AKA The Bed that Eats People. United States. 77 minutes. Directed by George Barry, 1977. Starring Demene Hall, William Russ, Julie Ritter, Rosa Luxemberg, Patrick Spence-Thomas, Dave Marsh, Linda Bond.
Every so often, a film comes along that’s so bad, it crosses over to the other side and becomes…well, if not exactly good, then at least compelling, in some sort of supremely fucked-up way. I don’t like to describe such movies as being “so bad they’re good,” because that takes emphasis away from the fact that they are, undeniably, bad. And yet they are entertaining in and of themselves, as opposed to the sorts of bad movies that make great MST3K fodder; or the sorts of bad movies that have no merit whatsoever, even as the butt of jokes. Troll 2, apart from all the hype, is such a movie; so is Death Bed: The Bed that Eats.
Death Bed: The Bed that Eats is about a demonic bed that eats people–well, actually, it engulfs them in orange foam and then pulls them down into itself, where it dissolves them in a substance we’re supposed to think is digestive acid but looks like ordinary water shot through a pane of orange glass. That’s really all you need to know about this film going into it. There’s a sort-of backstory (involving a demon who falls in love with a young woman, inadvertently leading to the Death Bed’s creation), a sort-of plot (involving another young woman who reminds the Death Bed of the girl it loves) and several sort-of subplots (the most important of which involves “the Artist,” an eccentrically-dressed young man, a victim of the bed somehow resurrected and trapped by it, who lives behind an Aubrey Beardsley drawing and constantly comments on the bed’s behavior). But none of these, in terms of trying to take the various elements of a cinematic production and assemble them into something that’s more than the sum of its parts, are worth much of a damn.
While there are a scant few things writer/director George Barry gets right (such as the surreal nightmare sequences, Stephen Thrower’s score, the occasional bit of cinematography and Patrick Spence-Thomas’s performance as the voice of the Artist), there’s no denying that he gets the vast majority of the film wrong. This script is poor, the acting even worse (except for Spence-Thomas), and don’t even get me started on the effects.
But get real: who needs effective pacing, credible characterization or believable effects when your villain is a demonic bed that makes munching noises when it dissolves its victims and snores when it sleeps? (A bed with sleep apnea?) Or what about those exterior shots of the bed, sequences whose cinematography reminded me of early New Wave music videos? Let’s not forget the fried chicken, the plastic skeleton hands, the orgy sequence or the bed undressing its victims and making itself back up after it’s done killing?
This film’s quality, in objective terms, doesn’t matter. What does matter is its batshit insanity, a quality it keeps up consistently without going too far over the top. I can guarantee you that never in your life have you ever seen a movie quite like Death Bed: The Bed that Eats, and you will probably never will as long as you live. Yes, it’s bad, but it’s never boring.