Podcast Episode 15: Sean Haitz Takes Time to “Ketchup” on the Making of His New Horror-Comedy Cannibal Comedian

Writer/Director Sean Haitz joins Lauren Spear on the HorrorFam.com Podcast to give horror fans a taste of his upcoming horror-comedy Cannibal Comedian!

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FULL Written Transcript of the Interview (with Pics!):

*Intro music from FreePD.com*

Lauren Spear: Hi, Everyone! My name is Lauren Spear, and you’re listening to the HorrorFam.com Podcast.

Today, my guest is Sean Haitz! And, you may know him from his previous work on Big Top Evil; but, today, he’s here to talk about his upcoming film: Cannibal Comedian.

So, welcome to the show, Sean! How’re you doing?

Sean Haitz: Great! Thanks for having me, Lauren! This is awesome.

Lauren: I’m so glad that you could be here!

Your new film is described as a “dark horror-comedy” and that’s my favorite kind of film! So… *laughs* I’m very excited about it!

And, right now, there’s just the teaser trailer… But, basically, [Cannibal Comedian] is about a cannibal who decides to do stand-up comedy on the side.

Sean Haitz: *chuckles*

Lauren: So, you know… Two very brutal concepts in one movie!

Sean Haitz: Yeah! He finds out that stand-up comedy is just as brutal as his day-to-day.

man in a butcher's apron and skin  mask with an ax chasing down a terrified woman.
Some of Charlie the cannibal comedian’s day-to-day.

Both: *laugh*

Sean Haitz: The world of comedy is pretty tough! And, even for a cannibal psychotic killer, it can be rough when you’re bombing.

Both: *laugh*

Lauren: I think that’s awesome…

And, you guys are still filming parts of it? Like, it’s mostly done, but you’re still doing some “post” filming to add in lil tweaks here and there? Is that correct…?

Sean Haitz: That is correct.

And, actually, tomorrow we’re doing some promo stuff as well. That’ll be fun.

Yeah. We’ve been doing little add-on stuff. I did one reshoot because we wanted a kill scene to be more brutal and… *laughs* more gory.

Lauren: *chuckles* More gore is always good.

Sean Haitz: Yeah! And especially ’cause it’s one of the first kills… And I was like, “This is kinda lame. I think the horror people want somethin’ more intense.”

A behind-the-scenes clip! Sean isn’t big on CGI, so all of Cannibal Comedian’s special FX are practical.

Lauren: Yeah. And, sometimes, if it’s really over-the-top gore, it just kinda adds to the absurdity and brings out the comedy even more… *laughs* I like that kinda stuff!

Sean Haitz: Oh yeah! Oh yeah. For sure.

Lauren: Yeah! And, I don’t know how much you can — or want — to say about the film… Like, I don’t you to give out spoilers and regret saying anything…

Sean Haitz: Well…

Lauren: …but I’d love to hear more! And I’m sure the listeners would too.

Sean Haitz: Yeah! So… The name of the movie — Cannibal Comedian — pretty much tells you what you’re gonna see.

So, on a surface level, it’s a very silly concept. You know? It’s got the comedy puns and the gore…

But, we took about a year and a half to write the entire script and I have a lot of writers helping me. Really just giving me notes and…

I worked on a TV show called Siren — which is on Freeform — and the showrunners there also worked on the From Dusk Till Dawn TV series and then they were also the producers and showrunners on the Scream series on MTV! And, so, I was really able to dissect their brains. You know? They would give me pointers for twists and arc for character, and that really helped. And it really helps the movie a lot!

So, the movie is, you know, a very silly concept; but then it also has a nice story and great arc and twists! So… it’s cool! Yeah.

Charlie in Cannibal Comedian holding up a slice of human skin on stage
Charlie incorporating a little “Show and Tell” into his comedy act.

Lauren: That’s awesome!

Yeah… That’s gotta be hard! Because… *laughs* You also have to think up all the stand-up comedy routines that your cannibal’s going to do and so it… It’s almost like you’re writing two different movies!

Sean Haitz: Yeah! *laughs*

Lauren: Yeah. I can’t wait to see how all that comes together!

