that "dubbed" sound (not dubstep!) and there is a noticeable hissing during the long, silent periods. I did not detect any overt surround or subwoofer effects. Otherwise, the dialogue is clear and intelligible.

The Death Bed: The Bed That Eats Blu-ray Disc contains a few extra features. The film can be viewed with an Introduction from Writer/Director George Barry from 2003 or Author Stephen Thrower from 2013. We get an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Barry and Thrower. "Behind-the-Scenes of Death Bed in Detroit" (8 minutes) offers a brief introduction from Barry, and we are then treated to Barry giving a tour of the film's shooting locations, which is followed by a visit with Samir Eid, who has a small role in the film. "Nightmare USA" (15 minutes) is an odd piece, as it's a conversation between Barry and Thrower, discussing the latter's book Nightmare USA, which explores American exploitation movies, where we learn what inspired the book and how he went about creating it. "Original Death Bed Credit Music Track" (2 minutes) allows us to view the opening credits as they would have been seen and heard in 1977.

Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long