“Death Bed: The Bed That Eats” [1977]

Death Bed: The Bed That Eats - PosterAs most of you will agree, the 1970s were a great time for weird cinema, but there’s at least one movie that was simply too bizarre to get distribution. Naturally, the idea of “the movie too weird for the 70s” is like catnip to cult cinema fans, due in no small part to the fact that titles like “Zardoz” and “Day of the Dolphin” (tagline: “Unwittingly, he trained a dolphin to kill the president of the United States”) DID get distribution.

None of these movies can hold a candle to “Death Bed: The Bed that Eats,” though. The only film by writer/director/producer George Barry, “Death Bed” was made on a micro-budget around 1977 and unsuccessfully shopped around. That could have been the end of the story, but pirate prints turned up in Europe in the early 80s and screened in sticky-floor cinemas without the knowledge of the director. The spark of the cult had begun, and by the early 2000s, George Barry stumbled into a comment thread about his movie on the Scarlet Street horror forums. Unbeknownst to him, his never-released movie had developed a following, and Barry was able to secure a limited DVD release for his movie twenty-six years after it was made.

“Death Bed” suffers from what we’ll call Unique Narrative Challenges. Most of the story is told using a voice-over from a character who is trapped inside of a painting*–not exactly the most engaging way to move a story along. It’s also crammed full of jarring tonal shifts that make you unsure of whether you’re watching a black comedy or a sincere work of psychedelia. The backstory of the killer bed’s creation in the wake of a failed demonic seduction is really quite lyrical, but then you remember you’re watching a movie about a piece of furniture that eats people.

*It’s pretty clear that this character is meant to be decadent-era illustrator Aubrey Beardsley, whose work had a new surge of popularity in the late 60s/early 70s. “Death Bed” is even cooler if you assume that it’s an attempt at a highly-symbolic Aubrey Beardsley biopic.

Possibly the single greatest challenge faced by the movie is that it’s the only body count flick** that features not one but TWO inanimate objects as main characters: the bed and the narrator-painting. The best way to get the flavor of the movie “too weird for the 70s” is to watch a clip–so let’s do that!

**That I know of, anyway. Scholars: feel free to weigh in on this assertion!

4-minute “Death Bed – The Bed That Eats” from Tenebrous Kate on Vimeo.

[Adapted from material originally presented in October 2013 at Kevin Geeks Out: All About Evil]

2 thoughts on ““Death Bed: The Bed That Eats” [1977]”

  1. We just saw this a couple of weeks ago – I need to find time to write it up – and I thought it was just about the greatest movie ever made. We were in absolute hysterics during the incredibly prolonged scene where one victim almost escapes.

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