In the press release, there was something about how the cannibal practices his stand-up acts for his victims before he kills them…? *holding back laughter*

Sean Haitz: *laughs* Yes! Yes, he does.

This is even before he ummmm… He gets the “guts”…

Lauren: *chuckles*

Sean Haitz: …to go out in the real world and do stand-up in front of a real audience.

And, one of the characters who is the sheriff — Sheriff Weaver, who’s played by the amazing David Vega who’s also on Twitter as Lucifers AXE and he’s got great music and everything and he’s just a unique awesome guy — kinda messes with Charlie (who’s the cannibal) about “You know, you gotta do comedy in front of real people!” And he’s like, “They are real people.” And he’s like, “Nah. You victims don’t count!” Y’know?

David Vega (AKA Lucifers AXE) as Sheriff Weaver in Cannibal Comedian.
David Vega (AKA Lucifers AXE) as Sheriff Weaver in Cannibal Comedian.

Both: *laugh*

Sean Haitz: Like, they’ll laugh at anything if they have to!

Lauren: Yeah. Yeah. *chuckles*

Sean Haitz: So, he finally gets enough guts to go and do an open mic. And he actually does okay his first time and it’s… You get to really experience what goes on in his head and his lifestyle. And it was a lot of fun!

And Aaron Prager, who played the cannibal comedian, is outstanding. I said on another podcast: “You couldn’t do Ace Ventura without Jim Carrey.” And it kinda happens with this character as well! [Aaron Prager] was pretty much meant for this role.

Austin Prager stars as Charlie, the cannibal comedian!
Austin Prager stars as Charlie, the cannibal comedian!

Both: *laugh*

Lauren: Well, that’s awesome. Oh! And you mentioned music…

Will you be using some of Lucifers AXE’s music in the movie or…? I know you also write and use original music for your work in the past. So, will there be a mix of his and yours? Or just yours? Or…?

Sean Haitz: Yeah. I… I actually didn’t even talk to him about the music stuff! I get caught up in all the other things and I forget that he’s a cool and good musician…

And, I have all these songs that I wrote and I had pitched for TV shows and, for me, it’s like an opportunity to get all these songs in the movie. But, I could definitely reach out to him and see what songs he has too! For sure.

Lauren: *giggles* That’s so cool!

Sean Haitz: Yeah.

Lauren: So, yeah! I mean, you’ve got a background in music, right?

Sean Haitz: Yeah!

Lauren: Singer/songwriter. And then you’ve also done other films: The Mangrove Slasher 2, Big Top Evil, and you did a short called Swamp Zombie. So, you’ve been kind of doing things for a long time! How did you get into all that?

Sean Haitz: Funny you mentioned The Swamp Zombie! That was… I call that my first “real” film — with a crew and then we had it professionally edited and…

I was only… I think I was twelve or thirteen? And, you know, it was about a 15-20 minute short.

And, even way before that, my nana would come over to our house when I was really little — like maybe eight? nine? ten? — and she’d bring over her video camera. And she was a little bit tough to get that thing away from her! *laughs* But, as soon as I got my hands on it, I never let go of it. And every time she’d come over, I’d, like, grab it from her and then go on and shoot my own lil movies.

Cannibal Comedian clapper with S. Haitz written on it in the Director spot.
Sean Haitz: Director.

Lauren: *chuckles*

Sean Haitz: It’s… It’s just something natural! I don’t know what it was. It was my getaway drug. My love/passion from when I was very young. And I don’t know where that came from!

I have entertainers in my family… My dad’s a great musician and my mom’s an artist. So, I mean, obviously, it probably stems a little bit from that! But, yeah… It was just kind of in the blood.

Lauren: That’s awesome. But what made you drawn to horror — the horror genre in particular?

Sean Haitz: I’ll tell you!

Both: *laugh*

Sean Haitz: Simply Halloween. I loooove… I mean, every kid loves Halloween, but I am a little bit… I go to another level! Another extreme.

