Ricky Church chats with Bed of the Dead actress Alysa King…
The upcoming horror film Bed of the Dead features two young couples out for night of debauchery at the city’s oldest sex club find themselves stuck on a haunted antique bed where getting off means suffering a gruesome fate. Upon calling the police they are connected with a skeptical detective who informs them that he is currently investigating the death of four young people at the same sex club in the same antique bed! Plagued with frightening hallucinations, they must figure out the bed’s secrets before they are picked off one by one.
Produced by Black Fawn Films and Breakthrough Entertainment, the movie is something of a throwback to the 70s and 80s era of the horror genre. Lead actress Alysa King, featured on the film’s poster, plays Sandy, a young woman who is struggling through a self-destructive pattern and finds herself trapped on the evil bed. King has previously starred in other horror films, most notably Berkshire County for which she collected several Best Actress awards from various festivals, and can also be seen on the TV series Slasher. Flickering Myth recently had the chance to speak with King about her role in Bed of the Dead, its throwback nature and her love of the horror genre.
Ricky Church: To start off, how did you get into acting in the first place?
Alysa King: That goes way back. My mom put me into acting and stuff when I was just a baby, essentially six months old. I did kid modeling and I was in, I don’t know if you remember the K-Mart stores, but I did their ads and everything. I was in a Chrysler commercial when I was 2, and then she took me out of it when I started going to school full time, around grade 1 or 2, then I kind of got back into it on my own.
When I went into high school I started doing school plays and everything like that, but I thought I was going to be a teacher so I went to university for that. When I graduated university I kind of had a quarter-life crisis and was like ‘I’ll never forgive myself if I don’t give it a shot!’ And here we are!
RC: What attracted you to Bed of the Dead? What made you say ‘yes’ and want to be part of the movie?
AK: The premise of it is just so over-the-top and that’s kind of what I love about horror. That you can take these crazy, fantastical situations, something so unreal, and create this story around it and people accept it and are entertained by it. Bed of the Dead definitely is one of those movies.
RC: When I was talking to Jeff (read our interview with director Jeff Maher here) we talked briefly about how it’s kind of a throwback to 70s and 80s B movies, which is clearly evocative of the poster for the film.
AK: Yes! Exactly, 100%. That’s what I loved about it too because me and my friends, this was a big pastime of mine, on the weekends we’d have sleepovers and we would walk to the old Super A Video which was the local rental store and go into the horror section and rent all the most ridiculous horror movies we could find.
One of them, I think it was called Death Bed or something like that, it was about this haunted bed that ate people. It literally had this giant mouth and would pull people into the bed. We just loved those kind of movies. When I heard about Bed of the Dead, my first thought was that movie and I was like ‘Okay, I don’t know what this is, but I got to get in on it’.
RC: Going off what you just said, you’re obviously a big horror fan and you’ve starred in other horror movies. What is it about the genre that makes you come back and find new projects like Bed of the Dead, Berkshire County or Slasher?
AK: I like to do all types of roles and all types of genres. I think there is a lot of opportunity in Toronto for independent horror films which is why I find myself doing all these roles, but, like I said, horror has the ability to go anywhere and do anything. That’s what I like the most about it. It has no limits.
RC: With Bed of the Dead, I guess one challenge of it is that your character is, for the majority of the movie, literally on the bed so how did you work around that acting-wise to keep the performance dynamic and fresh?
AK: I think just the script does that. I played it honestly where I thought Sandy, my character, would go, but I think the script does a lot to mix it up. A lot of my scenes are on the bed, but just the way it’s written and the way its cut you get a break from that. There’s two storylines interconnecting. I feel like that job was done for me naturally with the flashbacks and different stories.
RC: What was it like to work with such a small cast in one location? It was just you and three other actors, right?
AK: Yeah, we bonded! (Laughs) We bonded for sure. Spending 14 hours on a wet, smelly bed will help you bond with people, for sure! (Laughs) They were awesome. In between takes we were just chit chatting and joking around, you know, hanging out. We definitely spent a lot of time together. The core cast, the four of us, I think we jived pretty well and got along. Which is really, really great because if you had some jerk you were sitting on the bed with for like three weeks on a wet, smelly bed, it probably would have been worse!
