Death Bed: The Bed That Eats/Review
From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
In recent years, thanks to the often ignorant internet community, exploitation films have become subjects for mockery. Sure, there are ridiculous and awful exploitation flicks out there, but sometimes they aren't as bad as what pop culture tries to tell us. Take a look at Plan 9 From Outer Space for instance, I don't think it's that terrible. Sure, it has bad cinematography, special effects, etc., but I still enjoy watching it and Plan 9 itself has an interesting message about world peace as well. This reminds me of another exploitation film that's become a cult classic and a subject of jokes recently, it's Death Bed: The Bed That Eats. I heard about this film for the first time on an internet movie review show called The Cinema Snob. In that video, the Snob (Brad Jones) tells us that this is not a generic horror film, but instead it's an art film that has slow pacing. Also, standup comedian Patton Oswalt has his own comedy bit about this movie on one of his albums as well. These factors made me want to see the film...and yes, I enjoyed watching it no matter what people said. I'll tell you reasons in the next few minutes. But, as always, let's begin with the plot itself.
The film is divided into 4 parts (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Just Desserts) and they tell story chronogically, but sometimes there's a flashback and revelation of a backstory there and there...so let me re-order events that take place in this film. In 1897, a demon from a tree falls in love with a girl and decides to build a bed for her. He lures her into the bed and they have sex together. Unfortunately, the girl dies and our poor demon dropped his tear of blood on the bed. This made the bed somehow inherit an evil force. From that point on, every ten years, the evil bed wakes up and eats a victim's body. It has eaten everybody, from kids to the elderly for many decades and there's only one victim that "survived" the brutality of the bed. He's an artist who's supposed to be eaten by the bed, but the bed decides to lock him behind his painting, so he's stuck there and has been watching many victims get killed on the bed again and again. In the present, there are three girls who decide to come to the bed for whatever reason. What the artist doesn't know is that this is the last day our demon bed will live.
Before we go any further, let me explain the death bed first. It looks nothing like that bed in the original A Nightmare On Elm Street and it doesn't have giant teeth neither. How does the bed eat its victims? It slowly absorbs the victim's body, by a yellow acid bath. In case the victim tries to escape, it has a magical power to use clothes as a rope to grab the victim and drag him/her to the bed. There's an infamous scene in which we see a woman slowly crawling out of the bed after she is bitten by it, then the bed uses clothes to drag her back again and then it eats her. What's so infamous about it? Well, it lasts almost 4 minutes! This raises the question whether we should qualify Death Bed as an artsy horror film or a film that has lots of unintentional comedy.
On the artsy side, the film has many surreal aspects. For instance, there's a scene in which a guy's hands becomes a skeleton since they are dragged into the yellow acid. He's still alive after that and shows no pain (In fact, I think nobody in this film shows their pain and fear at all.). Then there's a painter stuck behind his own painting. He's not hungry, he doesn't want to pee and he has been sitting there for several years. His main purpose in the film is to serve as a narrator in this film and tell us what the bed thinks, what happened years earlier and his opinion about what's going on. Also, many characters in the film don't "speak", but use "sounds from their mind" to tell us what they think about what's going on instead. This is weird and an interesting kind of storytelling.
And what about comedy aspect of the film? Well, there are many comedic moments in there. Some are intentional, but I'm pretty sure some are supposed to be taken seriously, but it turns out to be a joke. For instance, in the beginning of the film, there's a couple who decide to have sex on the bed in this abandoned house. Of course, they bring food for their romantic date as well, like an apple and a bucket of chicken! Yeah, because when I think of bringing food for my girlfriend, the first choice that comes to my mind is Original Recipe Chicken from KFC. Actually, there are many hilarious scenes in this film. Like the bed is drinking Pepto-Bismol from a victim's luggage, the bed "jerks off" while a girl is naked, an elderly victim is reading a newspaper about "Oral Lesbian" (with a full naked lesbian photo on a cover) before she gets killed, and, my favorite one, two rich guys from the 1900's are playing cards on the evil bed. It turns out that the cards in his hand say "Haha, you are dead". So he asks another guy "Is this some sort of a joke?". Then camera zooms into his 5th card and it says "no joker". When the bed tries to eat another guy, he pulls out his gun and shoots the bed. It's so over-the-top, you can laugh without feeling guilty.
Whether it's an art-horror film or horror comedy film, I don't think this is worst film of all time like they say. There are flaws in the plot here and there, but I enjoyed watching it regardless. Wait a minute, did I tell you that it has been shelved for more than 20 years? Well, the director made this film in 1972, then edited it in 1977 and it was almost finished (there's no ending credits in the film and there's no music during the opening credits). Unfortunately, he couldn't find a distributor for this film since the typical Slasher films had became popular at the time. Fast forward to late 80's, he gave the master print of Death Bed to a video company in hopes that he could release it. Sadly, he didn't have enough money to do it, but the video company itself actually pirated the film and Death Bed entered the bootleg circuit. We had to wait until 2004 in which an official DVD of Death Bed was released. The picture quality isn't impressive (it looks more like a Betacam transfer of the film instead of brand new remaster), but luckily there's a brand new Blu-Ray of the film which is a remastered version. Check it out and don't forget to bring your friends. You will have a great time and one unique experience.