« Office Love: Behind Closed Doors | Main | Coffee Break »

June 06, 2014

Death Bed: The Bed that Eats

death bed 1.jpg

George Barry - 1977
Cult Epics BD Region 0

It is so easy to get snarky about an independently made, extremely low budget horror movie with a ridiculous premise. As one who has served on a couple of less than professional film crews, I know that making a movie isn't as easy at it looks, and often is tedious work. For that reason, I'm willing to give a small cheer for George Barry for making his one and only feature film.

This is not the kind of film that would have been improved significantly by a bigger budget, better special effects, or more professional actors, although it should be noted that Rusty Russ went on to a still active career as William Russ. But rather than point out some of the films shortcomings, which filmmaker George Barry is willing to do on the commentary track, it should be noted that most of the film was made in 1972, by someone just twenty-three years old at the time, with a budget of only $10,000, in 16mm. Barry might have benefitted from making some shorts prior to producing a feature length film, as the similarly aged Michael Reeves and Stephen Weeks had done before making their debut features, at a time when making a horror movie was the most viable genre for kickstarting a career.

death_bed 2.jpg

This huge, demonically possessed bed has telekinetic powers as well, helpfully opening the doors for potential victims, as well as using the sheets as arms to drag anyone trying to escape. Mostly it seem to be a disguise for a very large stomach of yellow digestive fluids with an appetite for various food, drink, people and even a stray suitcase. There is one kind of funny image of a bottle of Pepto-Bismol floating around. Barry does have a sense of humor about the premise, best shown in some of the vignettes of the bed's past victims.

What may be more interesting is how this film, which never received any kind of release after its completion in 1977, somehow made the jump to a bootleg video that acquired a devoted cult following. Barry took so long to finish the film due to the inconsistencies of self-financing the post production. There are some gaps which neither Barry nor film scholar Stephen Thrower explain. Somehow, Death Bed acquired a life of its own among horror film aficionados, more widely seen initially on VHS tapes made by, shall we say, independent entrepreneurs. I seriously hope George Barry will at least break even on this first official Blu-ray release. In addition to the commentary track by Barry and Thrower, there are two introductions, one by Barry from 2003, and a more recent intro by Thrower made specifically for this release. A conversation between Barry and Thrower, filmed in a Detroit area restaurant sheds more light on the origins of Thrower's book, Nightmare USA, about independent horror movies produced in the Seventies and early Eighties.

Posted by peter at June 6, 2014 07:22 AM