When I was like ten, I dressed as Freddy Kreuger. And my mom even did the latex. And I really turned into that character. And I don’t even think I saw the movie! I just saw pictures and maybe clips and stuff…

Lauren: *chuckles*

Sean Haitz: But we had a haunted yard — because we didn’t have a garage — and I had the neighborhood friends help me and we’d scare people. And we made a whole… You know. We had the fog machines. And we had a grave where someone popped out of the grave!

Lauren: Oh wow. That sounds great!

Sean Haitz: Yeah. Oh yeah! It was just a dream! It was my own mini Universal Studios in the front lawn.

And I remember kids were scared to come up. One of the gags, too, is that I would have one guy sitting in a chair with newspaper coming out of him… “Oh, he’s fake.” And then he’d jump out and…

Both: *laugh*

Sean Haitz: So, it was definitely… Halloween was the first love of horror. And, ever since then, I’ve always loved it.

And, I mean, nowadays, I can’t watch [horror movies] at night. I’ll have… Sometimes I’ll have really bad dreams.

The cannibal comedian spattered in blood and wearing a mask made of human skin
Gee, why would Sean have nightmares…? O_o

Lauren: Ah.

Sean Haitz: And it gets too real for me!

Lauren: Yeah.

Sean Haitz: But, to go and film? It’s spectacular.

And I do still watch… I still watch horror! For sure. But, yeah. It definitely… It gets to me.

The first real horror film that I ever sat down and watched all the way through was Scream. The first Scream.

Lauren: Oh wow! *laughs*

Sean Haitz: Yeah. Yeah. And I felt, like, the same feeling like I’d rode a rollercoaster! Like, I can’t believe I watched that movie!

And my mom drove me home from my friends and… I don’t know what she was thinking! I was like, “I love when the killer guts the boyfriend and his guts come out and… I can’t believe they showed that! It was amazing! And I love…! That was…!”

Lauren: *chuckles*

Sean Haitz: But I love the comedy aspect too! And that was the dark comedy part of it.

And then, I mean, to go a little more…uh…

I started doing stand-up comedy when I was… You know. A few years back.

Lauren: Ahhh!

Sean Haitz: Yeah. Yeah.

Lauren: I was going to ask if you also had a background in that! *laughs*

Sean Haitz: Yeah. I’ve always loved comedy and characters. In Mangrove Slasher [2], I played like five characters. I don’t know if any of them were good, but I…

Both: *laugh*

Sean Haitz: I turned into these characters! I had a big fake mustache on one character. And I played a stoner. Then I played a nerd. I’ve always loved all that stuff, too.

I have a love for horror and a love for comedy.

In Big Top Evil… We had cannibal clowns in that movie. And that was probably the birth of Cannibal Comedian, I would imagine. ‘Cause I love stand-up comedy and then I was already doin’ the cannibal thing… And that idea just came out of nowhere and then I just went with it.

Lauren: That makes sense.

Sean Haitz: Yeah!

Lauren: In Big Top Evil, you had a cameo from Bill Moseley, right?

Sean Haitz: We did!

Lauren: That’s pretty cool.

Sean Haitz: Yeah!

Lauren: How’d that come about?

Sean Haitz: So, it was well worth it because now we’re friends and he still promotes [Big Top Evil] to this day!

It’s true! I screencapped this recent Tweet from Mr. Moseley talking about Big Top Evil!

Sean Haitz (continued): Oh, okay. So. Real quick:

My uncle had a pizzeria down in Florida and Paul Reubens used to work for my uncle. And, so, I knew Paul Reubens. And I saw him way later… You know, like, years later. And I told him about my uncle and he said, “Oh, that’s really cool.” And then we became friends… Acquaintances! You know. Somewhat friends. We did hang out a couple times. He took me to a wrestling match one time! Which was just bizarre…

I’m hangin’ out with Pee-wee with, like, WWE people…

Lauren: *laughs*

Sean Haitz: And I’m like, “This is weird and… awesome!”

Lauren: *laughs* No wonder you have strange dreams!

Sean Haitz: *cracking up* I know!!

Lauren: *laughs*

Sean Haitz: *perfectly mimics Pee-wee Herman’s signature laugh*

So… [Paul Reubens] told me about Bill Moseley! Because he said he met him at the gym!

