It’s almost 6:00 and I’m running home hoping to make it in time. I worked late but had a phone date that I just could not miss. A once in a lifetime opportunity: a phone interview with Uwe Boll. The day before I had an email conversation and set up a time to talk to him at 4:00pm LA time, 6:00pm Midwestern time and I didn’t want to be late for my first phone interview. So I sped home and ran through the door barely making it in time and out of breath started dialing the number he gave me.
You might think that I’m kidding about being excited to talk to a man that the online video game community, to put it gently, loathes. I’m not kidding. Video games are a hobby of mine, but one of my favorite things to do is watch horror movies. There are a LOT of bad horror movies. Compared to the rest of the genre, Uwe Boll isn’t doing that bad of a job. Sit down and watch some Italian horror sometime, and I’m not talking Argento or classics like Zombie 2 (zombie vs shark!). I’m talking about Burial Ground-Nights of Terror. Hell, watch a lot of Asian horror and tell me you don’t get sick of seeing the same creepy children all the time. I’m generally entertained when watching Uwe Boll movies, even if it’s in an Mystery Science Theater 3000 kind of way. I’ve seen all his video game related movies so far.
So when I say I was looking forward to talking to Uwe Boll, I’m not kidding. The following is a transcript of our phone conversation:
Boll: Yes, hello?
Me: Hello, Mr. Boll?
Boll: Yeah, I’m here.
Me: I was wondering if you had a moment to talk about your movie Postal, and maybe a little bit about your movie career?
Boll: Ok. Good. No problem.
Me: I was just wondering how you got involved with Postal? Were you interested in the project or did they contact you about doing the movie?
Boll: Actually the Postal fan club approached me and I had never played the game before, so I played it and I had a lot of fun playing it. I think it’s, uh, I had a lot of fun playing it. It’s not a game that’s so great because of the technical stuff that is in it or the great production value, but it had a kind of underground, anarchistic feeling and I saw here an opportunity to make something special. And this is basically what I did and it gave me an opportunity to work in a different genre. I’ve done horror and action before, but to switch the genres a little and to make like an action comedy was a great possibility.
Me: Yeah, that was a question I was going to ask you about. How it was to change genres. I mean you’ve done mostly horror, and uh, action-horror, and this was a different type of film for you. Did you like doing this genre? Is this what you see yourself doing more of now?
Boll: Um, no, not really. I think this was my comedy movie, I might make another comedy at some point, but after I did Postal I did Tunnel Rats, a Vietnam War movie, and I did a movie that plays in a jail on a true story in Germany,
Me: Oh, really?
Boll: We’re not doing press for that technically, and so I don’t see myself making one comedy after another, but I enjoyed making a comedy and what’s definitely the point is that I can see Postal over and over again and still have a laugh and sit in the audience while everyone is laughing and it’s a different kind of thing than if you make a thriller where there is silence. You have no clue if it’s silent because everyone is bored to death or if they find it creepy, you don’t know that, with a comedy you know exactly where you are in the screening.
Me: Now you’ve done movies other than video game related movies, but you’re mostly known for your video game films. How many movies have you done that you would say weren’t related to video games?
Boll: Related or not related to games?
Me: Not related. I know you did a movie called Seed in the past.
Boll: Right, I did my four Germany movies all not based on video games. Then I did Sanctimony, Black Woods and Heart of America, 3 American movies, and then I did House of the Dead, Alone in the Dark, Bloodrayne, Bloodrayne 2, Dungeon Siege, Far Cry, Postal, and I felt also that it’s time to change it a little so then I did Seed which is based off of a book about the Death Penalty, and then I did Tunnel Rats which is a movie based off of a book which is about a squad who dug tunnels under the Viet Cong during the Vietnam war and basically this tunnel system was the reason that America couldn’t win that war in Vietnam. This is the first Vietnam war movie about this and with this Hamburg based video game company called Replay, we did a video game on this also,
Boll: Based on the movie.
Boll: So we turned it around. We made a movie, then found a company, and started working on making it into a game – with an Xbox 360 version also.
