Exclusive interview: Uwe Boll, the devil himself?

Uwe Boll. The name, to some, is like battery acid in the ears. He is the notorious director of House of the Dead, Alone in the Dark and BloodRayne. Reviled by gamers and movie fans in droves, he is said by his harshest critics to be ‘the worst director in the world’. However, upon seeing the opening footage from his newest movie due to arrive in the fall, Postal, I just may be prepared to give him a chance. I too have not always held the most favorable opinions of Dr. Boll in the past, but with the politically incorrect splatter sensibilities of his new satirical outing, could a place have been found for the man who once punched a slew of critics in the head?

The success of Boll’s latest venture remains to be seen, but it would have been foolish for Destructoid not to try and speak with the man beforehand. Try we did, and it pleases me to say that I had a very long, pleasant phone conversation with Uwe Boll himself to discuss Postal, the heavy criticism he has received in the past, and just how he defends himself to angry gamers the world over. Hit the jump for what I feel is perhaps Boll’s most interesting and honest interview yet.

[Major props to Bioautographical for vidding the soundclip. Yes, that’s Uwe Boll saying “also cocks.” Please note as well, that adult language is used during the interview, so hide the chilluns.]

Destructoid: Mr. Boll, you’re currently working on Postal, a movie adaptation of the controversial Running With Scissors series of videogames. Tell me about what drew you to Postal in particular, and how you went about creating a movie based on that game.

Boll: Postal was bringing me back to my roots, basically. In 1991, I did my first movie, German Fried Movie, that was a harsh, politically incorrect comedy, and then I went away from this kind of movie and did more thriller/horror, these kinds of drama movies. There was an opportunity to go back to my comedy roots, but at the same time use the marketing tie-in with the videogame and this kind of stuff, what I need to finance movies.

Destructoid: It’s quite a departure from what we’ve seen you do in the States and while a lot of people have been offended by your movies before, this is the first time in the States that it’s been intentional. Do you think shocking, politically incorrect comedy might be your niche? You say it’s back to your roots so do you think it’s a style you’re going to stick with now?

Boll: Not a lot of people saw German Fried Movie outside of Germany but people who know me know I have a very rough, black, really dark humor, so Postal was an opportunity for me to present this kind of cynical humor and to make not a comedy that Hollywood would do normally. A comedy like Wedding Crashers is of course funny, but it’s not harsh. In Postal, we make fun out of everything — out of September 11th, out of terrorism, out of religion, muslims, christians, jews. Nothing is holy and everybody gets his piece of the cake in Postal. This was the whole point, to make a movie about that self-censorship in our head.

It helped me that BloodRayne was not a real success in the theaters and I felt kind of depressed about it and was pissed about it. I was pissed about the internet reviews, I was pissed about all kinds of things and in that general mood, to write a movie like Postal was good for the script because I really went further to do something with no rules where nothing is sacred and where I [could] give a shit about what is politically correct or incorrect, what could get an R rating or an NC-17 rating. So it’s basically a movie made out of free spirit, let’s say it this way.

Destructoid: You’ve spoken very highly of Postal in interviews before, so this is clearly something you’re proud of. Would you rate it as your greatest movie to date? Better even than BloodRayne, for instance?

Boll: Absolutely, Postal is by far my best movie. I don’t want to downplay all my other movies into pieces of shit, it’s not this case. I think Postal is the first movie I did where now, after it’s done, I would not change anything. I have in every other movie, stuff that I would change or that I would make different, but Postal is the opposite, Postal is something that I have to say is better than what I was expecting before and it is definitely by far my best movie and I think a lot of people, [if] they see it, they will be very surprised.

We showed it on the weekend at the Fangoria convention in New York and the people loved it. Half of that audience was not pro-Boll, they were like, people that trashed my other movies and they definitely looked into it in a different direction. What I mean is, they start [watching] the movie and they were not maybe supportive of the movie and then after the movie was finished they said like, “holy shit, this is not a good movie, this is a great movie,” and this is what it is. I think Postal is one of the best movies of the last ten years, and if it gets out there, you give it a shot and just see if you would see it, but it is not a good movie, it is a fucking great movie. I think it’s the most important movie after September 11th. No other movie summarizes the political self-censorship up like we did with Postal.

Destructoid: You say Postal is the most important movie after September 11th, would you say that Postal is better than Lord of the Rings?

