Growing up, I always enjoyed horror movies and had a love for cartoons. I couldn’t believe it when I found out that comedian Carlos Alazraqui has been the voice of so many cartoons! The actor is versatile with his work. His movie, Witness Infection (2021 – read our review here), is a great mix of horror and comedy. I was fortunate enough to sit down and talk to the two writers and actors of the film, Carlos Alazraqui, and Jill-Michele Melean.
PopHorror: First of all, thank you both for taking time out of your busy schedules to talk with me. I loved the movie. It’s a really fun ride with horror and comedy. I know you two have worked with each other in the past as well. Was a horror script always in mind?
Carlos Alazraqui: Jilly and I know each other pretty well from our stand-up tours and being on Reno 911 together as brother and sister. The comedy was always going to be there. Her liking horror as much as I do was a bonus! We gelled very easily writing this script!
Jill-Michele Melean: Yes. Carlos and I are huge fans of the horror genre and love horror fans. We knew it had to be a comedy, too, because we’re comedians, and that’s how our brains work. Plus, we’re huge fans of Shaun of the Dead—one of my favorites. I wanted to make a film with that inspiration.
PopHorror: It’s an all-star cast of great actors. Did you have them in mind when writing the script?
Carlos Alazraqui: We had the basic core of the cast in mind except for Monique Coleman and Maurice LaMarche coming on a bit later. Carlo was written for me, and eventually, we thought Rob Belushi was better suited to play the lead and I, his father.
Jill-Michele Melean: Yes. When writing, we visualized everyone we wanted. I’d say we got 90% of the people we were visualizing when writing. Only because Carlos and his wife stepped up to be our Executive Producers, so we had a lot of creative control.
PopHorror: The film takes elements of mob films, horror, and comedy and blends them so well together. Were you influenced by any specific films of the genre while writing it?
Carlos Alazraqui: Yes. Shaun Of The Dead, Dead Snow, Tremors…
Jill-Michele Melean: Yes, Shaun Of The Dead, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, American Werewolf In London, Fright Night, Scream, Goodfellas, Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill…
PopHorror: As I said, there’s an amazing cast for the film. Was there any room for improv scenes or dialogue?
Carlos Alazraqui: Loads of room for improv and tags. Ironically, Monique’s speech was word for word! Joe Reitman and Gary [Anthony Williams] improvised their scenes, while Jilly, Rob, Vince, Tara, Erinn, and Maurice all added gems!
Jill-Michele Melean: Most of the actors we had were incredible improvisers, so yes, there was improvising. Everyone stayed true to the script, though, and would add tag lines or throw in extra lines. There’s one scene that the actors went away from the script but kept the meaning of the scene, and it turned out better than Carlos and I could’ve written it.
PopHorror: The movie was shot on location. Was it hard to find places during these chaotic times?
Carlos Alazraqui: Yes! BIG thanks to Andy Palmer, Greg Armstrong, and Jilly for finding us great and affordable locations! Andy saved us with Lake Elsinore and three locations located within 5o yards of each other. And Jilly and Greg gave us the Serelli House and Winery. HUGE!!
Jill-Michele Melean: Luckily, we wrapped filming right before the pandemic so we had access to locations and actors. Distribution …another story. I think everyone is still trying to figure that out. Hopefully, with your help, we can alert the public to find us on streaming.
PopHorror: Were there any scenes that look simple enough to create from an audience perspective but in reality were a lot harder to work on?
Carlos Alazraqui: So much work went into most of the scenes with practical makeup and stunts. One of our hardest days was the bar scene with so many background actors—including myself—getting into zombie makeup and stunts inside the bar.
Jill-Michele Melean: Ninety-five percent of our film was practical makeup, so that was time-consuming and took an army of people from OjalaFX team to make happen. It was amazing to watch all of them on set, creating the infection look and gags.
PopHorror: The zombie storyline was great and very creative. Do you think you might venture off into other horror territories of monsters?
Carlos Alazraqui: Yes. We have an idea for a sequel that is creepy… That’s all you get!
Jill-Michele Melean: Yes, yes, yes! Hopefully, with the success of this film, we have an idea for the sequel to dive into.
PopHorror: What advice would you give to anyone getting into voice work, stand-up comedy, or acting?
Carlos Alazraqui: Blaze your path while you go along the traditional route. Work with good and talented friends. Go for it. Be persistent and don’t be afraid to fail.
Jill-Michele Melean: It’s a rollercoaster with no stability, so you gotta love the process!
PopHorror: My final question is for Carlos. You have an impressive Mel Blanc-like resume of voice work. In a zombie apocalypse, which of the characters you voiced would you want on your zombie fighting team?
Carlos Alazraqui: I would want Rocko for his calmness and Mr. Crocker for his craziness!