It’s strange sometimes when the idea of something, or in this case someone, doesn’t correspond to the reality. There is so much about German director Uwe Boll everywhere and his confrontational behaviour is so well documented that when I met Uwe, I expected some maniac ready to strike me down just for having a tape recorder. In response to a review in Wired he agreed to an interview and then proceeded to launch into a angry tirade about the failings of the writer as a journalist and as a human being. He has challenged and beat up his critics in boxing matches and in response to a petition created to stop him from making more movies he has started his own petition to out petition that petition. He swears a lot, and says what he thinks even if it is out of anger. So imagine my surprise when I met him for an interview and found a relatively easy going man more interested in talking about movies than hating, although we did get to that. It was a little strange. As if the anger and frustration of being mocked and then fighting back had taken it’s toll… at least a little bit. It’s understandable why he feels exhausted. Ridiculed for his films based on video games (House of the Dead, Alone in the Dark, BloodRayne, and now Postal) his films consistently meet with terrible reviews, as if people take his films as personal attacks on something sacred. But whatever you think about his movies, I venture out alone of the film critic wilderness and unequivocally announce: His films just aren’t that bad. There, I said it. In fact, besides some of the acting and dialogue, they are absolutely not the worst films ever made, with BloodRayne offering some genuinely effective action and bloody fun, and the upcoming Tunnel Rats looking actually really good.
His latest film, Postal, is a departure from what he refers to as his genre films, and is a conscious effort to resort to comedy, however tasteless and shocking, to fight back at the world. If you liked films like Cecil B Demented_or _Harold and Kumar go to Guantanamo, there is no reason for you to hate this movie. You might even like it. Plus there’s full frontal Dave Foley.
ONLY: Hey congratulations, the screening was good.
Uwe Boll: Thank you for this, yeah we’re fighting our way up to the screens. Let’s say it this way, yesterdays reactions were very good so that the Empire group will hopefully report that internally and we will get more screens now in Canada. And this is the thing, the only chance we get more screens is if next Friday, the screens they play at makes some box office.
ONLY: Well yeah that’s always going to be the underlying difficulty for any independent filmmaker.
ONLY: You mentioned when you introduced the film that it was a big kind of “fuck you”, a work of love and frustration. Do you feel that you got that emotion out in the film? Do you fell more calm?
UB: Yeah, absolutely. I was really happy with Seed (yet unreleased) and Postal which I shot back to back. But in Seed there’s a scene where a guy’s, like, hammering a woman’s head away.
UB: It’s like four minutes, no cut. And it’s very expensive. Because you have the 3D model of her, you have the dummy and you have her… anyway this is the scene, and I went to a few festivals and showed it and even with the big horror crowd, there was dead silence. Like this is when the movie is no fun anymore, even the biggest horror fan was shut up, and it was like… “fuck.” But now, in Germany they have released an edited version, with the hammer scene cut out, and it destroys the whole movie because I made the movie so that it escalates to this. And this is how I felt. Like I really want to put the hammer in my hand and smash everything. And in Postal I did that with humour. And I’m very happy with the movie and I’m very happy so many actors went for it and gave me more than other actors would give. Like Dave Foley.
ONLY: Yeah he gave a really funny, understated performance.
UB: Exactly. And this was what I felt, and the audience reactions have been good, but the negative thing is if you feel like you are really getting boycotted, you think like “What the fuck?” I can not believe that this actually happens in times like today. Like to get boycotted in a way, after the whole political disaster of the last few years, it shows they didn’t learn. And that makes it double frustrating. Like if you do something out of the blue and you get a boycott because of hard core pornography in a movie and they say we won’t play it, it’s kind of believable. But to boycott this movie now…
ONLY: It’s a real sign of weakness when you begin to fear comedy. I’m mean, Postal is a comedy, and while I suppose it may be kind of shocking to some people, I thought it plays with some really good humour. Like the appeal to humanity during the big shoot-out. Is that something you believe yourself? That there is that connection between all people around the world, no matter who you are?
UB: Yeah, but for me the thing was that it didn’t stop them. Sure they thought about it for a minute, then they were like “shoot him!” And this is exactly what happens in reality. Like for example, the whole Israel/Palestinian conflict. Like you have an idea and then maybe for a bit they all calm down. And maybe there will be peace. Then one idiot blows himself up again, then Israel fires some rockets into a kindergarten and then it escalates, and it’s been going like this for thirty years. And you think that if these guys would use their brains and put everything aside, like their history and religion and realize that we all live on the same planet, let’s get on with it and forget about the fucking border and it doesn’t matter anymore. I know this sounds simple and easy to suggest that people push all this bullshit away but it is also impossible. It’s impossible because we are all getting too much influence from the old culprits and the old religions and the old bullshit basically that is proven wrong. And I think in this way Postal is a very important movie. It opens up the discussion that maybe we are all on the wrong trip. Like there are these Hollywood films that are coming out like In The Valley of Elah that are missing the point. They are not looking at the big picture. And I think that Postal, in a ridiculous way, shows the big picture.
ONLY: This is once again based on a video game. What’s the appeal been for you to use video games as a jumping off point for you movies?