Boll: No no no no, this has nothing to do with it, I don’t want to compare Postal to other movies. I said it’s the most important thing because it’s a political movie. What Hollywood came up with after September 11th was like, World Trade Center or Jarhead, these kind of movies and I think these movies are not really critical. These are not movies [that] really criticize something in a way or are movies made with courage, and I think Postal is something that I would say presents the right of freedom of speech, the right of free thinking and it presents also that something on the September 11th situation was fishy, that the September 11th was not that what the massmedia presented to us. This is the one thing, and the other thing is, it’s also a critique against our kind of self-censorship in regards of religion, that we are all like, in a way, pussying out in front of the Bible Belt or in front of the muslims and then we say “we understand it’s your religious freedom”, but all that shit’s supports tons of wrong stuff. That the bible belt christians really believe god made humans with his hands out of dirt and that Bush said “God told me to start the Iraq war!”   –this is scary.

We have two big problems here, we have the global warming and we have — not the fight against terrorism — I would turn it around, I would say we have stupid wars going on because people think and believe in different things. These are two big problems and we may be going all down the drain because of completely out-of-their-mind religious people like the fundamentalists or like that Bible Belt George Bush idiot ruling what’s going on on the planet and I think Postal is the only movie that really really really makes that point without any respect and this is the reason why I think it’s the most important movie because it’s a kind of approach to fight for that freedom of speech and to fight also for the point of view that I maybe have, but I’m sure I’m not alone with that.

When I showed it in New York at Fangoria there were people in the screening, they lost family members in the September 11th attack and they came to me after the screening and they said, “this movie’s fucking great,” even if we make a joke about about September 11th and we fly by accident into the World Trade Center in the movie, they liked it because it showed the whole political lie around the whole September 11th and around the Iraq war and this kind of stuff and from this point of view I think it’s an important movie. Sometimes the critics have to change their point of view of a director. I’m counted as the guy who did House of the Dead, Alone in the Dark, the cheesy videogame-based movies but I did German Fried Movie in Germany, I did A Murder in Geneva that was a political documentary in Germany and I did Heart of America about school violence. So it’s easy to see me as the videogame-based director but if people really look into what I did, then they find out I was very political from the beginning of my career.

Destructoid: I actually agree with you that shocking comedy is often the best way to make a political point. I’ve seen footage of Postal and I do have to say it looks very good. Are you worried about getting backlash for some of the politically incorrect humor in there?

Boll: Yeah, absolutely, it’s super tough to get screens for Postal for example. It will be super tough to get an R rating for the movie itself. I hope that we’re not getting censored by the theaters in a way that they say, “we don’t play that movie because we have a different political opinion.” I think it is a right for the public to see that movie. I’m not aiming for Postal [to have] two thousand screens, but I think it should definitely come out on four or five hundred screens to get attention and people can see it. It’s not a movie that you have to have in every multiplex because the people that want to see it, I think they will also go on their own and they [will] look out for the theater where it’s running.

Destructoid: Okay, we’ll step away from Postal briefly. You’ve become almost, as you say, exclusively associated with film adaptations of videogames, and there are quotes attributed to you saying you’ve never actually played a videogame in your life. As a non-gamer, why do you find yourself drawn to the videogames that are the foundation for your movies?

Boll: Yes, but this is not true, I’m not a non-gamer. I play games, I have an Xbox and everything. I’m not a hardcore gamer, like playing every day for four or five hours, but I play videogames. Every game I’ve made a movie of, I play, but I don’t know where you got that from, I never said I never play any games, but on the other hand I think out of games you get a good story idea, some interesting characters, you get good production design, interesting production design and you have of course a marketing tie-in and if you go out there as a film maker and try to raise money and you say “I’ll make a movie out of a famous videogame,” let’s say it’s easier to acquire some money [than] to make an original script. This was for me the marketing point, to say, “let’s make some movies out of videogames,” and this was easier then to finance the movie.

Destructoid: Your game choices are unique to say the least. BloodRayne, Dungeon Siege, House of the Dead. So far you’ve not gone for any of the typically ‘big’ licenses, aiming for more obscure and less popular games. Why is this, and how do you go about choosing which games to adapt? What must the games you choose have in order to meet the Boll standard of excellence?

Boll: The first thing is, House of the Dead came to me from Mindfire, it was completely developed and the first movie [to make] me think about making more videogame-based movies, and I don’t think House of the Dead was a small property. Also Alone in the Dark is a classic game, just now Alone in the Dark 5 came out, but it’s not like Splinter Cell, from how much they sold. I liked Alone in the Dark, I like the game, it’s a creepy game, I like the character Edward Carnby and I like the whole approach. Also Atari, they promised the fifth installment of the game would be finished on time when my movie came out and you see now when it came out, almost like two years later, so I was a little ‘alone in the rain’ with the movie then because Atari didn’t deliver it.

