Tag Archives: George Barry

213. DEATH BED: THE BED THAT EATS (1977)

“People have asked me if I realized how odd or strange the story was. Then and now, I never thought of it [that way]—as a slightly offbeat story, perhaps—but I’ve always thought of it as a normal story.”–George Barry, 2003 DVD introduction to Death Bed: The Bed That Eats

DIRECTED BY:  George Barry

FEATURING: Rosa Luxemburg, William Russ (as Rusty Russ), Dave Marsh, voice of Patrick Spence-Thomas

PLOT: A ghost trapped in a chamber behind a painting relates the story of his companion, a bed who eats all those who lie on it. The bed was brought to life by a demon’s tears and is tied to the spirit that birthed it. Several young people stumble upon the bed and are consumed by it, until one girl arrives who, with the ghost’s help, has the power to defeat it.

Still from Death Bed: the Bed That Eats (1977)

BACKGROUND:

  • George Barry began shooting Death Bed in 1972, but did not complete the film until 1977.
  • Death Bed was the only move credit for most of the cast and crew, including director Barry. One notable exception is William Russ (billed here as Rusty Russ), who went on to a long career as a character actor, with over 100 appearances in movies and TV shows.
  • Barry tried to sell the completed film but could not find a distributor willing to shoulder the expense of blowing the film up from 16 millimeter to 32 millimeter. He gave up his attempts to find a distributor in the early 1980s and opened a bookstore instead. Then, while surfing a horror fan forum one night in the early 2000s, he discovered people discussing his forgotten film. Barry learned that an unscrupulous English company had screened the film and released an unlicensed VHS tape, which was then bootlegged and circulated by collectors. Discovering there was now some interest in Death Bed as a cult item, Barry was able to secure an actual official premiere and a DVD release in 2004, more than 25 years after the film had been completed.

INDELIBLE IMAGE: While shots of the bed’s digestive system in action are certainly tempting, the take home image involves the man whose hands are reduced to Halloween props after he unwisely digs into the hungry mattress.

THREE WEIRD THINGS: Man behind the painting; Pepto Bismal in a bed’s belly; fleshless phalanges

WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: A horror movie where the antagonist is a bed would be strange enough. Death Bed, however, is even stranger; a mix of exploitation tropes, fairy tale poetry, black comedy gags, and arthouse pretensions, with deadpan amateur actors sleepwalking their way through a script that takes as many weird turns as that dyspeptic dream you had when you feel asleep after eating too much fried chicken and drinking too much red wine.


Clips from Death Bed: The Bed That Eats

COMMENTS: began filming Eraserhead in California in Continue reading 213. DEATH BED: THE BED THAT EATS (1977)

LIST CANDIDATE: DEATH BED: THE BED THAT EATS (1977)

Death Bed: The Bed That Eats has been placed on the List of the 366 Weirdest Movies ever made. Please visit the official Certified Weird entry. Comments have been closed on this post.

DIRECTED BY: George Barry

FEATURING: Demene Hall, Rusty Russ, Julie Ritter, Linda Bond, Patrick Spence-Thomas

PLOT: Across four meal-themed segments, visitors to an abandoned house are eaten by the titular bed. Meanwhile, a former victim imprisoned behind a painting provides running commentary on the bed’s checkered past and strange habits.

WHY IT MIGHT MAKE THE LIST: A horror movie about a killer bed? That’s kind of weird. But when it’s filled with nonstop voiceover relaying dense bed-related mythology, actors who are less energetic than a cast of mannequins, and incongruous Foley effects like the repeated sound of teeth crunching into an apple, then Death Bed has a definite shot at making the List.

COMMENTS: If it were anywhere near as risibly schlocky and straightforward as its title, Death Bed would probably be indistinguishable from the mass of movies about killer houses, animals, or furniture. But George Barry, the film’s writer, director, and producer (who, incidentally, never worked on another movie), had a unique vision, albeit an incomprehensible one. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell whether Death Bed is supposed to be low-budget horror, a pretentious art film, or some misbegotten hybrid of the two. It ranges in quality from bad to totally unwatchable, but it never goes the expected route.

The movie is about a killer bed, yes, but that bed has a very chatty British companion tucked away behind a nearby wall. Described only as “the artist,” he’s the ghost of a tuberculosis patient once consumed by the bed, and he narrates large chunks of the film, whether launching vicious tirades at the bed or jumping into jokey flashbacks about the bed’s exploits that stop the flimsy plot cold in its tracks. The artist also attempts to explain the bed’s convoluted origins—which involve a demon trapped in a tree and a young woman whose corpse has never decomposed—but these stories invariably raise more questions than they answer, especially when they’re invoked in order to bring about the film’s bloody, explosive resolution.

Death Bed‘s present-day narrative is split into four parts; the first, “Breakfast,” is unrelated to Continue reading LIST CANDIDATE: DEATH BED: THE BED THAT EATS (1977)