RC: You say that and there’s the big stunt of the movie that I won’t spoil in the interview, but what was that like to come back everyday and be put back in that make up?
AK: Oh man! (Laughs) The thing about the fake blood we used is that it was really sticky so sometimes my skin would fuse together because when you’re sitting on the bed, if you’re sitting on your knees the back of your legs would glue together. So… yea, that was a little uncomfortable, but sometimes you got to suffer through to get the shot. I mean, I took pictures, totally took selfies of myself after. It looks amazing! My grandma always said you have to suffer to be beautiful and we have to suffer to make this movie look good.
RC: This was Jeff’s first time directing a feature. He was a cinematographer a lot before that, but this was the first time he took on directing so did you find any challenges working with a first time director like him?
AK: Not really so much challenges as things I noticed about Jeff. I loved working with Jeff, he was a fantastic director. The thing I noticed that he does is he’s always thinking about the shots and what the visual says about the scene, about how people are feeling. He used a lot of visual symbolism throughout filming and it was neat to get inside his head a bit about some of that stuff. Where people are placed dictates their power. The composition of the shots was really smart and symbolic.
It was actually really, really cool to work with someone who had been a cinematographer for so long. You could tell he wanted to make something special and he takes a lot of pride in his work. He takes it really personally too so you can tell that he puts all of himself into his work which is really cool.
RC: What was your most memorable thing about this movie?
AK: The most memorable thing was, obviously, the bed. I’ll never forget that bed, like seriously! It was the most ridiculous thing. It was so massive and we spent so much time on it and the people I spent time with on the bed. Just forming those relationships.
RC: Now Bed of the Dead kind of goes beyond traditional horror by addressing some social issues. How did you feel about this movie going that step further by exploring social and personal stuff that people keep hidden?
AK: I think that was really cool because it makes the movie relevant. Yes, this movie is a total throwback to the 70s and 80s B horror films, but exploring those current, hot button issues really brings it into our time period and century. It makes it relatable and relevant for people. That’s what I love so much about Black Fawn Films. You think it’s going to be one thing, but there’s always something underneath that they’re really talking about. It’s not one-dimensional. Their stuff always has multiple layers to it. If you saw Bite, at face value that’s about a girl turning into a giant bug monster, but underneath that it’s dealing with a woman who is being pressured to get married, have a family, she doesn’t really know what she wants. Its not just about this girl turning into a bug, there are so many underlying issues. I think Bed of the Dead does that too.
RC: And what can you say about your character?
AK: There’s so much about Sandy. She is dealing with a lot of stuff right now, clearly. She’s kind of in self-destruct mode. I’m sure a lot of readers can relate that when bad things happen to your family or someone you care about, sometimes it’s easier to go into self-destruct mode than actually deal with your problems and move on, confront your issues. So she’s really caring and has a heart of gold, but she has kind of put up this wall for people. She’s definitely hit the self-destruct button, but she’s working on it, you’ll see. She’s getting there.
RC: A moment ago you were praising a lot of the work that Black Fawn does. What is it about that group that you think makes them stand out among the Canadian independent industry?
AK: Just the quality of their films and its pretty commendable what they have to work with and what their final product is. If you watch their films, you’d think that it’s a Hollywood film. The look of it, they always look so polished and complete with such limited resources. Those guys always get pretty creative. And just the fact they work 24-7. They’re just cranking out all these great films. It’s amazing.
RC: What do you have coming up in the future?
AK: I have the TV series Slasher that just aired. I think that’s coming to Netflix right now. I’m working on a couple personal projects of my own, some theatre stuff too. I’ve got a commercial for Tim Horton’s out right now. It’s so funny because I do so much of these serious, dark, horror characters and then you get this peppy Timmy’s girl. It’s hilarious!
RC: Is there a Twitter or Facebook page people can follow you at?
AK: Yeah, totally. My Twitter and Instagram is @alysaking and my Facebook page is @actoralysaking. I have a website too, alysaking.com, which has links to all my various social media endeavors.
Bed of the Dead will have its World Premiere on July 16th at Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival.
Many thanks to Alysa King for taking the time for this interview.