UB: Well, video games based movies is the best and the worst of what has happened to me. Like, they opened the gate to wider distribution, bigger movies, bigger stars, more money and at the same time they destroyed my chance to get recognized as a serious filmmaker. I wish people would look into the details and see that Seed or Tunnel Rats, which is a Vietnam movie, or Postal are not just mindless entertainment, they are not like House of the Dead or Alone in the Dark which are only genre pictures, and I never tried to do anything else but make genre movies with those ones.
ONLY: And that was your goal all along?
UB: Absolutely. With BloodRayne, I didn’t try to make an art house movie. They are genre movies and I think they are entertaining.
ONLY: And BloodRayne was really well shot and was visually pretty interesting and had good gore and action.
UB: I’m happy that you see this, because if I got BloodRayne out and it had all these really good actors and after Alone In The Dark, which had Tara Reed, you felt like it was a different movie. And then you get the same reviews and you get bashed to the ground and you get 800 shitty screens in shitty towns and of course the movie tanks. And everybody who was writing about me was like” His movie tanks,” or “it was a disaster,” or, like, “his movies are a piece of shit,” and nobody looks at the details, behind the curtain. And with a movie like BloodRayne with Meat Loaf, Billy Zane and Udo Kier, and you make it in Transylvania, in Romania, and you read the same reviews. This is annoying, and you think “what the fuck is going on? You’re out of your mind.” People will write about Ultraviolet and give it three stars out of five and I get one star out of five, and I think they must have something on their eyes, they have a filter because the movie was made by me. And this was the reason to sit down with Postal and do it on my own. And the only good thing I hope that will come out of Postal now, because it can not turn into a box office success, is that people will see me differently and that they will change maybe their opinion a little, and if Seed comes out or Tunnel Rats, they will judge those movies differently.
ONLY: Well it certainly helps that Postal had a stronger script. So to be able to take your frustration and turn it into something like Postal is certainly a good thing.
UB: And I think for me it was really important. And I’m really proud that I stayed to the plan. Because I didn’t really have a lot of support even from Brightlight, my Vancouver production partner. They didn’t support Postal, that’s why Pitch Black is written [as the production company] and not Brightlight. Because they didn’t want their name associated with the movie so they used Pitch Black instead. And so it was not a very easy movie to make. Especially when you hope for support from the right people then you don’t get it.
ONLY: Yeah, like it seems that you were trying to make something different here and to have people who have been on this ride with you already drop out would be pretty frustrating. Now within each of your films there are really good action scenes, apart from the genre aspect, would you consider yourself an action film director?
UB: First of all I’m used to it, in all of my movies there is action, whether it’s a thriller and sci-fi or whatever. I always try to show a lot. For me it’s important that the action is believable, that it is graphic. I’m not a big fan of PG-13 movies. So to make it a little more radical I like that. To make it a little more photo-realistic. I definitely like to do action scenes and to show the violence. Like the shoot-out in Postal, people ask why it’s there? But I think that in the escalation, if everybody grabs guns they will start shooting. It’s only a question of time before it escalates. That’s one of the biggest – let’s say mistakes – in the U.S.A. That people can still carry weapons. Because this is the first key. That you are not allowed weapons in private houses. That would stop a lot of shooting. This is one absurd thing. But also that scene is there to show the guns through the blue sky and, that was kind of my Leni Riefenstahl homage you know, that it all looks so nice in a way, and then everyone gets shred up in pieces… like violence is so nice, in a way.
ONLY: It’s kind of like if you give everyone guns they will shoot, if you give everyone bread they will eat.
UB: Yeah, exactly. I also like the fact that in the movie the Taliban are directly together with the lynch mob and nobody even questions it. And the lynch mob even accepting of them because they are all going against the Postal dude.
ONLY: I watched one of your frustrated video rants, and I should say that I feel the same way about Michael Bay.
UB: Hahaha! His attorney wrote me after one of those things, like he always answered to the things, but he’s a complete idiot and would say like “Uwe Boll and his shitty movies blah blah blah,” and then his attorney wrote me and said “don’t do anything anymore or we will sue you blah blah blah,” and whatever. But he can go fuck himself. It’s like I talk so long as I want about him as a director, who can not allow me that. He is a public person, he’s a director, I could write a book about his movies whatever and I don’t care. But the point is that it shows the whole system. Like I know someone who worked on Transformers and he said that Michael Bay cannot look you in the eyes. And that he’s taking cocaine all over the place and always coming in wearing designer stuff to the shoot so that it looks like he’s thrown this all together but really it’s like five hundred dollar t-shirts. It’s just this kind of fake people.
ONLY: It’s this kind of glossy crap where you throw around millions of dollars for something that goes no where.
UB: Exactly. Like you could make a movie like Bad Boys 2 but why is it two-and-half hours long and why did they spend 150 million dollars to make a movie like this.
ONLY: Whenever I see his movies I feel like the money would have been better spent feeding an African country.
UB: Yeah, totally. Like I read the production report for I Am Legend and in New York they had like three hundred people stopping the traffic for that movie, and you think that now with all the digital possibilities, and there is a lot of digital effects in that movie, why the fuck they didn’t shoot a clean shot at 5 o’clock in the morning when the sun gets up, you would save like 25 million bucks. But this is the way they operate.