No, this is not a remake of 1977’s Death Bed: The Bed That Eats. Yes, this is a WHOLLY new horror story about mysterious deaths that occur because of a deadly connection to bedroom furniture. Bed Of The Dead is a real, 100% serious thriller produced by the same team responsible for Bite, so that should clue you in on the expected amount of zaniness here. Yet, I guarantee it’ll be infinitely straighter than you’re expecting, as writers Cody Calahan and Jeff Maher spend zero time fucking around with generics. This is a uniquely twisted slice of freakishly-fresh horror that makes its bed and kills in it too, never abandoning sinister chills for anything cheap, cheesy or gimmicky. This is “WTF” horror, even with such a ridiculous premise.
For Ren’s (Dennis Andres) most recent birthday, he wants to participate in a foursome (didn’t expect to start there, eh?). Lucky for him, there’s an underground sex club where rooms are for rent, and he somehow convinces three willing parties to make his wish come true. One of those participants is his girlfriend Sandy (Alysa King), who seems to have no issue, but maybe that’s because the other two are Ren’s best-bro Fred (George Krissa) and his girlfriend Nancy (Gwenlyn Cumyn). To start things off, Ren suggests a little foreplay on the bed, in hopes of creating a safe atmosphere – but little does he know, once they climb atop the bed, only doom awaits. Whoever gets off the bed, dies. Welcome to a comfortable, drowsy Hell!
Trust me, I’m just as shocked to report that Bed Of The Dead crafts a noose out of sheets and ties it tightly around the audience’s neck, choking viewers with isolated tension. Outrageous kill sequences churn out some pretty righteous gore, while moments of sleek, down-and-dirty horror chill to the core (nice little homages to The Thing and The Grudge). Nothing about “an evil bed” sounds engaging, yet every moment spent in that stanky sex dungeon reeks of something far more foul than sweat-covered sheets. When characters die, they die hard, and when scares are inserted, they lunge with ferocity.
There’s also a tweaked atmosphere that undercuts demonic inhabitants, as it’s revealed that deserving parties end up afflicted by the bed’s curse (whose frame is built from blood-soaked wood stolen from a cult’s hangin’ tree). This is where a lawman named Virgil (Colin Price) comes in, and a rift in time lets him communicate with the victims even though they’re dead in real time.
Without revealing too much, a fracture timeline plays out in parallel where we think Virgil’s scenes are an after-effect of the bedsitter’s deaths, but once Sandy connects, a race against time begins. Some might be thrown by the choice to augment reality – along with zero backstory into the possessed headboard symbol – yet there’s never a moment where anything becomes too complicated, or incomprehensibly coincidental. Kudos to Jeff Maher for finding every conceivable way to liven up what could have been a one-room horror dud, somehow injecting loads of life into this ambitious waking nightmare.
What works for me is how Maher and Calahan dive immediately into action. Opening credits introduce a Celtic-influenced symbol that represents a rooted tie between heaven and hell (prominently displayed and constantly in-shot), a flaming “BED OF THE DEAD” title card explodes with fire, and we’re immediately taken to “Room 18,” where accumulated dust can’t deter Ren’s devious desires.
Within minutes, someone dies a bloody, raucous death, and characters immediately realize they can’t leave the bed – which is a bit silly, but works to keep story elements charging forward. Yes, there’s logic issues here (why is your first thought “WE CAN’T LEAVE THE BED!”), but, then again, Bed Of The Dead is about an occult-tainted sleeping surface that acts as judge, jury, and executioner. With that in mind, Maher does a tremendous job diverting questions with a quick, streamlined pace that balances morality and horror with a vicious mean-streak.
I also enjoy the atmosphere of Maher’s vision, coupled with cinematography by Micha Dahan and original music by Steph Copeland (do I detect hints at Carpenter?). A major emphasis is put on an elevated B-movie aesthetic, utilizing grotesque kills that spit buckets of blood while simultaneously creating fear. Bones cripple and break, invisible Hell Hounds tear at flesh, and contorted limbs make for a trippy Exorcist throwback scene that ends in retributive manslaughter. There’s such a wealth of unexpected genre intensity never imagined to involve an evil bed, because Maher is working with so much more than a batshit-sounding concept. This is one of those movies that probably sounded moronic on paper, yet somehow turns the confines of comfort into a wicked, nasty persecution of the damned.
Bed Of The Dead shouldn’t work – but it does, and it never lets you forget that. Silky, satin terrors cover every inch of your body, as Jeff Maher continually lulls you into a false sense of safe absurdity, only to rev this baby’s maniacal engine as blood shoots everywhere. Performances are toned enough to work with complete shock and utter ambivalence, practical effects cover sex stains with gooey grossness, and Hell gains a few more inhabitants thanks to a bed that’s straight from Satan’s home. Nasty, brutal, and loaded with genre insanity, Bed Of The Dead is an off-the-wall original horror concept birthed from a woodworker’s nightmare – don’t sleep on this one. Literally.
Bed Of The Dead surprisingly opts for a straight-shooting horror vibe, and makes you forget how silly an "evil bed" movie sounds on paper.