Saturday, September 13, 2014

"Death Bed": Will George Barry's 1977 campy "zero budget" horror film become a cult classic?

I found “Death Bed: The Bed that Eats”, a campy horror film made from 1972-1977 (at the Gar Wood mansion in Detroit) by George Barry on Netflix. The director offers an introduction where he explains the history of the film, which he says he couldn’t find distribution for.  One problem was the cost of converting 16 mm to 35,  But in the 1980s, with the introduction of the VCR, the film was often pirated, and he found out about the copies in chat rooms when the Internet took off in the 1990s.  The DVD was released in 2002.  Does this film show up as a midnight horror show sometimes?

The plot is simple.  A young man (rather attractive) lives inside a painting, having passed from consumption, in an old house, near a canopy bed.  That sounds like Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, doesn’t it.  Everyone who comes into the use and uses the bed gets consumed by it, most often by a yellow foamy blob (again, “The Blob” was another classic).  There are variations, which the narrator (the young man) explains in rather loose narrative. One time, a woman is asked to eat a lunch which a maggot has started to consumer in front of her.  The low-budget special effects are hokey and rather hard to characterize.

The film does demonstrate the idea of "zero base budgeting". 
Eventually two women and a brother test the curse.  The young man (William Russ) is attractive enough to have something to lose when he “gets it”.  His lower legs and forearms are consumed.  You could say, “they shaved his arms”.  Indeed, all that is left of his hand and forearm is the skeleton, and the pieces start falling off. 

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