Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Shocktober Revisited: Death Bed - The Bed That Eats

 This review originally appeared in 2010. Death Bed: The Bed That Eats is also currently available on Blu-Ray from Cult Epics, with some nice supplementary features.

 Tonight I watched Death Bed: The Bed That Eats. This film, shot in 1972, finished in 1977, and never officially released until 2002, is by no means a "good" film. What it is, however, is a film that manages to combine woeful ineptitude with a handful of inventive - albeit stupid - tricks to create a film that, while awful, is imminently watchable.

 To set the stage, listen to this portion of Patton Oswalt's cd "Werewolves and Lollipops" and join the Cap'n on the other side:

Are we all back? Cool.

 The first thing I need to mention is that despite what Oswalt says, the movie is actually not titled "Death Bed: The Bed That Eats People", because the Death Bed eats a lot more than people. In fact, because the Death Bed enjoys toying with its victims so much, it will often eat anything on the bed before it eats a person.

 For example, in the opening scene, the Death Bed eats an apple, drinks a bottle of wine, and then empties a bucket of fried chicken in order to confuse the couple making out next to their food. No, really. Then the death bed closes its curtains and kills the couple off screen, just so we don't quite know what happens to people.

 What we do know is that the Death Bed eats in a way I was not expecting. Yes, it's true, when I saw the name "Death Bed: The Bed That Eats," I just kind of assumed that it created a mouth out of the mattress and baseboard or something like that. Oh no, not this Death Bed. Writer / Director George Barry had a much better idea: digestive fluids.

 That's right; when the Death Bed starts eating something, the person / food object / luggage is covered with yellow bubbles, and then falls into the bed, where the camera cuts to one of two tubs behind yellow glass. This is the clever part: sometimes what we're seeing is food dropped into acid, so that you can clearly see it eating away.

 Other times, we just see skeletons, people, blood, or other objects in regular water. Either way, we're meant to assume this is the inside of the Death Bed. The other clever thing Barry does is to design a bed that has a mattress clearly two or three feet above the floor, so that audiences would theoretically be confused as to how the Death Bed worked.

 Believe me, that's not what's confusing about Death Bed: The Bed That Eats. Everything else is confusing: almost every character narrates part of the film, and there are flashbacks within flashbacks that span.... maybe hundreds of years? It's hard to say. Basically, this demon has sex with a girl on some bed in the middle of a field, but she lives and the demon bleeds on the bed. The demon goes to sleep inside of a tree and the girl dies but doesn't really die, so she's just lying half dead / half alive in a grave that's waaaaayyy to close to a lake.

 Meanwhile, the Death Bed moves into a mansion, then out of a mansion, then back in the mansion, and then to the cellar. Then at some point the mansion is destroyed and only the cellar remains. According to a newspaper - and the narration of a dead artist who lives behind his painting and talks to the Death Bed (don't ask) - thousands (THOUSANDS) of people are killed by the Death Bed between when the girl dies in 1897 and 1977 when I guess the movie takes place.

 But mostly we're asked to follow these three girls who apparently have the property for the weekend (or something). One of them is kinda loopy and is quickly eaten by the Death Bed; the other scares the Death Bed so it holds her prisoner; the last girl uh... well, let's just say she's there to explain how the Death Bed grabs a suitcase earlier in the film.

 Actually, the first girl isn't really "quickly" eaten by the Death Bed, because first it decides to play some dumb "choking game" involving her crucifix necklace, then her skull magically appears outside of the cellar underground and sprouts a rose bush. No, really.

 I'd say more than half of the film's 77 minute running time is devoted to the history of the Death Bed, the demon, the dead girl who isn't dead, or the stupid artist that hates the Death Bed but benefits from it murdering people. I don't really know why; maybe because he painted the Death Bed before letting it eat him...

 When that isn't going on, the brother of one of the girls (you kinda assume it's the loopy one who dies first, but then it turns out to be the one the Death Bed is scared of) shows up in time to be trapped in the cellar.

Oh, and this happens:

 I know it sounds like the Cap'n spoiled practically everything in the movie, but I can't begin to tell you how weird Death Bed: The Bed That Eats gets. This synopsis doesn't come close to capturing how bizarre and arbitrary this movie is, and I didn't even get to the why the Death Bed eats the suitcase (hint: there's Pepto Bismol in the suitcase. Seriously.).

 George Barry recorded a comparably arbitrary and inane introduction to Death Bed: The Bed That Eats, which ends with him essentially saying "go ahead and watch it because it's too late to return the movie," but he doesn't need to do that. Patton Oswalt might sell you on checking it out, but Death Bed will keep you watching well beyond the opening credits. Oh crap, I didn't even mention how it's broken up (by screen titles) into meals of the day.

See Death Bed: The Bed That Eats as soon as you can, and with as many people as you can find. I assure you it's worth your time.

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