Satan’s Bed

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Prior to her association with John Lennon, Yoko Ono appeared in the Michael Findlay movie Satan’s Bed (1965). Ono was living in New York City and enjoying a place amongst the elite of the avant-garde. She went into the project that became Satan’s Bed, Judas City, assuming that the film would be your standard underground film of the time; somewhere between Warhol and Jack Smith.

Satan’s Bed isn’t anything like Warhol, Smith, Kenneth Anger or Shirley Clarke. Satan’s Bed is a cheap, grindhouse sexploitation movie about a gang of thieving rapist junkies stalking the Big Apple. These grindhouse spectacles are classic Michael Findlay. The scenes with Yoko Ono have been imported into the film by Findlay to pad it out. Somewhere along the way Yoko Ono’s film Judas City was abandoned and cannibalized by Findlay.

If one looks at the narrative thread of Satan’s Bed with Yoko Ono removed from the more grindhouse elements a story begins to take shape. Presumably the plot to the Michael Findlay film that Ono originally appeared in deals with the systematic abuse and exploitation of immigrant women in the United States. Ono’s character is the victim of a forced marriage, forced labor, and forced intercourse. The political commentary of these episodic segments of the film is completely lost when mixed in with and juxtaposed by the exploitation sequences that Findlay shot later.

Satan’s Bed is an unholy shotgun marriage between the two kinds of films that dominated Times Square in the sixties and it doesn’t work. Yoko Ono’s fame post her Beatles association is the only reason that this film has probably survived. Satan’s Bed is a weirdo curio from the sixties that’s been preserved by Something Weird Video.