• Death Bed: The Bed That Eats

    Released by: Cult Epics
    Released on: June 3rd, 2014.
    Director: George Barry
    Cast: Demene Hall, Rusty Russ, Julie Ritter, Linda Bond
    Year: 1977
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    The Movie:

    Completed in 1977 by film school student George Barry, Death Bed: The Bed That Eats sees its first official Blu-ray release (following a DVD release back in 2003) more than thirty years after it was made thanks to Cult Epics.

    The film begins as we learn the unfortunate plight of a tiny man trapped in the wall of a strange cabin, behind the bizarre painting that adorns it. The man behind the painting serves as our narrator and explains that he's been trapped there ever since he died, sixty years ago. The one room cabin is also home to a mammoth four-post bed, which the captive man is forced to listen to. The bed is noisy, and it snores through the night and into the day where every once in a while… it will eat someone.

    We're then privy to a couple of young lovebirds that break into the cabin in hopes of using the bed to make hot young love upon. First, however, they lay out a spread of red wine, apples, and some delicious fried chicken. As things between the pair get hot and heavy, the bed gets hungry and starts to slowly suck down the grub and then follows this up by eating the couple themselves. We see all this happen as yellow foam erupts over the top of the bed and the items, followed by the people, sink down into the bed at which point they’re essentially under water – but this water is a strange shade of yellow. It makes for some really wild, almost psychedelic visuals.

    From here, the man in the wall tells us of how he came to be where he is now and we flashback to the early days of the century as a montage of newspaper headlines spins across the screen (“MUNCHING NOISES HEARD AT NIGHT!” it proclaims in bold text). This bring us back to the present day where we eventually (sort of) learn how the bed came to be what it is and it turns out that it’s actually a byproduct of the forbidden love between a demon and a fair maiden. While all of this is going on a trio of ladies - Diane (Demene Hall), Sharon (Rosa Luxemburg) and Susan (Julie Ritter) - are investigating the house, which doesn’t necessarily sit so well with the bed…

    Okay, so the movie doesn't really make much sense when compared to more traditional narratives, but it's still a really fun ride. The concept is just weird enough to hold your attention and the scenes where the bed ingests its food into its stomach of yellow liquid are both hypnotic and hilarious. The performances are hardly anything to get excited about but the direction is pretty good and at times the movie is reminiscent of a Jean Rollin film, though to be honest, I'm not sure if I can really back that comparison up with anything other than ‘it felt kind of like a creepy French movie.' Like Rollin’s films it dabbles in surrealism and has a dream like atmosphere and seems to concern itself more with visuals than with narrative structure but despite (or perhaps in spite) all of this, the movie works.

    The end result is a totally bizarre film that was based on a dream that the director had, and keeping in mind that that's where it came from, in that regard it is actually quite successful. It really does feel like some sort of freakish nocturnal journey through someone else's subconscious. It won't make sense, in fact, I don't know if it really could or even really should, but the movie is artsy enough and weird enough to entertain your eyes while poking you in the brain with hot little needles of incongruity.


    Death Bed gets a brand new transfer in 1080p high definition framed at 1.33.1 fullframe and it looks excellent, all things considered. Taken from the only known elements it’s to be expected that there would be some scratches and print damage. Cult Epics seems to have taken the same approach here that Kino/Redemption have done with some of their Euro-cult releases in that the picture is presented without a whole lot of massive restoration. As such, expect grain aplenty, some fading here and there and some minor to moderate scratches. The increase in detail over the DVD release is definitely noticeable, however, and you can see this in pretty much every shot. Despite some shots that look a bit more faded than others the colors look quite good, particularly in the scenes in which the titular bed feasts on its victims – lots of bold yellows and reds here help create an otherworldly vibe. Black levels are decent, there aren’t any obvious compression artifacts and there’s not a trace of noise reduction or edge enhancement to complain about.