Me: Very cool. Now that you’ve gotten a bit of a taste for it, have you thought about making other video games or getting involved in the game making process? Or are you just set with making movies?
Boll: No, it’s like I’m involved with other projects also. Let’s say in the beginning of the whole thing, like in Sabotage from Replay, is not really born in the market in a way so I’m committed to making that movie. Same with Zombie Massacre (my note-Awesome movie/game title) we just got a few people from EA and they made a game with a million trillion zombies and maybe we’ll do this for Zombie Massacre. Maybe we’ll do both (again note from Matt-I hope so, and wonder what EA has planned with a game engine that displays a ton of zombies?). But this is also an interesting project, and I have a little more influence on how the game turns out. I think that this will also make the movie closer to the game; even characters that look alike and are voiced by the actors. I think this will be for game fans that this will help them a little calm down about me.
Me: (laughs) You know you have received a lot of criticism from gaming fans about going off of the plots of video games, but how much influence do the companies that make these games really have on your films? Or do do they give you any direction at all?
Boll: You mean what the game companies did before on my other movies?
Me: Yeah, yeah. Like before Postal, did any of the game companies on movies you’ve done, you know like SEGA with House of the Dead…
Boll: SEGA approved the script, Atari approved the script, Majesco approved the script. That’s all we ever heard from these guys.
Me: Oh, really?
Boll: SEGA at least traveled to the set of House of the Dead and played like extras and zombies, but Alone in the Dark I got nothing, and they didn’t even finish Alone in the Dark part 5 the video game (I laugh) and Majesco did nothing. Chris Taylor from Gas Powered Games, (my note-Dungeon Siege designer) he was very involved and very supportive and they even had a guy on set looking at how the brand was portrayed in a positive way and they even liked the movie.
Me: So with Postal did you have anyone from Running With Scissors, the development company for Postal, on set at all, or did they have any influence?
Boll: Yeah, absolutely. They were like the most involved people. In the beginning they hated me (I laugh) cause I was trying to make a comedy out of it and they did want that they wanted a movie more like Taxi Driver. But then they got more in more into it and I told them I couldn’t really make a Thriller out of a game where you can use a cat as a silencer (again, laughter). This should be better as a comedy. Slowly I convinced these guys and they came to set and there’s a part in the movie were he tries to kill me, so it’s like a movie in the movie where I play myself and he tries to kill me because I fucked up his game Postal (more laughter from me). It’s really absurd but it’s more for the insider in the movie and he had a blast doing it and now he loves the movie and was in New York for the press screening.
Me: That’s great. I think that’s probably a good idea to go with the humor, Postal would probably make a really odd movie if it was made as a serious film. Comedy is probably the best way to go with it. Now, you are probably one of the few people who have confronted their critics in a physical way, how did that feel? (Here I’m referring to the boxing challenge he made to his online critics. Google it.).
Boll: I think it was good. It was good to do it to show critics that they cannot get away with stuff you know, and a lot of people feel safe in their basement on their websites and destroying people online under fake names and everything. I think it was a good answer to with what I did, especially to this guy, so they did it, they chose to box me, and they lost. I don’t really think they trained hard for it.
Me: Yeah, I guess it was up to them to accept it. So that was a very unique that I think you put out there.
Me: But, uh, now, you’ve made a bunch of movies so far with a bunch of actors I love. Who was your favorite actor to work with?
Boll: It’s a little mixed up because you have some people who you work with and it’s great like Jason Statham or Christian Slater, but when it comes down to make press for the movie they disappear and they don’t do it and I’m pissed. You know I loved working with Jason Statham, but I was pissed at him for not making press and interviews for In The Name Of The King. It was great working with Ron Perlman. He’s a great guy, funny guy and very relaxed, and my favorite, a good friend of mine is Michael Pare. He’s also in Seed as the police guy and he’s very good and Kristanna Loken is defiantly a good friend of mine besides shooting, you know.
Me: Now you’re originally from Germany, right?