That was back when I was living in Florida. We shot most of Big Top Evil down there.

Then, I ended up going to Spooky Empire and I told Bill Moseley “Paul said hi” and that I wanted to see if he’d be interested in Big Top Evil. And Paul told me to namedrop him!

Both: *laugh*

Sean Haitz: So, Bill Moseley jumped up and he gave me his email and everything. He said, “That sounds great!” ‘Cause I told him “I want you to be an evil ringmaster.”

And so… yeah! He flew down to Florida for the day and we had him for, like, 12-14 hours. Got him in three scenes. And it was a lot of fun!

We were talking about making a Big Top Evil… His character’s name was Kharver. Mr. Kharver. And we’d call [the sequel] Big Top Evil: Kharver’s Last Circus!

Lauren: Ooh.

Sean Haitz: And just star Bill Moseley and make a really damn cool movie. And I hope that comes into fruition eventually!

Lauren: Oh, I’m sure it will.

Sean Haitz: Yes…

Lauren: I mean, you seem very determined to get things done, so…

Both: *laugh*

Sean Haitz: I guess so??

Lauren: *laughs*

Mis Sadistic as Eleanor in Cannibal Comedian.
Mis Sadistic as Eleanor in Cannibal Comedian.

Sean Haitz: Yeah. And, what’s cool with all my movies — from Mangrove Slasher 2 to this movie… And this is a lot of years! This is… We’re talking nine years in-between!

Lucifers AXE and Mis Sadistic… Lucifers AXE plays Sheriff Weaver and then Miss Sadistic plays a character called Eleanor in my new movie, [Cannibal Comedian]. And, they were in my movie Mangrove Slasher 2 and Big Top Evil and Cannibal Comedian!

And, also, Austin Judd — who’s a wonderful actor — she was in Big Top Evil. She played Candy. And now she has an awesome role in Cannibal Comedian. And the cool thing about her, too, is…

I knew [Austin Judd] was uber-talented! But, she got recognized by Bill Moseley’s manager, Judy Fox. She manages every iconic horror person — Kane Hodder, all those guys! — and she sparked interest with Austin right away. Because she just has that “It” factor and she’s really… She can be really sweet and crazy and has a really strong presence on screen! So, I knew I wanted to have her in Cannibal Comedian too.

Austin Judd rockin' her "It" factor as Chrystal in Cannibal Comedian!
Austin Judd rockin’ her “It” factor as Chrystal in Cannibal Comedian!

Lauren: That’s awesome! You’re gettin’ your own little round of “regular” people there!

Sean Haitz: Oh yeah!

Lauren: You don’t act in Cannibal Comedian… Not this time. You’re listed as the writer, director, and producer. Or do you show up in it?

Sean Haitz: I don’t!

I really just wanted to take the role as Director on set and just keep it that way. Because, on this movie, I was able to have an actual real… A small crew!

Like, on Big Top Evil, we were still kind of “student film” style, you know? Just trying to figure it out.

On [Cannibal Comedian], we really tried to have a real set! I had an AD, second AD, DP and his camera assistant, and we had a Grip… So, we had a small crew on this one. So, I really just wanted to focus on just being a Director.

Lauren: Oh! Well, that’s exciting though.

Sean Haitz: Yeah. Yeah. It was! It was very cool.

Lauren: And when will Cannibal Comedian be coming out…?

Like, I know it’s probably… It got kind of pushed back, right? Because of the pandemic and everything?

Sean Haitz: Actually, it didn’t get pushed back at all! We wrapped filming in February and some of the B-Roll and the little stuff we’ve been able to just do with one actor in the last week…

Lauren: Oh? Okay. So, it…

Sean Haitz: Just fill-in stuff.

Lauren: I guess you guys lucked out, huh?

Charlie leaning in close to Chystal in a pre “Social Distancing” world…

Sean Haitz: Yeah! I didn’t even know about… I know that people were talking about the pandemic before that, but we… There wasn’t even a thought! And we wrapped this thing up real quick.