    The disc also gets a lossless audio upgrade by way of an English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track. There isn’t a ton of surround activity here and occasionally you might pick up on some background hiss but dialogue remains audible and easily discernable throughout the movie and the film’s bizarre score sounds pretty decent here too. An optional DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track is also included but there are no alternate language options or subtitles provided.

    The extras on this release are surprisingly extensive and comprehensive starting with the newly recorded audio commentary featuring filmmaker George Barry and moderated by Nightmare U.S.A. author and Death Bed fan Stephen Thrower (who wrote the liner notes for that original DVD release a decade back, no included with this Blu-ray release). Thrower gets Barry talking right from the start, asking about beginning the film with a completely black screen and then going on to talk with him about the interior and exterior locations used in the picture, the editing and flow of the film and how it implies that there’s another dimension to all of this, and how the optical effects were pulled off on such a low budget. They also discuss the use of the voice over in the movie, how the zoom lens is used for dramatic effect in a few spots, where Barry’s inspiration for the picture came from, how he found the money to make the film and quite a bit more. It’s a good and thorough discussion of the film that provides a pretty solid document of how and why this movie exists in the first place!

    Barry and Thrower get together again for a fifteen minute long featurette called Nightmare USA: A Conversation On The Horror Films Of The 1970’s And 1980’s in which the participants are filmed gathered around a table at a dinner for an informal talk about the independent horror pictures made in this era. The editing is a bit choppy here but it’s a fun talk with Thrower talking about how he got into these movies, why this ‘fucking guy from England’ is all over the extra features for this odd American film, and how so many of these regional genre films have fallen through the cracks (which lead to his writing Nightmare USA). All of this happens while three other people on the side of the frame eat some salad as Thrower does most of the talking while Barry listens on. If this sounds kind of strange, that’d be because it is, but Thrower is an interesting guy and he tells some fun stories here.

    Also on the disc is an eight minute featurette entitled Behind-The-Scenes Of Death Bed In Detroit shot in 2013. This starts off with Barry showing off what’s left of some of the locations that were used in the movie, some of which are in better shape than others, and then winds up with the two of them meeting with cast member Samir Eid, who played one of the gangsters in the movie. Now a restaurateur he talks about how and why he wound up in the movie and what it was like working on the picture. Rounding out the extras are the Original Death Bed Credit Music Track, which shows off the original music used over the film’s opening credits sequence, are a new video Introduction By Stephen Thrower, the original video introduction from the 2003 DVD release by George Barry, menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    Death Bed: The Bed That Eats really is a one of a kind film, a remarkably bizarre work that’s as enthralling as it is completely puzzling. Cult Epics have done a pretty nice job bringing this cinematic oddity to Blu-ray offering up an improved transfer, lossless audio and a pretty solid selection of supplements as well.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 4 Comments
    1. George Barry's Avatar
      George Barry -
      Dear Ian, Thank you for your review of my film and the Rock Shock Pop Death Bed banner cover art too. The Rock Shock Pop Kids may be interested to know, they are the target audience for the Blu-ray extra where Steve Thrower & I talk about films at a coney island. Steve & I had been working on the commentary track, we went out to grab a late dinner, my son, on his own, grabbed his camera. Since Steve had been asking me questions all day, I decided to ask him some questions while we ate. I thought, what should I ask? Then I thought, what would the RSP Kids want/like to know? (Just a small note) There are no 35mm elements for Death Bed. The film was shot in 16mm and never blown up. L & K, George
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      Thanks George! You guys and Cult Epics put out a fine disc - hopefully it does well and finds even more fans.
    1. Gary Banks's Avatar
      Gary Banks -
      This is a great blu ray and I've been savoring it today.
    1. Andrew Monroe's Avatar
      Andrew Monroe -
      It is indeed a wonderful package. We owe George's son a thank-you for grabbing his camera as I loved the chat about indie horror films. The film has a perfect champion in Thrower, love his enthusiasm. I'm thrilled to have it on BD but I'm also keeping my DVD!