INTERVIEW: Alysa King, star of Bed of the Dead
– By Mikel Iriarte
Ahead of it’s UK release this coming Monday, July 10th, we had the pleasure of spending some time with BED OF THE DEAD star ALYSA KING.
We’d previously met Alysa at Shriekfest Film Festival back in 2014 where she was promoting her latest film, Berkshire County, so it was lovely to have a catch-up and hear all about her latest bloodsoaked offering…
What was the audition process like with Jeff Maher and the Black Fawn guys on Bed of the Dead? Were you familiar with their work beforehand? Did you do any screen tests, etc, with other actors?
I was definitely familiar with the Black Fawn guys, and had seen (and auditioned for) a couple of their previous films (Drownsman and Bite), before I came in for Bed of the Dead. They were also familiar with my previous film (Berkshire County), so they had seen my work before as well.
The audition process was a lot of fun because I was a reader for one of their sessions, which meant I got to spend some time with the creative team, as well as interact with a bunch of the actors that came in for various other roles.
I hear you were a bit of a VHS junkie as a kid, did you ever come across Deathbed? What’s your favourite film from that era? How did your connection to the horror genre inform you working on Bed of the Dead?
Yes! I did see Death Bed as a kid, and it’s exactly what drew me to the Bed of the Dead script. I always loved those over the top genre stories growing up. One of my favourites films from that era was Nightmare on Elm Street. The concept always terrified me, and definitely gave me a few nightmares haha.
Also, how do you consume your films now? Netflix, Shudder, anything you’ve really enjoyed recently?
Mostly Netflix, CraveTV, YouTube or at the movie theatre. I just saw Wonder Woman (in theatres) and John Wick 2 (via YouTube), and really enjoyed both.
Given the situational element, how did you bond with the other actors on Bed of the Dead? Were you literally stuck on the bed all day on set? Did you ever play the floor is made of lava? Did you discuss your characters and back story and how they concluded to have a foursome together? Did you ever get to meet Colin Price playing the Detective through the making of the movie?
Haha! Yes, Gwen (Nancy), Dennis (Ren), George (Fred), and I definitely had some time to bond on that giant bed. Gwen and I spent the most time on it, and by the end of the shoot the bed was so wet, sticky, and musty smelling that we were dying to get off of it. I think we gladly would’ve jumped into lava if we had been playing that game haha.
I think by time we got on the bed together, we had already worked out our character’s backstories and how they all came to be there. That’s all part of my prep work before I start shooting.
I don’t think Colin and I got to hang out on set at all, which is funny because our characters have a conversation in the film! We already knew each other from a previous project, and were excited to work together again when we found out that we had both booked roles in the film, but we only really saw each other in passing on this one. We did get to see each other a bunch for film festival stuff though 🙂
Drawing upon the key themes, how did that affect your perception of Sandy? Do you see her as a final girl? How does Bed of the Dead play with the tropes that you love in horror movies?
The theme of guilt and punishment is huge throughout the film, and largely informed my portrayal of Sandy. A lot of her actions and behaviours are motivated by guilt, and she has various ways of trying to mask the pain that is caused by it (ex. drinking, anger, etc.).
I do see Sandy as the final girl for this film, but instead of having a final confrontation with a killer, like in Halloween or Scream, she has to confront her own feelings of guilt to escape the clutches of the bed.
I love that Bed of the Dead uses typical horror movie tropes, like the final girl, and turns them on their head or adds some sort of twist.
You acted professionally as a child, did this ever affect your perception of cinema and moviemaking growing up? What were your favourite films as a kid?
Yes, I definitely think my experience as a child affected my perception of filmmaking because I had an idea of the scope of work that went into a project! I also think that it made me more interested in the industry, and gave me a more realistic view of it.
My favourite films as a young child were mostly Disney films, a far cry from horror haha! I also loved Are You Afraid of the Dark (Canadian TV series), X-Files (which was my treat to stay up late on Sundays and watch haha), and Goosebumps.
You’ve also worked extensively in theatre, how does your process change when acting in classical plays compared with a horror film? Do you find yourself drawn to the macabre in theatre or have you ever acted in any plays with horrific undertones like Titus Andronicus?
