Death Bed: The Bed That Eats

1977 monster bed movie

Rating: 11/20

Plot: It's pretty much in the title. A demon-possessed bed eats people while the ghost of a painter trapped behind his own painting watches.

I first heard about this movie in a Patton Oswalt comedy bit, but as much as I like bad movies, it didn't cross my mind to actually watch it until it showed up on the 366 Weird Movies site, one of my favorite movie places. It ended up not being nearly as bad as I expected it to be. In fact, I enjoyed it enough to be glad that Oswalt's act has brought it out of complete obscurity to become somewhat of a cult classic.

It's got a 70's stink all over it and is largely incoherent. The pacing's bad, the acting's probably worse, and there's a special effect or two that will make you laugh at times you're not supposed to laugh. What sets it apart from other sleazy 70's horror flicks is that it's got a strange black humor while still maintaining a serious vibe. This never feels like a film that isn't taking itself and the ridiculous concept seriously, but it's got some unexpected humor thrown in. Add in some arthouse tropes, and you may wind up scratching your head and wondering what the hell this movie is even supposed to be.

It's definitely surprising that it's writer/director George Barry's lone venture into filmmaking. I can only imagine that it was when the people who helped Barry finance his project saw this special effect:

that the poor guy was never allowed to work again. It's this scene where Mr. Skeleton Hands says, "There's no flesh left. There's hardly any blood. It's almost like a surgical operation. Great. Cartilage is decaying. They'll fall off one by one," delivering the line like it's not a joke. He leans his head back dejectedly, moaning "I don't think I can stand it" like an actor who never wants to work again. Another victim, a handlebar-mustachioed gangster, nails his big line: "I'm being eaten alive!" But this is mostly about that monstrous bed, a villain made more dastardly by some genuine movie magic. That is if you consider gratuitous munching and panting sounds, suggesting that the titular bed might be both hungry and horny, to be genuine movie magic. I can just imagine sound guys working for hours on getting just the right sounds. There's also enough warbling noises that I wondered if there was something wrong with the audio in the version of this that I watched.

Plenty of memorable moments here. There's the weirdness of the guy behind the painting, a guy who also narrates because he's in the 1970s and was told he had to. There's pretentious blood letting, a wacky bucket of chicken, and a painfully long scene where a woman crawls away from the bed with red paint on the back of her jeans. There's a wonderfully weird dream sequence, a shot of an old woman reading a magazine about lesbians, and a great death scene involving a preacher. There's even an orgy, one accompanied by carnival music.

Oh, the special effects that show the bed beginning the digestion process? I'm not sure if I needed to see them fifty or sixty times, but they really were something else. And how about that Pepto Bismol product placement?

Ok, maybe the movie was a little too jokey.

Anyway, this is worth checking out for fans of strange movies although you will start to wonder why so many people are willing to sleep in a bed without knowing what those sheets have been through.

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