Death Bed: The Bed That Eats Blu-ray Review
Written and directed by George Barry
1977, Region A, 77 minutes, Not rated
Blu-ray released on June 11th, 2014
Demene Hall as Diane
Julie Ritter as Suzan
Rosa Luxemburg as Sharon
Rusty Russ as Sharon's brother
David Marsh as Artist
Once upon a time, in a far away land, a happy yet nameless couple went for a hike in search of the ultimate picnic location. They came across an old abandoned manor in the woods and naturally opted to trespass inside, where they discovered a giant king-sized four poster bed. This irresistibly comfortable piece of furniture proved the perfect spot for a makeout and snack session, but the young lovers got so horny they failed to notice their food items being consumed by the very bed they were resting on. They only realized the strangeness of their situation too late – and were also eaten by this deceptive oasis. While this may initially sound bizarre, everything is quickly explained with the helpful narration of an artist whose spirit is trapped inside a painting that hangs on the wall nearby.
An awkward, exposition-filled series of flashbacks relays the history of the bed, including the tale of a wind demon whose blood was spilled and led to the possession of this furnishing which torments anyone who comes too close. This is followed with a helpful montage in which viewers also learn that this demon's insatiable hunger caused the local community to avoid the location in fear for their lives. Forced on an isolation diet, the bed reluctantly slept until the offending picnic couple awakened its hunger. Jumping ahead, a trio of young ladies on vacation arrives and before long a man with no name shows up, searching for his missing sister. The artist tries to warn them but they are unable to hear his ghostly comments, as they appear to be reserved for the viewing audience. In an odd twist, the bed is apparently afraid of one of the girls and the shenanigans that follow are both silly and, to a much lesser extent, entertaining.
Death Bed: The Bed That Eats is the product of a troubled production that started in 1972 and limped along until 1977, when it was essentially abandoned after failing to score distribution. Three decades later, writer/ director George Barry finally got the film a legitimate release (following a brief bootleg appearance) and genre fans were treated to one of the more bizarre cinematic experiments of the early 1970s. Not everything works, as the tone shifts from one scene to the next resulting in more than a few moments that will leave audiences scratching their heads. There are pacing problems, goofy comedy and clumsy grabs for social relevance that all fall flat, but some blood and nudity will keep viewers watching.
While the film is primarily known to contemporary audiences thanks in large part to a routine from comedian Patton Oswalt, there will undoubtedly be a desire to see what this title is really all about. This is not a deeply introspective piece on the nature of man or a statement against the war or anything that pretentious, but rather it's a straightforward piece about a bed that eats people. Sadly, it is not exactly the easiest task to make an inanimate object menacing and the paltry budget isn't doing anyone any favors either. It's just as difficult for me to recommend this picture as it was for the producers to get it released. There are plenty of better ways to spend 80 minutes of your life than sitting in bed watching movies this incompetently made and for once I'm going to have to suggest going outside. Maybe skinny-dip at the haunted camp or something.
Video and Audio:
The disc boasts the presence of a new HD Transfer, but it should be noted that there does not appear to be any effort at film restoration, as the source material looks every bit as crappy as one might expect for a film of this caliber. The scratches, splices, hair, dirt and stains have never looked sharper than they appear now in stunning high definition! Death Bed is presented in the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio with little to recommend outside of decent colors and natural flesh tones. There are enough other recent examples of ultra low-budget gems getting a surprise polish (The Lost Films of H.G. Lewis) that I am okay with placing this one under my shoe in terms of sloppy quality control.
The default DTS-HD MA 5.1 stereo track is the only audio option and it is serviceable but front-heavy. Dialogue is occasionally muffled under the music, but is generally clear and free from distortion. An original DTS-HD MA 2.0 mono track that is not that radically different is also offered for those inclined. No subtitles are included on this disc.
Starting things off are a pair of introductions that can be selected to play before the film. The first is carried over from the 2003 DVD release and features a few comments from George Barry. New to this release are additional thoughts by Nightmare U.S.A. author Stephen Thrower, recorded in 2013.
An audio commentary with Barry and Thrower offers a glimpse at the convoluted history of this production on its way to an eventual legitimate release. While not the most entertaining discussion ever recorded, it is informative.
Behind the scenes of Death Bed in Detroit (8 minutes) is a shoddy look back at the locations and a visit to a restaurant operated by a former cast member. The attempt is nice, but the execution is lacking.
Nightmare U.S.A. (15 minutes) is another discussion between director and author about the wonders of 1970s horror cinema and the awesomeness of Thrower's Jess Franco book Sadomania!
When his film finally received a video release, George Barry swapped out the music that plays over the closing credits. The original track is included here for purists who require the option.