Funnily enough, I played Chiron in a production of Titus Andronicus during my University days that was very well received, so I guess you could say I was drawn to the macabre in theatre.
I would say that my approach to analyzing a script or character is the same for both film and theatre, but the method in which I present them requires a very different technique for the two mediums.
How did you get back into acting as an adult and what sort of steps have you taken in your career? Were you always keen to star in horror films? What do you look for when you’re reading a script for the first time?
I got back into acting (professionally) once I graduated University. I always joke with people that it was my “quarter-life crisis” that motivated me to pursue my dream, but in truth, I realized one day that I didn’t want to look back on my life and wonder “what if”. So I made the decision to pursue what I always wanted to do, a career in film.
I left my job in Kingston and moved back to Toronto, got an agent, started auditioning, worked hard whenever I booked, and have had some luck along the way. Success in this industry is when hard work and preparation meets opportunity.
As much as I enjoyed horror films growing up, I wasn’t particularly set on acting in horror films when I first started, I just considered myself lucky to book anything! In Toronto, there’s a really awesome indie horror scene and fan base, so I was able to get some great exposure which lead to other things.
When I read a script for the first time, I’m always conscious of the bigger picture/ story arch of the characters. Then I go back and read it many more times to pick up all the details haha.
How did you get involved with priest-revenge-sploitation film Holy Hell? What’s your favourite subgenre of horror films?
The director/writer/lead actor, Ryan LaPlante, is an old friend of mine and we’ve worked on many projects together (he directed the production of Titus Andronicus I mentioned earlier). He approached me with the script and I jumped on board because Ryan is always so much fun to work with.
My favourite sub-genre of horror right now would probably be horror comedies or paranormal horror. I also really like psychological thriller type stuff.
You starred in Chiller TV’s Slasher, how was it working with a larger budget and for TV? What are your favourite TV shows, horror and not?
Working on Slasher was awesome! It’s always fun to work on bigger budget stuff because you know people are going to be able to see it at some point! Sometimes the more low-budget indie stuff doesn’t end up surfacing on major platforms. Slasher is now on Netflix, so every so often I get a friend messaging me saying they binge watched it haha.
Some of my favourite shows right now (of various genres) are Wentworth, Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Brooklyn 99, True Detective, Hannibal, and Cardinal.
The Black Fawn team like using practical effects, do you prefer VFX or practical and why? What moment do you find scariest in Bed of the Dead, how did this compare to shooting on-set? How was it working with the practical elements in Bed of the Dead?
I prefer practical effects 100%. It just always looks more real to me, and the actors have something to play off of as opposed to imagining what it would look like.
*Spoiler alert* if you haven’t seen Bed of the Dead yet… But I think the scariest part is when Ren gets killed. The demon child rising up from the bed was freaky. I don’t really find the moments that I was on set scary to watch because I know everything that happened behind the scenes and that ruins the tension/illusion for me.
Working on Bed of the Dead with practical effects was very sticky and messy haha. The blood was corn syrup based, so when you were covered in it, and sat for long periods of time, your skin would start to fuse together.
We’re about to get Tim Horton’s in the UK, you were in an advertising campaign for the Canadian coffee shop, what’s so great about it? (I’ve been to Canada and experienced the delights so this is just a silly one)
Haha! Tim Hortons is a staple in the Canadian diet because there’s one every few blocks. It’s just something that we all grew up on, so when I booked that campaign I joked that it was a rite of passage as a Canadian actor.
I’ve been to the UK several times, and the donuts that you have there are very different in density and flavour, they’re just not the same!
When you do get your first Tim Hortons, try the custard filled Canadian Maple donut, it’s one of my favourites, and the maple flavour makes it even more Canadian haha 😉
What’s next in the pipeline? Maybe a cameo in the second season of Slasher?
I just finished shooting a drama/comedy short film that I produced and starred in called “Life Alarm”. We are hoping to start submitting to festivals towards the end of the summer, and I’m really proud of the project so far!
I also will be in an episode of a new show coming out called “Fare Trade”, and have a small role in a new horror movie with Colm Feore called “Hunter’s Moon”.
Both Bed of the Dead and Holy Hell are coming out on DVD soon as well.