Me: Now, uh, do you think that maybe sometimes an American audience have a hard time understanding your sense of humor due to your being from a different country? Because it seems like there’s at least a little bit of humor running through your movies. Personally I’m a fan of House of the Dead and I thought there was a tone of humor throughout that movie that reminded me of other horror movies that I love. But it doesn’t seem like everyone gets that vibe from your movies. Do you think that’s because you’re coming from a different culture than the American audience? Or do you think people because distracted by the fact that it’s a video game movie?
Boll: It’s both. I think from time to time people get confused, but to be honest I’m also a heavy movie geek and watch a lot of movies, and I think a lot of my very commercial American movies are kind of very simple in the storytelling and very primitive also with a lot of huge mistakes and uh, even people in movies that are getting good reviews aren’t seeing that the basics are a little absurd, and I agree that actually stories like Bloodrayne are a little more complicated stories, but if you would sit down with me and show me the logical breaks where hey this makes absolutely no sense, I don’t think you’ll find that. I think you’ll find stuff that is completely unrealistic, but they’re creature movies or vampire movies but they’re not illogical, but there’s stuff I got harshly criticized for and it doesn’t have the real substance. If we were to look at a movie like 10,000 BC, Jumper, Elektra, Catwoman (I groan), I can tell you 150 other movies, and I don’t think these movies are one percent better than Alone in the Dark or Bloodrayne.
Me: I think I can agree with you on that. (Truth- force me to watch Elektra or Alone in the Dark, I’ll pick Alone in the Dark every time)
Boll: But they don’t get butchered like I get butchered.
Me: Yeah, I supposed that is true.
Boll: And it’s a little….here is the things that had me go off on the critics because here they pick one guy out and they stay on him forever and they bash him into the ground and I think to say House of the Dead was shit, Alone in the Dark was shit, and Bloodrayne was the same shit and Name of the King was the same shit…it’s unreasonable and over the top and absurd. I think if you see In The Name of the King it’s 10x better than the other three movies. It’s way bigger, unbelievable action, big stars, the story makes sense, and actually outside of America, where I got bashed also, ongoing, I got better reviews.
Boll: In every single territory where it came into the theaters it stayed two to three weeks in the top ten, from Germany, to Hungary, Turkey, Greece, and Russia. The thing is if you ask, the reviews in the US were the same bad reviews they give to all of my movies and they were completely personal. They weren’t like talking about the movies, they were talking about me. They start the article talking about me. Now in the last GQ magazine there was an article about me and everybody starts their article. “Uwe Boll is the worst, he’s the enemy, he’s [Garbled speaking that couldn’t be transcribed].” You know, and if you go movie by movie and if you put a little more filmography in it; like if you see the movies I did not make about video games like Heart of America, or you see a war movie like Tunnel Rats, or you see Seed as a horror movie and you still say this is the worst director ever – then the people are out of their minds. It’s completely absurd. I can go into a DVD store and show you 15,000 direct to DVD or TV movies that are way worse than my worst movie.
Me: Hey, I’m personally a fan of bad horror movies, and there’s a LOT of bad movies out there,
Boll: My main business with my company is sales yeah, so we sell movies from other producers. I get movies every week.
Me: Oh man.
Boll: I’ve seen movies of people looking for distribution.
Me: You’ve probably seen some bad…
Boll: I’ve been like “What the fuck where you thinking? Holy shit!” (laughter) Where are the reviews for these? But I’m Ed Wood, the worst of the worst, so then where are these guys listed? I don’t know where but…
Me: Now when critics go to see your movies, do you think they actually watch the movie, or do they see your name attached and go thinking that it’s automatically going to be crap?
