In a cellar (all that remains of a great mansion) lurks a demonic bed. Anyone who lies on it will be eaten (and being eaten involves being surrounded by yellow foam and dragged down into yellow liquid limbo and dissolved). Trapped behind his own painting is the ghost of artist Aubrey Beardsley. He witnesses the bed’s depredations (and his narration explains the plot to us), but there is nothing he can do to stop the evil. That, more or less, is the plot. The 80 minutes meander along, and the…story is padded out with lots of scenes (some quite humorous) of one victim after another being devoured. Made for next-to-nothing, and looking it, Death Bed nonetheless benefits from some interesting camera movement and startling production design (especially of the bed itself). There is almost no direct sound, and with the majority of the story explained to us in voice-over, there is a distinct resemblance to the films of Doris Wishman (see A Night to Dismember). However, the off-kilter fairy tale qualities of the story, and some very striking imagery (especially at the end) raise Death Bed well above Wishman’s so-bad-it’s-great level. Fans of really obscure horror should check this out.
The sound is mono, except for the new music provide by Stephen Thrower and Ossian Brown, which is stereo, and that combination is a bit odd. There is some background noise, but more often than not the film is close to being silent. The limitations of the sound are not so much a result of the transfer as the low, low, low budget and age of the source materials.
As with the sound, so with the picture. The film was shot on 16 mm, and so the picture is unavoidably grainy and murky. There is some damage to the print (notably a vertical line 22 minutes in) and dirt comes and goes. Again, it’s close to mirraculous that the mnovie exists in any form at all, so quibbling over the fact that it doesn’t measure up to Superbit is just silly. No edge enhancement problems, though!
Author/musician Stephen Thrower provides the liner notes, and director George Barry does a brief introduction. Both cover a lot of the same ground — mostly how the film got made, and what happened to it afterwards, but this is a fascinating little tale, and Barry is amusingly self-deprecating. The menu’s main page is animated and scored.
A curious release, quite engaging in its own, torqued little way. Cult Epics deserves kudos for restoring a small piece of horror history to us.
Special Features List
- Introduction by director George Barry
- Liner Notes