Ghouls, space monsters, evil spirits and more will be scaring up screams on the big screen this Saturday at Patio Theatre (located on Irving Park Rd near Austin). On April 12 th, cult classics like Legend, Buckaroo Banzai, Night Of The Living Dead including a showing of George Melies’ A Trip To The Moon and many others will once again get their cinematic due at this year’s Sci-Fi Spectacular. blogspot readers! This one-day fest features over 14hrs of movie madness, short films (such as Let’s Invite Satan to the Slumber Party, Hands of Fate, Jack), vendors and much more that’s sure to please any sci-fi / horror fan of all ages. Plus there will be vendors, prizes, surprises, live charity auction in support of Vital Bridges as well as special guest appearances by Doug Jones (Hellboy I & II, Pan’s Labyrinth) and Kyra Schon (Karen “ghoul girl” Cooper of Night Of The Living Dead). Fan will be able to take free pictures with them during this event. Romero’s 1968 classic Night Of The Living Dead is one SouthSide’s favorite horror movies and she had the extreme honor of interviewing Kyra Schon about her iconic role, opinion about horror movies of today and more.
Describing her role in Night Of The Living Dead as “...hungry, cold, empty, driven, persistent...”, this reviewer asked Kyra what was it like working with George Romero and how did she get the role as Karen “ghoul girl” Cooper. She told SouthSide that when she worked with George “...he wasn’t yet considered legendary...” and “...Night Of The Living Dead was his first feature film...” describing the director as a “...big, jovial man with amazing dimples...” And here’s an interesting movie fact in which fans may not know, George asked Kyra’s father to direct her when doing her scenes in the movie. “...I don’t know why – maybe he thought I’d feel more comfortable getting direction from my dad...” Speaking of her dad, you might recognize his other NOTLD movie credits as co-producer (along with Russ Streiner), “...did makeup on the ghouls, and worked on aspects of the sound...” besides his role as Harry Cooper. Since it was so long ago, Kyra doesn’t remember if she and/or her father had to audition for their famous roles, blogspot readers, but she does suspect she got the role through solely on nepotism. However here’s another fact NOTLD fans may not know, her role was originally written as a boy named Timmy but “...nobody knew any boys the right age...” So the part was re-written and the rest is history. “...My dad owned a recording studio in Pittsburgh and [he] was a friend/colleague of the guys from Latent Image [Romero, Streiner, Russo and Hinzman]...” also mentioning this interesting fact, “....he had quite a lot of acting experience – all on stage – prior to NOTLD, but he always hated his performance in the film...” Then, this reviewer wondered if she ever felt her character would be the most remembered especially amongst NOTLD fans to which she commented by saying “...Oh, no way, though I guess I can understand it on some level...” Kyra went on to add “...Little Karen’s gruesome matricide was a groundbreaker ...and I’ve heard it made people physically ill...” That makes her giggle, blogspot readers, when she thinks about it.
At the of 11, Kyra did attend the NOTLD premiere calling it “...a fancy-shmancy affair, replete with limos and dressy clothes...”, blogspot readers. Plus, she was allowed to invite a few of her friends though having to sit in the center section of the theatre with her father. “...I spent a good part of that 90 minutes turned around, watching their reactions...” Why? “...Since I knew what was going to happen on the screen, watching them was more interesting and entertaining, and really, really funny...” to which she also added “...it was a blast!” SouthSide asked Kyra for her opinion on her performance as Karen while watching herself on the big screen and she commented saying “...I don’t really remember my reaction at seeing myself...” “...I was probably embarrassed...” Kyra added along with how watching her dad getting shot and dying in the film made her a little upset. “...I had been there when they filmed that scene [over and over and over again], but seeing it on screen bothered me...” And to this day, she doesn’t like to watch it. She can’t even watch the scene where Duane Jones’ character, Ben, gets shot too. “...I always look away...” Would she do anything different to her character if given the chance? “...I’m not sure I’d have done anything different with Karen, other than not having her eat her dad’s entire arm in a few minutes...” says Kyra before adding, “...I mean, really – what sort of teeth did that kid have?” Good question. Kyra also thinks it would have been nice to see her (Karen) get away. If you really think about it, blogspot readers, her character wasn’t killed in the field with the other ghouls. “...so I like to think she did sneak away and she’s still out there...” Kyra has written extensively about Karen Cooper’s “afterlife” in a form of an advice column called “Ghoulish Guidance”. “...She was my alter ego, and I called her ‘Ghoulfriend’...” Kyra’s column appeared online on the website Dread Central as well as hers – http://www.goulnextdoor.com.
Does Kyra miss being part of the horror genre/movies of today and would she appear as a cameo if asked? She has been asked a couple of times to appear in various indie horror films however she turned them down because she’s not an actor. Her words and opinion, blogspot readers, not SouthSide’s. Let’s have Kyra explain further. “...people only remember my role because of its shock value, and not because of my acting was brilliant...” Yet, she did appear as a judge in 2007 in a film done by her friend called The Green Man. So what’s her opinion about horror genre and its movies? Is there too much gore and/or not enough surprise and suspense in them? Kyra replied, “...there are some recent films I like, though I’m not a fan of excessive gore...” It’s not that she’s squeamish, blogspot readers, but she finds “...too often the gore is a substitute for a plot...” And since this reviewer mentioned suspense, she added “...anyone can make a head explode, but building suspense and tension is an art...” On that note, SouthSide then proceeded to ask Kyra if she had a favorite horror movie director to which she and this reviewer share the same likes, blogspot readers. Her favorite dead director is Alfred Hitchcock meanwhile her favorite live director is George Romero, of course, but she has one more – John Carpenter. “...After George, I really love John Carpenter’s older films ...my three favorites of his are Halloween, The Fog and The Thing...” adding “...I love them because of the tension he created in those films...” As SouthSide mentioned earlier, Kyra along with Doug Jones will be appearing at Sci-Fi Spectacular 2014 this weekend and she wanted her thoughts about the upcoming appearance. “...I’m looking forward to the weekend and to meeting the fans...” And before ending the interview, this reviewer asked Kyra had anything else she would like to tell fans to which she replied with the following:
“I am always grateful to the fans that come out the events I attend. Their love for the film is a great energizer for me, and they make all the events positive experience. Some of my dearest friends started out as fans I met at conventions. I can’t overstate my love for horror fans – NOTLD fans in particular.”
SouthSide would like to thank Kyra Schon for taking time out of her busy schedule for this extra special interview. It gave this reviewer a much deeper appreciation for her favorite horror movie. Pre-sale tickets for Sci-Fi Spectacular 2014 are on sale now for $20 and can be found at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/events/582946. It’s $25 at day of event.
Until next time, support your local scene,