Death Bed: The Bed That Eats

Death Bed: The Bed That Eats
Death Bed: The Bed That Eats
Directed by George Barry
Produced by George Barry
Written by George Barry
Distributed by Cult Epics (USA; DVD)
Release date(s) October 26, 1977
Running time 80 min.
Country United States
Language English

Death Bed: The Bed That Eats is a 1977 one-off horror film written, produced, and directed by George Barry.



A large, black, four-poster bed, possessed by a demon, is passed from owner to owner. The Demon was a tree, who became a breeze and seemingly fell in love with a woman he blew past. The demon then took human form and conjured up a bed. While he was making love with the woman she died and his eyes bled onto the bed, causing it to become possessed. Those who come into contact with the bed are frequently consumed by it (victims are pulled into what is apparently a large chamber of digestive fluids beneath the sheets). The bed demonstrates a malevolent intelligence as well as some psychokinetic and limited telepathic abilities to manipulate dreams.

A running commentary or chorus is supplied by the ghost — if that is the correct word — of an artist (who would appear to be Aubrey Beardsley, though this is never stated directly) trapped behind a painting on the wall.

The story moves through various time periods during the bed's existence. The movie begins in a setting near the 1940s where a young couple attempt to break into the dilapidated mansion where the bed is stored. The bed is roused from its slumber by their attempts and uses its psychokinetic abilities to deny them entry into any other door but the cellar where it is kept. The couple settle in and begin making love while the bed first helps itself to their picnic lunch of apples, fried chicken and a bottle of wine while they are occupied. Finally the bed draws its curtains on the oblivious couple and sounds of a struggle and then a munching noise is heard.

The artist ghost, viewing this from the extradimensional limbo within his painting laments his inability to help the couple, apparently only being able to communicate with the living when the bed slumbers. He then comments on the bed's petulant fury after its first meal in decades, chiding it on having eaten anyone who might have moved it to an urban center. In a fit of pique, the bed uses its psychokinesis to further damage its home, reducing the large mansion to ruins over time leaving only its cellar walls intact.

As the bed settles down it dreams of finding itself in a city and gorging at its leisure. The artist seems privy to its dreams, and comments on its base nature. An amusing montage of imagined newspaper clips of disappearances occurs in the bed's mind.

Time passes and a trio of young women find their way to the estate. The driver (Diane) informs the audience that her lawyer friend is managing this estate and asked her to go check it out. Diane invited a friend of hers (Sharon) and a girl from her office invited herself along (Suzan). Much of the dialog occurs as voiceovers told in retrospect by the characters. In fact even much of the spoken dialog does not always seem to synch up with the characters mouths. The bed is awoken by their arrival, but is seemingly revolted/hurt by Sharon's presence to the point of bleeding internally. The artist notices this and wonders why the bed would be so reluctant to feed after so long. While the girls explore the area the artist muses over a possible answer in the bed's list of victims. The artist possesses a trinket from each of the victims, possibly given as gifts from the bed which he speculates kept his spirit around for company. The story of the bed's history is told, and each of its significant victims is mentioned, which include:

  • A priest.
  • A wealthy old woman.
  • A child.
  • A snake-oil salesman who had used the bed as a "sexual revitalisation cure" for impotence. The bed had held off in eating him and his women until the man arranged for a great orgy to be held, at which time the bed enjoyed its greatest feast of at least 6 people simultaneously.
  • The artist himself, consumed after finishing a portrait of himself in what he knew to be his death bed as he was dying from consumption. He wonders if his cursed existence is due to the bed's sadism and disappointment in his sickly taste, or out of some sort of vanity.
  • A pair of criminals hiding out at the estate. Before eating them the bed transmuted their playing cards to read "Haha. You. Are. Dead. No joker!" This encounter also demonstrated that that bed was not obviously bothered by being shot.

Then the artist realizes that Sharon's eyes are identical to the eyes of the woman responsible for the bed's existence and even such a creature thinks twice before eating someone resembling its mother. However, the bed's nature quickly overthrows its revulsion. While Diane and Sharon explore the grounds and prepare a picnic, the bed molests Suzan mentally in her dreams as she takes a nap, and then physically before eating her. Amusingly, the bed then helps itself to the Pepto-Bismol Suzan had in her purse.

When the other girls notice her missing, they search for her. When they cannot find her, Sharon agrees to drive back to town to find her on the way, or to get help to look for her. Meanwhile Diane remains behind in case Suzan comes back. While napping the bed invades her dreams and terrorizes her. When Diane wakes the bed tries to consume her, but she seems to escape with her legs severely burned by its acid. As she very slowly crawls across the floor to the door, Sharon is returning the estate (additionally Suzan's brother is also coming to the area looking for his sister). Before Diane can crawl out of the door, the bed uses one of its drapes like a lasso to drag her back. Sharon comes in to find Diane being eaten, and is unable to help her. The bed tries to sadistically toy with her by opening and closing the cellar door, but the artist remarks that her mind is too traumatized to register such petty cruelty.

Suzan's brother arrives and finds Sharon nearly catatonic. The bed regurgitates an eyeball to give him a clue to their fate. The brother attempts to stab the bed with a knife only to find his hands engulfed and absorbed down to the bone. Now with both of the survivors in shock, the bed takes a nap.

During this time the artist realizes his chance to speak, and using Sharon since her mind is now weaker, bids her to construct some ritual circles both inside and outside the cellar. By the time the bed awakes to the peril its power is contained. However, the artist reveals that he lied about an aspect of the spell to Sharon: as it takes effect it will consume her life. She dies, but in doing so resurrects the bed's "Mother" from her grave and transporting the bed to its birthplace in the woods. The final part of the ritual involves the Mother coupling with Suzan's brother, as "what was made in an act of coupling shall be unmade by it." the bed ignites and explodes, wailing in impotent fury, and the artist's soul is released as the movie ends.


The film was not officially released until 2003, and in the introduction to the DVD edition, Barry claims to have essentially forgotten he had made it. It now has considerable cult film status.

In popular culture

  • Comedian Patton Oswalt discusses the film extensively on his album Werewolves and Lollipops, referring to it as "Death Bed: The Bed That Eats People" and joking that it has inspired him to write Rape Stove: The Stove That Rapes People.

External links

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