Three junkies awaken in their dingy New York City apartment after a night of debauchery and ponder their next move. They survey the room with its empty whisky bottles, the bra hanging on the door by a flick knife, and the complete lack of heroin, and decide they'll have to see Lou who is their dealer. But first they'll have to carry out a few errands for him by visiting a selection of women he wants to exploit, speaking of which, at the harbour has arrived Ito (Yoko Ono) from Japan who hopes to settle there with her American boyfriend Paul; he has sent for her, but what she doesn't know is that he is in Lou's debts for covering up an incident when they were in the Army…
This isn't exactly the best known item of Beatles ephemera, probably because it's more Yoko Ono ephemera, and she hadn't even met John Lennon when she was making this. Or rather, half of this, as her scenes were shot for a different film that was never finished, whereupon exploitation experts Michael Findlay and his wife Roberta Findlay, tough customers both, stepped in to conjure up some new footage to bulk up what the original director Tamijian had concocted but never completed. At this point their specialities were on the seedier end of the movie spectrum, as they would continue to be, and so-called roughies were making money in the nineteen-sixties grindhouses.
So that's what they made this into, as sequences of the hapless Yoko were intercut with the Findlays' idea of exciting cinema which turned to be the trio of junkies ostensibly getting their female victims hooked on heroin, but actually raping and murdering them, at least until they met their match in the final reel. Even with this unsavoury and relentless padding, Satan's Bed barely made it past the hour mark, but nevertheless it has endured as a minor example of interest because of its star. She was no actress, and didn't pursue thespianism when her art, music and her marriage to Lennon took off (those three may not be unconnected), but proved an unassuming presence for the duration, victimised frequently.
Indeed, so abused was Yoko's character that you could imagine the legions of haters she had to put up with getting kicks from watching her get a raw deal. Only the footage with her in it might depict Ito ending up in a terrible place as her money was stolen, Paul disappeared and she was raped by Lou, but most of that abuse took place offscreen. If anyone was abusing her it was the director who insisted on a scene where she took a shower, rather coyly filmed but we didn’t get an eyeful of her nude form in a peek-a-boo style. What also you didn’t get was Yoko in essentially violent sexual situations, which was a blessing for both her and the audience, those who wanted to watch her because they liked her or more menacingly, those wanted to watch her who didn't.
Now, if you've seen the Two Virgins album cover you'll have seen what Yoko looks like in the buff anyway, her husband too, so perhaps there wasn’t really any reason for the dedicated Beatles fan to track this down. Except there is a sort of Beatles fan who despises her and would love to see her humiliated, which was why Satan's Bed held a certain interest; while John was making Help! in exotic, sunny climes she was stuck in these pokey New York apartments and out in the streets making this misbegotten exercise. Therefore an unlovely schadenfreude enters into the picture as if her inclusion here was punishment for supposedly breaking up the biggest band in the world (which was never going to last anyway) or making art that only she understood, or her biggest crime, singing in a high-pitched, wailing fashion on her husband's records, thus spoiling what supposedly should have been the product of classic Lennon. It's fair to observe she was no saint in some areas, but this movie was not exactly a skeleton in her closet, and most chose to ignore it, which was easy done.