Q&A: Kyra Schon Recalls “NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD”
Kyra Schon will be forever remembered as the doomed Karen Cooper in George A. Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, but the enthusiastic Schon has layers of personality and charm that far supersede her famous character’s ghoulish aura. On the eve of an appearance at Chicago’s Sci-Fi Spectacular 2014 this weekend, the kind Schon took a few moments to provide FANGORIA with her thoughts on what would have happened if everyone’s favorite zombiefied youngster had actually survived that initial onslaught in 1968.
FANGORIA: If Karen Cooper was in THE BREAKFAST CLUB, what kind of character do you think she would be?
KYRA SCHON: [Laughs] Well, oddly, in real life, I was in a Breakfast Club when growing up.
SCHON: I think Karen would have been a lot like me. She would have been outside smoking cigarettes and cutting school. You know…all those good things. She would have been a marginal delinquent, but not too bad.
FANG: Perhaps like Molly Ringwald’s caustic Claire, but with a little danger?
SCHON: Yeah, not an outright criminal, but just a little shady.
FANG: Then, once she totally cleaned up her act, given her handiness with a cement trowel, she might have become an architect.
SCHON: [Laughs] Perhaps…or a brick layer! Learn a trade! You’ll never be out of work!
FANG: What would her theme song be? Something classic like “You Always Hurt the One You Love,” or would you pick something more harsh and contemporary?
SCHON: [Laughs] I don’t know. I’ve never thought of Karen having a theme song. This will haunt me now for days while I try to figure out what it is. Thanks a lot! I’ll have to work on this.
FANG: Let’s say she had survived. Do you think she would become an intelligent zombie, like Bub from DAY OF THE DEAD or LAND OF THE DEAD’s Big Daddy?
SCHON: She was an intelligent zombie. She was using tools. She was actually the second one to do that; Bill Hinzman’s zombie was the first. He used a brick. I definitely think she was of higher intelligence. She probably would have been like Ed, the Nick Frost character in SHAUN OF THE DEAD. She would have been playing video games at the end of that movie. I think she would have been able to do that.
FANG: Would there have been a career path for her, do you think?
SCHON: Maybe she’d have a trade. Like dog grooming!
FANG: That’s a perfect film right there! KAREN COOPER, DOG GROOMER!
SCHON: [Laughs] Exactly!
FANG: Actually, she would have been a great action star with all that trowel action. She could probably have held her own alongside Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis and their ilk.
SCHON: Not being a raging fan of those people, all I can say is I would hope so.
FANG: There isn’t a lot of hope presented at NIGHT’s finale. Would you change that in any way?
SCHON: I’m not sure that the movie would be remembered as much as it is now without that ending. It really stays with people. It’s so horrifying. Over one night, this guy survives a horrific siege, then gets knocked off by these ordinary guys. It’s horrifying. Every time I see it, I want to yell at the screen, “Why don’t you call out? ‘Hello! I’m in here.’ ” That’s all it would have taken. But…no! I don’t think I would change it. That really is what makes the movie so bleak.
FANG: Yet it has garnered such a vibrant following.
SCHON: Definitely! My dad [the late Karl Hardman], who played Harry in the film, loved going to the conventions. Loved them! He had a great time with the fans. He pretty much looked the same; he would paint a bruise on his head. It was such a tiny, tiny little gesture, but the fans ate it up! Then he would get into Harry character, and they absolutely adored him. He used to have a really, really good time. When I go to the cons now, I think he would have had so much fun! NIGHT’s fans are so enthusiastic. It kind of energizes all of us, in a sense.
Schon and Doug Jones (PAN’S LABYRINTH, HELLBOY) will be appearing at The Sci-Fi Spectacular 2014 this Saturday, April 12 at the Patio Theater, 6008 Irving Park Road in Chicago. Tickets are $20 pre-sale, $25 at the door day of the show. For more info, go to www.facebook.com/terrorintheaisles.