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Jan 11

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Review of Death Bed: The Bed That Eats

Death Bed: The Bed That EatsI finally saw, Death Bed: The Bed That Eats. Long time readers may think that I’ve lost my mind. Didn’t I write Death Bed: the Bed that Eats almost four years ago?! But that was based on the only copy I could find at the time: the DoktorSick version that was edited to make the film look as silly as possible. At that time, I noted, “Death Bed is a cross between art, horror, and fetish films.” That’s still largely true. But I missed that it is at core a comedy.

This makes Patton Oswalt’s stand-up routine about the film all the more pathetic. The film establishes itself as a comedy at the very beginning. The bed eats an apple and then returns it to the top of the bed with the core intact. Many similar sight gags follow. The film gets a bit bogged down at the end of the second act and part of the third act. I assume this is because the writer-director, George Barry, felt the need to make it a feature film, instead of the hour-long film it really should be cut to.

Death Bed Is Great to Look At

What’s most remarkable about Death Bed: The Bed That Eats is just how visually stunning it is. The camera work is great. The lighting is superior to the vast majority of low-budget student films. And the variety of images is far greater than anything I can think of outside of maybe Kundun. It would make a great stoner film at very least.

But there is much else to like about the film. The acting, for example, is really quite good — especially for a student film.

Is it a Bad Movie?

I understand why people laugh at the film. The story is hard to follow and so requires constant narration of an artist who has been consigned to eternity inside what I assume is one of his own paintings. And even then the plot isn’t clear. A demon wanted to make love to a woman on this bed, but she died, and so the bed came to life and needs to eat from time to time. Eventually, the demon falls asleep so that the artist can explain how to destroy the bed, which involves reanimating the woman. She and the demon copulate and the bed bursts into flame.

But none of that really matters. It’s just an excuse for a number of bits, the best being when a young man tries to kill the bed by stabbing it. Unfortunately, his hands get pulled into the bed, and when he removes them, they are skeletons. It’s hilarious — but even more, it is so bizarre. I would gladly watch anything that George Barry wants to put on screen. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, he never has again and is now pushing 70 years old.

The Evil Medved brothers

Death Bed: The Bed That Eats suffers from what I think of as the Medved brothers syndrome: the idea that it is fun to watch “bad” films. But somehow, it is always low-budget films that are “bad.” This seems to be because what people mistake for bad is really just idiosyncratic. They will watch the most mediocre, witless film and think nothing of it because it is just like so many other mediocre, witless films.

Bed With Still Living Foot - Toni Allen

So isn’t Death Bed: The Bed That Eats bad? It must be! George Barry must have been trying to make Captain America: Civil War and just couldn’t hack it, right?! Wrong. It never occurs to these idiots that Barry made a film that is unlike anything they’ve ever seen. It’s a work of art. And despite its low budget, it is technically competent. You don’t need to like it, of course. But you really are a philistine if you don’t respect it for the idiosyncratic art that it is.

And if you give it a chance, I really do think you will enjoy it.

Permanent link to this article: http://franklycurious.com/wp/2017/01/11/death-bed/

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5 comments

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  1. James Fillmore

    Tarantino used to say there was no such thing as a guilty pleasure when it came to enjoying art. I love that sentiment! Of course, what he means is, “the fun silly movies I like are great, and the fun silly movies you like are stupid,” but it’s still a good sentiment.

    Oswalt is funny and a good actor, but he annoys me. He’s big into the new Nerd Chic, which is embraced a lot by rich successful people. Nobody who’s a poor, social misfit relishes being labeled a “nerd.”

  2. Elizabeth

    Everyone knows that Twilight is a bad film. So is John Carter. Are they fun bad films? No because the wasted money depresses us.

    1. James Fillmore

      Well, some people enjoyed them. There’s a little seaside town in Washington state, and this is serious fundamentalist Christian country, where the “Twilight” stuff was set. It’s the kind of jobs-all-gone place where Harry Potter is seen as suspicious witchcraft. This town got a huge boost from Twilight tourism. So that was a good thing.

      I judge big budget movies more harshly than low-budget ones. Possibly because I’ve scraped together a $20,000 film, and I know how easily one mistake can f up the whole plan. A “John Carter” could have been good. There’s no earthly (pun!) reason why it wasn’t, except for idiot studio execs who’re terrified of doing anything that isn’t pre-focus-tested (aka, bland and boring). When I see a big-budget movie I didn’t enjoy, I feel ripped off. A low-budget movie I didn’t like, I just won’t watch it again.

      It’s kind of like the difference between a disappointing meal in an expensive restaurant and a small, family-run place. I’m never mad at the small restaurant for a meal I don’t like. Clearly, some people do. If I spent more than $15 for the meal, and I didn’t like it, I LOATHE that restaurant. (And, unfairly, anyone who likes it!)

  3. donosaur

    I watch a ton of movies. It’s like the cartoon of the woebegone, obviously beaten down by the real world guy in the bookstore saying to the clerk, “Fiction. Fiction by all means!” Movies have always provided escape as well as entertainment for the masses; remember the final scene in “The Purple Rose of Cairo,” where the tears on Mia Farrow’s face eventually disappear under cinema’s spell? My life’s considerably better than Cecilia’s–most lives are, but sinking into a film, or for that matter, a novel, is still a pleasure for me. Thanks for once again mentioning a movie I’ve never heard of before, but will probably like.

    1. Frank Moraes

      You described where I’m at. Every time I stick my head up to pay attention to politics, I’m terrified. Check out today’s movie — at 11:05.

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