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Deathbed (DVD)

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Genre: Horror / Theatrical Release: 2002 / Suitable for 18 years and over / Director: Danny Draven / Actors: Tanya Dempsey, Brave Matthews, Meagan Mangum, Michael Sonye, Joe Estevez ... / DVD released 2002-12-23 at Film 2000 / Features of the DVD: PAL

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      04.02.2010 21:38
      Very helpful
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      For fans of budget horror only

      Karen and Jerry move into a wonderful new apartment, which they are delighted to find. Karen is a children's artist, working at home during the day, and is frightened one day to find that it seems as though someone is trapped in an unused attic room. She calls the caretaker, Art, who breaks the door open. Yet there is no-one there, apart from an old-fashioned double bed. She and Art move it downstairs to the main part of the apartment and she and Jerry decide to sleep on it. Then Karen begins to feel as though she is being taken over. She sees strange people in the flat, starts drawing things she can't remember drawing and has a voracious sexual appetite. Then more serious things start to go wrong. Can Karen and Jerry escape from the apartment before it is too late? And just who are the mysterious strangers she keeps seeing?

      With the exception of Joe Estevez (uncle of Emilio and Martin Sheen), I haven't heard of any of the other cast members. Tanya Dempsey plays Karen and is actually quite good. She has to show a variety of emotions throughout the course of the film, including fear, sexual desire, anger and deep anxiety and she does all this without looking at all wooden. Then again, I have very low standards for actors in this type of film - usually they are completely rubbish - so she is probably little more than competent. Certainly she hasn't done anything else of any note. Brave Matthews as Jerry is also reasonable - a bit slimy and selfish - but then as we see him having sex for at least 50% of the time that he is on screen, that perhaps isn't surprising.

      Joe Estevez is an accomplished actor in that he has made literally a couple of hundred films. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean he is necessarily much good. I've seen him in another film (I can't remember the name, probably because it was not good) and he left the same impression here. He over-acts in a way that is quite painful to watch - it never feels natural. Unfortunately the Sheen/Estevez acting genes didn't quite reach him. It's a shame really, because the acting was otherwise good - it is just his character that ruins things. His wife-to-be, Constance, how he married two years after this film was released, has a small part in the film as one of Jerry's photographic models, but she doesn't really have a large enough role to have an impact on the film overall.

      Perhaps I should have been more prepared - the film is about a bed after all - but I wasn't really expecting there to be as much sex in this film as there was. First of all, we see that Karen and Jerry are having sexual problems, because Karen finds sex painful. Then she turns into a vamp and can't get enough sex. We also see the reason that the bed is called the 'death bed', because it involved a sex-oriented murder in the past - again, we get to see the sex. I'm not prudish, I just wasn't really expecting it. However, it isn't really at all graphic - all we really get to see apart from the writhing (loads of it) and facial expressions is the odd glimpse of breasts. Nevertheless, it isn't appropriate for children, hence the 18 rating, and some may find the link between sex and murder to be offensive and unnecessary.

      Not to be confused with the seventies horror film Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (yes, really), I didn't mind the story at all. It isn't brilliant, nor is it particularly original, and it is distinctly silly at times. However, it is entertaining and I thought the pacing was good. I think it was a wise move on the part of director Danny Draven to keep the film short - at just 80 minutes there really wasn't time to get bored. There is a fair amount of tension and the atmosphere is certainly well built-up. I didn't really find myself being scared though. I think anyone who doesn't often watch horrors might find it frightening, but as someone who watches a great deal, it didn't really do much for me. There are a few moments of violence and gore, but it is hard to take them seriously because the special effects just aren't all that good.

      What ruined the film for me was the ending. It follows the pattern of many other budget horrors in that we think the film is over when it suddenly switches to another time and place, which doesn't really fit in with the rest of the film. There is also no real explanation for why what happened did happen - presumably we are supposed to draw our own conclusions, but I would have liked a little more depth to it. I honestly think that had the ending been more polished and less rushed, this would have been a much better film that it is.

      The only extras are adverts, which is probably more than adequate. I can't imagine many people wanting to know how the film was made.

      On the whole, I thought this was a reasonable film that lost its way towards the end. However, it is certainly not a film that is going to appeal to everyone - or even to many people at all, come to that. If you happen to like budget horror and you don't mind lots of sex mixed in with it, then you might just like this. Everyone else should stay well clear - you have been warned! I doubt very much that I will watch it again, but I don't regret having watched it. Three stars out of five.

      The DVD is available from play.com for £1.54. My copy was from Poundland.

      Classification: 18

      Running time: 80 minutes

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