Sunday, October 30, 2011

DEATH BED; THE BED THAT EATS (1977) - not just insult fodder for hipsters & not to be confused with "Lobotomy Armoire: The Armoire That Lobotomizes"

I think we can all agree that Patton Oswalt is a comedic genius. While the genius part was no doubt a result of hard work and intellect, the seeds of comedy were already built into the very fact of his existence. How so, you ask? Well, a guy with those looks and that brain was named Patton by his parents. I’m guessing his father was expecting a physically imposing figure that would defend the American fatherland at all costs, either by force or through words. Instead, out plopped a squat smartass that talks about his balls and does it better than anybody.

It should come as little surprise that Patton would take a humorous slant on a movie called Death Bed: The Bed that Eats. It’s a title that is ample fodder for a soldier of comedy (maybe the Patton label is not so misplaced after all). However, that does not mean he is necessarily dismissing the movie (although he probably would if he bothered to watch it). After all, you can make fun of something and still like it. Humor is not simply meant to destroy, like a jock pointing at the kid in a wheelchair across a crowded high school hall and yelling out “HEY RETARD YOU GOT A RETARD GO-KART AND IT IS GAY”. Unfortunately, people are quick to glom on to something being pegged as lame or unpopular (and vice versa), and since Patton sets trends, people follow in lockstep, taking direct orders that were never meant to be orders nor be taken directly.

Folks, I’m a movie nerd (shocking, I know), and this was never more clear to me then when I first heard Patton’s bit about Death Bed. He was talking about how difficult it is to get a screenplay filmed, yet a movie about a killer bed managed to get produced (although it was never released until much later). He tells the joke under the assumption that the audience had never heard of the movie, yet my initial reaction to the bit was “Hey, I LIKE that movie…I don’t know if I can get on board with this.” Then I thought to myself, “boy, I'm a fucking nerd”. I quickly realized that I should be able to laugh along without letting my nerdiness getting in the way. It would be stupid for me to think that Patton Oswalt is an asshole just because he doesn’t exalt Death Bed like I do (although he might if he actually watched it, though I doubt it...oh, and "exalt" is a strong word). Everyone wants to be part of a club that shits on certain things and praises other things as hot shit. Personally, I would never want to be a member of a club that would only have other people that think exactly like me for members. I may have screwed up that quote. Whatevs.

Now, I know what you’re thinking; surely a movie about a bed running around eating people can’t be very good. It sounds like a sad knockoff of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (although the three sequels could already be described as such, including the third movie that stars George Clooney’s mullet and tomatoes and George Clooney, in that order). Alas, it is something entirely different. I once described it as a skid row (not the band dumbass) Grimm's fairy tale that is filtered through the mind of a dying Jean Cocteau stricken with dementia. Maybe that doesn’t exactly clarify things, so let me attempt to explain why this bed eats people. After all, every character in a drama should have some sort of motivation, whether a human being or a piece of antisocial furniture.

You see, once upon a time, a demon living among the trees noticed a beautiful maiden below. Enchanted, he transformed into a breeze, so he could brush up against her, and eventually he fell in love with her. Hoping to consummate their relationship, he took a convincing human form, with only his eyes of blood giving him away. He built a bed that they could make sweet demon love upon (“sweet demon love” might be a KISS song, for the record). They did indeed “consummate their relationship”, but she could not withstand the force of his demon package and died (I’m reading between the lines here). The demon was so stricken with grief that his eyes swelled up and cracked, and traces of blood dripped from his eyes and directly on to the bed. As we all know (well, those of us that pay attention to heavy metal lyrics), the blood tears of a demon give life to inanimate objects, and things that are living need to eat in order to stay alive.

Now that the movie is set up and everything makes sense, we follow a group of ladies that explore the estate where the bed resides (one of those deals where they inherited the blah blah whatever). They are eaten, one by one, as they eventually find themselves on the bed for some reason or another (it doesn’t move around or anything; it gets its digestive enzymes going when someone sits down and then sucks them in). The brother of one of the girls comes looking for her and ends up getting the flesh and muscle dissolved off of his hands by the bed, leaving him with two skeleton hands (which looks rad in a surreal dimestore Halloween kinda way). While this is going on, we are treated to flashbacks that include the origin story, past matricide (he he…get it? Never mind), and the curious case of a sickly painter who, once upon a time, decided to lie on the bed and paint. The bed doesn’t eat him, but instead sticks him in the wall, hidden behind one of his own paintings (his painting of the killer bed, fittingly). Apparently unable to escape or even speak, he serves as the narrator (I guess he has nothing better to do sitting there in the wall all day), trying to explain everything while also warning potential victims to no avail (it’s hard to warn someone when you can only speak in interior voice over).

If this all sounds like a bunch of pretentious horseshit, keep in mind that you probably came in expecting a bunch of stupid (read: unpretentious) horseshit. At the very least, it surprises. To put it another way, here is an ugly fairy tale for the hopeless, a rotting fable filled with scuzzy magic. Its major failing is that it operates as a short story clumsily stretched out to novella length, like a great obscure literary work awkwardly translated to a different medium. Regardless, the director’s balls clearly outweigh both the budget and the cynicism that most audience members might bring to the table, and I’ll take balls over “taste” most every day of the week.

P.S. This is post#10 in the Lazy Baker countdown to Halloween. One more coming...


  1. Teehee...matricide. Well played my friend.

    Although I have no desire to ever watch this movie again. NOBODY TALKS TO ONE ANOTHER! All the dialogue is dubbed over one character at a time, making the 79 or so minute running time feel like decades. I appreciate some of the weird humor (montage!) but at the end of the day, give me The Refrigerator when it comes to household objects that want to kill you.

  2. @ Emily
    It's SURREAL! It's supposed to be like that. He he.

    Have you seen Attack of the Killer Refridgerator? That's the other killer fridge movie (but you probably figured that out). It's sort of a crappy shot on VHS short, but it's amusing. I wouldn't rush out to watch it.