We all grew up hearing the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Being someone who grew up with a video rental store down the street from me, I made it a habit to do just that, whenever perusing the horror aisle. Seeing all of the VHS cover art on display was what made the hobby such an exciting one. Something equally as important as [not] judging a book, or in this case a film, by its cover is judging one by its title. These can also be very misleading. This is exactly the case with Jeff Maher’s debut film, Bed of the Dead.
As part of a birthday celebration, a group of friends plan to stay the night in a sleazy hotel that also doubles as a sex club. Shortly after arriving, however, they realize that things aren’t going to go quite as planned. Soon, suffering from hallucinations, the twenty-somethings are made aware that they cannot escape the bed, for it will mean certain death.
I remember hearing about Bed of the Dead upon its original release sometime in 2016. I thought it was a silly title and therefore, must be a silly movie. Even though my interest was piqued, I never was able to get my hands on a copy. Finally, years later, that has changed!
Bed of the Dead starts off with some spooky action rather quickly. Mere seconds into the film, we are provided just enough backstory to understand exactly why the bed we are about to be introduced to is a haunted one.
Right away, it is easy to tell that Bed of the Dead has much more of a budget than I was expecting. I have gotten so used to watching films with little-to-no financial backing that I just assume most films I press “play” on will be the same. Fortunately, Maher and crew were able to put enough money into this one to make it stand out above most other indie efforts.
Bed of the Dead features a small cast of, to me, unfamiliar faces. Even still, I was impressed by the performances across the board and was pleased to see that there were really no weak links in the cast.
Everyone from the investigating officer, Virgil (Colin Price, The Heretics), to the group of youngsters looking to have a sexy good time — Sandy (Alysa King, “Slasher”), Nancy (Gwenlyn Cumyn), Ren (Dennis Andres), and Fred (George Krissa) — did a more-than-adequate job portraying their characters. In turn, the film moves along quite effortlessly with very little lulls in the action.
Having such a small cast can be a challenge for some filmmakers in terms of a body count. I mean, how many horror fans are going to pleased with just four people being offed? We all know it’s the more the merrier! This was not a problem for writer and director, Jeff Maher, as he treats us to a myriad of flashbacks, all filled with previous victims of the ancient haunted bed, providing us an a nice increase in the number of bloody bodies.
Let me assure you, even with a body count that is still rather modest, we are treated with some of the most impressive kills I’ve seen in a while. More than once, my jaw dropped as the characters I was learning so much about dropped off like flies. I generally try to stay away from any type of spoiler territory in my reviews, so I will just leave it at this — there is a glorious scene of supernatural eviscerating that I will remember for years to come.
The best part of these inventive and creative kills is that every single one of them is executed using practical special effects. Rest assured that no crummy CGI will be seen in Bed of the Dead, ruining the fun for any of us.
Other than the 1977 flick Death Bed: The Bed That Eats, Bed of the Dead is the only killer bed movie that I am aware of. Without having had the opportunity to watch George Barry’s iteration of a story involving a murderous bed, I would bet a lot of money that Maher’s take is more serious in tone. Believe me, it’s much more than a silly film about a bloodthirsty mattress.
Bed of the Dead Home Release
Bed of the Dead is available now in an impressive Blu-ray and DVD combo pack from Canadian label, Black Fawn Distribution. The Region A release is presented in English with English SDH subtitles and 5.1 DTS-HD master audio, 5.1 surround, and 2.0 stereo audio tracks.
This release comes equipped with a slipcover, which will please most of you collectors out there if you’re anything like me, and a number of special features, including previously unreleased music from the film’s composer, Steph Copeland, and a surprising behind-the-scenes making-of featurette of the 1977 film that I mentioned above, George Barry’s Death Bed: The Bed That Eats.
Bed of the Dead is a supernatural tale of an ancient evil living inside a bed frame. Its 85 minutes features a talented cast, creative storytelling, and beautifully gruesome practical effects. Additionally, the cinematography and lighting aide in creating the perfect atmosphere from start to finish, which should come as no surprise after learning of Maher’s extensive background as a cinematographer for almost 40 projects.
If you are looking for something new and something different from what you are used to from the horror genre, look no further than this film.
I give it 4 emperor size beds out of 5.