Boll: Absolutely. I think they’re pre-stamped and don’t give it a shot. I’m happy that at least Postal convinced a few guys in North America that when they saw it they emailed and said they thought it was a total difference than what I did before and thought it was hilarious. So I’m happy that Postal will get a few good reviews and feedback. To be honest, as an independent you don’t get many chances within the system, and when I said, “Let’s go against Indiana Jones,” this is me saying that if I don’t get support and press and PR and internet or something for Postal I will not even get screened. So it’s very easy to bash me to the ground and try and destroy my movies because I don’t have that major set up behind me or a major company behind me getting that movie screened even if it sucks. And this is the point we see every week. When we have movies like last week with the movie Ruins for example, (I groan) and it’s a disaster! But they got the 2,500 screens for it and In The Name of the King only got 1,600 because I’m independent, and it’s not fair to do it this way. If I could get one shot, a normal release with real advertising behind it and advertisers to display the trailer, the movie would turn out also different. The box office results too, I got bad reviews in Germany for a time for my movies, but at the time I had 20th Century Fox release In The Name of the King, and we were number #2 opening weekend and we stayed 3 weeks in the top ten. And you know why? Because it was a Fox movie. In US it was freestyle independent, and it went down the drain and you have no chance but this is what the people are writing, “See? This movie bombed because it was shit.” when it had nothing to do with what the movie is. And we see the other side of that, with 80% of the major movies being completely crap, but they make box office out of it because they have the power and the money behind it.
Me: Yeah, that’s unfortunately true for the movie system is run. Um, you know speaking of Indiana Jones, I have to give it up to you. You must have the biggest balls in Hollywood to release Postal against Indiana Jones opening weekend. Now do you think, not I’m not saying you don’t completely have a shot here, but do you think it will help your movie that Indiana Jones starts on a Tuesday and your movie starts on a Friday?
Boll: This is one reason we decided to release it that weekend. No other movie is coming out that weekend. Not one of my other movies got covered by Entertainment Tonight, E!, Roger and Ebert, whatever. Even on In The Name of the King we didn’t get the big TV coverage. Jay Leno, David Letterman, whatever. My hope on Postal is because there’s nothing else, even if they bash it to the ground and say it’s disgusting, it’s vile, it’s awful, whatever, but I hope that they at least give it coverage. Get awareness up.
Me: Yeah, definitely. Sorry, this is taking up more of your time than I meant, but I wanted to ask you this: Postal, the videogame, received a lot of controversy when it was first released. Do you think your movie Postal will also gain a lot of controversy as well?
Boll: Yeah, I had a press screening in Chicago and a lot of critics were very offended, and refused to have an interview with me. I actually did one interview though six were scheduled. Five canceled because they were too offended by the movie. But if people have no humor… In Postal we pretty much offend everybody, every race, every religion, every relation, and because it is an all time offender, if you feel insulted, then I think it’s your problem. (I laugh) Because you are a stick in the old bullshit. The thing like, “My religion is better than another one” or that, “My race is better than yours,” and this is exactly why I did Postal. Because all the absurdity that we are living in is based on completely idiotic religious things where people think that they are better than others. In Postal there’s this one moment where our Postal dude makes a speech and it’s like, “Shut the fuck up newsflash fucktards” then he says “God doesn’t need your help, he’s God”. He says this to everyone with like the Taliban in front of him, so I think that this is the biggest problem we have on Earth that everyone thinks that they have to serve God or help Him or to spread His word or whatever. This turns people in that situation into fanatics because they’re flipping out if someone else doesn’t believe in what they say. They want to kill the people or brainwash people and this is the biggest problem in our political system is based on who believes in what.
Me: Hey I believe that. For all these fanatic believers seem to think only they know the will of some higher power somehow.
Boll: Yeah, like they know better or they’re the chosen people or whatever. I think this is completely disgusting and absurd and I don’t this this is okay. If we don’t change our thinking about it, we have a chance of going down the drain at some point. If you ask the people losing their houses with the real estate crisis or whatever. If we wouldn’t have pissed 10 trillion dollars in the Iraq war away, that there would be way more money in the national economy for people to have more jobs and this whole crisis would not have happened. But nobody brings that direct connection up even though that connection is completely obvious. I mean if you’re spending money in a useless war, it has a massive impact in what you can do in your city, for like building streets, and then your construction guys do not have jobs. It’s an avalanche that’s created when you spend money on bullshit. A few days ago the press said three hundred thousand barrels of oil are wasted every day in Iraq by the troops. Three thousand barrels of oil wasted a day for the troops to drive around in their tanks or whatever! Imagine how much money this is. Even if nothing is happening over there, hundreds of thousands of dollars a day gone.