And the DP was amazing too! His name’s Jacob. And he shot a MOVIE. When you see it, you’re like “Wow!” Like, you wanna sit back and have popcorn ’cause he really has an eye for cinema.

The last one I made was much more handheld and kinda artsy and grindhouse-y. But this one is like No Country for Old Men! Like, just a beautifully shot film!

And then, you know, what’s fun too is I did add on all my handheld B-Roll-y type of crazy camera stuff too in-between. So, you got this really nice-paced film with, like, some dramatic inserts of kills and things like that!

I wanted to add that little color of my own style to it…

But, the movie… So, we want to premiere it hopefully in September if things aren’t… I mean, I know the pandemic’s still happening. But, if we can do a small premiere — and social distance and stuff like that — here in L.A., we’re looking at September.

And then… You know, when the movie comes out — physically or digitally — that all depends on the distribution part. But I would love to release it this year…

But we will have a premeire this year!

Lauren: Okay. All right.

Sean Haitz: Yeah.

Lauren: And I guess, you’ll let me…

Sean Haitz: You’re invited! Yeah. You’re totally invited! *laughs*

Lauren: Oh! *flustered laugh* Well! I… I… That’s not what I was going to say, but…!

Sean Haitz: Yeah? *laughs*

Lauren: I was just… Let me know when it’s, you know, available for people — everyone — to watch and I’ll update all the links and everything! *laughs*

Sean Haitz: Oh yeah! For sure!

And what’s another bizarre thing is that we’re doing the premiere at the Workaholics’ house from the show [Workaholics]. A friend of mine owns the house that was in every episode. And it’s just a killer party house as well! Very iconic.

And some of the guys on there are stand-up comics and so we just thought it would be fun to have a screening outside at the Workaholics’ house. It’s different. But it’s a really cool place! I checked it out. I mean, it looks like a place to have a premiere. It’s very cool.

Lauren: *chuckles* That is very cool.

Sean Haitz: Yeah.

Lauren: And September’s not too far away! So, you know…

Sean Haitz: I gotta finish this thing!

Both: *laugh*

Lauren: Yeah! What are you here talking to me for?! *laughs*

Sean Haitz: I know! What am I doin’?!

Lauren: Well! So that everyone knows where to follow you and how they can keep up-to-date on the latest happenings with Cannibal Comedian and anything else you do, can you tell them where to find you? Please!

Sean Haitz: Yes! CannibalComedian.com! And we’ll have some merch actually. Coming up soon.

official Cannibal Comedian t-shirt
You can buy this rad shirt and other cool official merch at CannibalComedian.com!

Sean Haitz (continued): And, also… [the site] has links to our Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. So, with that, you can stay totally up-to-date.

And then you can join our mailing list too! And, you know, we’ll update everything with the premiere and the release and what’s going on.

And, also, on the website, it has behind-the-scenes. And LOTS of pictures! And some of the actors talkin’ about their favorite part of the movie… So people can really, hopefully, connect with what we’re trying to do here with this original project.

Lauren: Awesome! Is there anything else that you’d like to say before I let you go?

Sean Haitz: UHHHHHHH… She was pretty on the outside, but it’s her insides that really count!

Both: *laugh*

Sean Haitz: Yeah… I’ve got a bunch of those. There’s a lot of those puns.

Lauren: I guess we’ll be hearing more along those lines when we all see the movie, huh?

Sean Haitz: Yes, indeed!

Both: *chuckle*

Lauren: All right, Sean. Thank you so much for being on the show! Okay, Everybody: That was Sean Haitz of Cannibal Comedian and… yeah! Thank you, Sean!

Sean Haitz: Thank you! And I wanna just shoutout to Robert Dunne who plays Carrey, the owner of the comedy club. He’s fantastic in the movie, too. And… That’s it!

Austin Prager (left) and Robert Dunne (right) in Cannibal Comedian.
Austin Prager (left) and Robert Dunne (right) in Cannibal Comedian.

Lauren: All right! Take care. Buh-bye!

Sean Haitz: Okay! Bye!

###
All images and videos (other than the featured image and screencap of Bill Moseley’s Tweet) were provided by Sean Haitz.

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