Monday, September 12, 2011

Random Film Review: The Bed

Dir: Derek Vanlint | UK | 1980 | 29mins

The Bed, made in 1980 but not released until 1982, is a low-budget short horror film made in England. I'm guessing, though I'm not sure, that it was made as a short for showing before the main feature in cinemas, something that used to happen in British cinemas up until the 1980s.

It starred my best friend at the time, Christian, and I was employed as a (uncredited) stunt double. I was paid £20 and could eat as much doughnuts and chocolate biscuits as I liked, which I certainly did. I think I was there more to keep Christian company than to be his stunt double but on the one bit of doubling I did do, lighting a match in a dark room, I distinctly remember burning my finger.

Though I wasn't allowed to watch the film once it was released (it was classified AA, which meant fourteen or over), I did see most of it being filmed, even the scary bits, and remember thinking it odd I couldn't watch the end result when I'd actually seen it being shot.

The film's director, Derek Vanlint, died last year. Previously to photographing and directing The Bed he was cinematographer for Ridley Scott's Alien (1979). After shooting Scott's moody masterpiece I would have expected Vanlint's CV to be full of high quality films he'd worked on – but it seems not. His only other role as cinematographer on a feature film was for Dragonslayer, two years after Alien. He worked a lot in commercials then his name crops up again for special effects on X-Men and as director and cinematography on horror film The Spreading Ground, starring Dennis Hopper (both 2000).

The Bed starts with Jamie as a young man looking round an old, deserted country house. Through flashback we see Jamie as a boy (played by Christian), scared out of his wits when his older sister and her boyfriend, left alone in the house to babysit Jamie for the evening, play cruel tricks on him. His sister makes believe she's been sucked under Jamie's bed by a monster and her boyfriend pretends he's been stabbed. Jamie has his revenge at the end when the couple, laughing at scaring Jamie half to death and frolicking on The Bed, are suffocated by its sheets and consumed by it. We come back to present day; Jamie looks at the empty room where the bed once stood then is called by someone outside: an ambulance driver beckons him down in a friendly voice. We assume it's Jamie's day out from the mental asylum. The final shot is of the lighter part of flooring where the bed once stood disappearing once Jamie has left the room.

For a low-budget (and very dated) short horror film, it has a surprising number of talented people working on it. Aside from Vanlint, the late Richard Bedford, who worked frequently with director Julian Temple, was the editor. The creepy, atmospheric electronic music is by John Foxx, former lead singer of Ultravox. He left Ultravox in 1979 to pursue a solo career, so The Bed must have been one of his first solo projects.

It was to be my first and last job as a stunt double. Over ten years after The Bed, Christian would act in and provide make up effects for my video Darker Than Night.


Martin Smith said...

Would you be prepared to discuss The Bed further in the interests of biographical research for John Foxx?

Unknown said...

Is it possible to see this movie? I love Derek Vanlint work!

Barnaby said...

I have a copy of it and may well put in on YouTube at some point. Watch this space...

Anonymous said...

Wow. That would be awesome. Please do it.