Me: To bring it a little bit back towards the movie Postal, considering the reactions of the critics in Chicago who thought it was too controversial, do you think it’s a double standard how they reacted to your movie when other controversial films, like the Team America movie by the creators of South Park?I don’t recall ever hearing that they were denied interviews because of critics reactions. Do you feel that’s a double standard at all?
Boll: Um, that’s a tough question. You could be right on that. But in New York they reacted favorably to the movie. The movie starts with the world trade center attack, but in the middle of New York people were laughing their asses off. (My note- For context, there’s a joke at the beginning of the movie about the WTC attacks, it’s not as if people were actually laughing about actual footage of the attack.) One guy came to me, and he said his father died at the world trade center on 9/11 and he said he liked how I handled the beginning of the movie. What he thinks is the insult is that Bush used the attacks to start a war because he got paid by Haliburton to start a war with people who had nothing to do with the attacks. And I think he is completely right because we all know Osama Bin Laden had no contact with Saddam Hussein. So for Bush the best thing that could happen was the attack so he could start a senseless war. We know that the Al-Qaeda is financed by Saudi Arabs, but with the Saudis no one wants to start a war because they have the oil, and they are like best buddies. They give us public hangings and are completely absurd, and I think it’s time that people should know and they should admit it and talk about it. Consider the history and as soon as Bush is gone, I think that it is time to get out with the troops from when he is out of office. Hopefully it’ll be Obama or Clinton’s work to do.
Me: But hopefully Obama’s work.
Boll: Yeah, I agree.
Me: (Laughter) But just to get back to the movie… You’ve been making a lot of movies based off of video games. Is there any video game license that you haven’t yet made into a movie that you would be interested in making into a movie?
Boll: I was interested in World of Warcraft of course but then I couldn’t get it. Then I did Dungeon Siege, because I wanted to do an epic fantasy movie. I love Metal Gear Solid, but that situation was also messed up. I love Hitman and Silent Hill, but they’re now movies and I actually liked Silent Hill a lot. So right now I’m more open for new proposals. We had actually worked on Soul Caliber for a long time, and I got offered Virtua Fighter, but with Virtua Fighter what kind of movie can you really do? Like another Mortal Kombat kind of movie?
Me: Yeah, I suppose. So, um, I’m sorry. I don’t mean to waste your time or keep you on the phone for so long,
Boll: Maybe another question and then we’re done.
Me: Sure. Now I heard you were working on a movie version of the film Far Cry?
Boll: Yeah, we did it.
Me: Oh, it’s done already?
Boll: Yeah we added the last CGI. Basically the last thing to put in the movie and it’s in post production now. Til Schweiger plays Jack Carver, and I think it turned out… Well I did it like a sci-fi-action, “Die Hard on an island” sort of thing, but you have some of the things Jack Carver can do in Far Cry and this is the movie where I stay the closest to the game, because the story in Far Cry was already very good.
After that we wrapped everything up.
I have to thank Uwe Boll for the interview. I’m more used to doing interviews in person or through email, so I must’ve been kind of awkward on the phone. Uwe Boll was very nice over the phone and very honest with his responses. He sounded like a guy who would be fun to have a beer and watch a horror movie with – not the bogeyman of video game movies that people make him out to be. I also got the impression from speaking to him that he is very dedicated to making movies. Also, for future reference for video game fans that hold a grudge against Uwe Boll, it sounded like his first video game movies had little to no support from the development companies. Maybe things might have turned out a little differently if these companies gave a damn about the movies based off of their licenses.
We’ll find out if it makes a difference when Postal makes it’s way to theaters on May 23rd, 2008. Our Editor-In-Chief, Alex Lucard, has already seen the movie and he thought it was the best of Boll’s movies so far. If you are a fan of the game, it looks like the movie will feature the same type of humor that was in the game only with chicks in bikinis and midgets. Who can say no to half naked women and midgets?