Remember that movie Crash? No, not the one where the guy has sex with a woman’s scar, the one where racist people have a series of poetically inevitable misunderstandings, and everyone learns something (I, for example, learned that pandering, mediocre movies could all use a scene where a guy fucks a woman in the scar). I love it when movies help me learn things, since all other methods of learning things via “art” are too much work.
The things you probably learned from Crash will last several lifetimes, so I understand it might blow your mind when I tell you that I recently saw a movie that taught me at least that many things (I would tell you how many things that is, but Crash didn’t teach me how to count, it only taught me that Chinese people are slave traders — and bad drivers). The filmic achievement of which I speak is Death Bed: The Bed That Eats.
Why nobody wanted to release Death Bed when it was made in 1977, and it is now relegated to “cult” status among “art snobs” like “me” who are “cooler than you” is beyond “me.” Just like Crash, the issues Death Bed deals with are wrenching and universal, and indicative of humanity’s paradox as both the most intelligent and most idiotic life form ever. I mean, don’t you hate it when your bed gets infected with the blood tears of a sad demon and then develops an insatiable desire for flesh, which itself is exposited by a tubercular ghost trapped in a wall behind a painting?!?!? I know, you’re thinking, ‘Wow, that is totally me.’
I also learned — and this is a very valuable lesson, so pay attention, damn it — that you should not plunge a knife into a possessed bed, because the bed will emit some orange bubble bath and strip the flesh off your hands, leaving you to lean melancholically against the wall contemplating your skeleton-fingers as if they were a particularly bland issue of People. I’m not really doing Death Bed justice here, because I can’t remove all cognitive and narrative abilities from my brain, and that is the defining characteristic of Death Bed: it is paced in such an inexplicable way that it tests the very bounds of human cognition. For example, there is a five-minute scene consisting of one shot where a woman pulls herself across a room with her arms, since the red finger paint on her fully-clothed legs would indicate that the bed has eaten their flesh. In the time it takes her to yank herself up four stairs, you go from thinking you must be high, to remembering that you aren’t high, to deciding you really have to get high and then going out into the “bad” neighborhood to buy drugs and encountering a bunch of highly complex ethnic stereotypes and having it made into Crash and winning five Oscars and she’s only on the forth fucking step!
Death Bed teaches us that the flimsy boundaries of “logic” and “reason” are as easily stripped away as the thigh muscle of a little crippled girl by a mattress full of angry stomach acid (the wall-ghost inherits the girl’s leg brace in a particularly touching scene). And this is something we must all keep in mind when Karl Rove — who himself is possessed with the tears of an angry demon — awakens from his demon slumber/Applebee’s coma and casts a voodoo spell on the midterm elections and the House and Senate are both taken over by the lead singers of Christian rock bands.
Even though right now it seems, deceptively, like humanity has a slim chance of survival, the immortal, people-eating bed that is the American theocratical-industrial complex must prevail. Don’t take my word for it — there’s a tubercular ghost behind my bed who’ll say the same thing. And he’ll simultaneously question and reaffirm ethnic stereotypes while saying it, so you know it must be true.