“I’ve been imprisoned behind my painting, in limbo, for 60 years now since my death.” Like a child in a closet peering at things he’s not allowed to see, a young artist stares out from behind a picture he drew of his own deathbed. Neither dead nor alive himself, he watches as the demon-seed bed devours hapless victims in a crunchy blood-mad feast of cheap thrills and man-eating (not to mention naked woman-eating) mattresses.
Deathbed: The Bed That Eats was made in 1977 by local filmmaker George Barry when he was in his 20s. A dream about an engulfing bed inspired him to try his hand at a feature horror flick, but the film he ended up with was just too weird for distributors to handle. After years of trying to get it picked up, he gave up, until a couple of years ago, when he discovered a pirated version of the film, complete with a perplexed, yet intrigued, following.
After all these years, Cult Epics has released the first official DVD of Deathbed (unrated and uncensored), which will be shown at a free, intimate multi-monitor screening this Friday in Hamtramck’s Urban Break Coffee House (as a special horrific treat in 4FR’s ongoing Rare Science Fiction Triple Feature series).
And this is no ordinary bedtime romp. Classic deadpan horror flick lingo like, “What’s a matta’, baby? There’s nothing to be afraid of,” meets with the tragi-poetic origin of the bed — a thing brought to life by a demon’s seduction of a young maiden reading by the water-side. Featuring a cast made up of locals and Torontonians, you just might see someone you know in here, like Dave Marsh (notorious rock critic for Creem magazine) as the artist (inspired by artist Aubrey Beardsley).
The bed itself (modeled after The Great Bed of Ware) is an imposing medieval monstrosity with a lascivious giggle and very bad table manners. In a swirling, bubbling amber bath, the bed crunches and munches meal after meal as the hapless victims hit the hay. Barry adds peculiar touches that leave you with a crinkle in your forehead, like sexy shots of the bed accompanied by sleazy saxophone sounds, a dream sequence with an enormous winged tropical cockroach (pilfered from a Wayne State University lab) crawling over green goo, and Russ Meyer-influenced raucous sexploits that meet with gruesome conclusions.
Deathbed is a lost-and-found disturbing delicacy that any cult film connoisseur must witness to feel complete.
Showing at the Roseville Theatre.
Anita Schmaltz writes about film for Metro Times. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.