BloodRayne, I acquired because I really like the character. I always look out for a strong hero, a playable hero basically. If Transformers is doing good now, then who knows? Maybe Halo gets another shot, but there are some games that are very good in sales but not so interesting or good as movies. This was for me the point of view, to look into games that have a strong character, like Far Cry. Jack Carver is great and Far Cry is, of course, the biggest franchise I have so the game is definitely the most successful game I have right now.

Dungeon Siege [is] not the biggest game, it’s a well known game but on the other hand I couldn’t get Warcraft, they wouldn’t sell it to me. I wanted to make an epic adventure movie and with Dungeon Siege was the opportunity to do it and last week we had the exhibitors here looking at the movie and Gas Powered Games, they loved the movie, they were really happy with the movie.

Destructoid: There were rumors a while back that you were interested in directing a Metal Gear Solid movie. The game’s creator, Hideo Kojima was adamant that you were not to touch his series. What do you think of Kojima’s lack of faith in your ability to do the MGS series justice?

Boll: It was a messed up situation because I got a script for Metal Gear Solid from two French writers, and they said they had the approval from [Kojima] that they should approach me. So I read it, I said of course, Metal Gear Solid is super, I love it and I would do the movie. Then I got the internet response from him that he was not even involved in that script development and it was basically a messed up situation. What they did was, they wrote a script on spec and tried to attach me as a director in the hope that he would agree to it and hire these guys as the script writers and we would do the movie together, but they were wrong. I don’t know why he didn’t like my movies, I’m not sure what movies he saw, maybe he looked only on the internet and saw the bad reviews and thought I [was] the wrong guy to do it. I don’t know, I never talked to him.

Destructoid: Many videogames, as you say, have a built in market already, but they also have very loyal fanbases who often don’t want their beloved titles ‘tainted’ by Hollywood. Have you ever worried about the fears of gamers, have you taken those fears into consideration when you take on a movie and do you care what fans of the original game think of your movie translations?

Boll: Yeah, look I always try [to make sure] that the fans love the movie and for example on BloodRayne, after the theatrical release, a lot of people saw it on DVD and they emailed me [to say] that they actually really like the movie, because I followed a lot [of] what’s in the game — you need blood to get your energy up, the way she looks, her costume, the way she fights, the whole basic story was all from the game. I didn’t go far away from the game and delivered a really gory, straightforward, sexy movie, which is the game also, and a lot of people admired it. They said look, it’s not a PG-13 Hollywood studio movie, it was more an independent movie with a great cast and they liked it.

My biggest problem is that, whatever, two thousand, three thousand Boll haters in the community, they are very active, they are writing in the internet that I’m the biggest loser and my movies are so bad and blah blah blah blah blah and they’re all writing it even before they saw a movie. You see now, in Dungeon Siege, nobody saw but already I get bad reviews for it, this is my biggest problem, but BloodRayne sold nine hundred fifty thousand DVDs and so if now three or four thousand [are] writing I’m the biggest asshole on Earth, I think there must be somebody additional there, they actually like my movies, otherwise they would not buy it. From this point of view, [laughs] I try to get optimistic that not everybody hates me, basically. I only ask, give the movies a shot and see it with a free brain, don’t get tainted from some internet voices, sit down and [watch] the movies.

When I went to Fangoria on the weekend, I think I signed at least a hundred copies of House of the Dead, Alone in the Dark and BloodRayne when the fans came up and wanted a signature and I’m not sure that they would do it if they really think the movies are also crappy.

Destructoid: Does critcism of your work influence the way you do it? Are your movies and your direction style affected and influenced by the negative press you often seem to attract? Do you ever take that into account?

Boll: Absolutely. I never used videogame elements again after House of the Dead, I never used Tara Reid again after Alone in the Dark. We hired better writers for the movies after Alone in the Dark and BloodRayne I think was already better. In the Name of the King and Postal, I think for a lot of people [they] will be a big surprise. We spent more time in the whole script development and everything.

Destructoid: You said that you like to stay true to the spirit of the games you adapt, but for instance, Alone in the Dark was a horror-noir game and you made it into a Matrix-esque action film. You take a lot of liberties with the source material and many would say they resemble the originals in name only. Do you think you deviate too far from the games at times or are you happy with the amount of creative license you use?

Boll: I agree. I agree with Alone in the Dark, that I went too far away from what the game was about and it’s more an action-creature movie than it is a horror movie and we will try to correct that because I [will] produce, in the summer, Alone in the Dark 2, that will be based on the game and it will be a pure horror movie and I hope we will have something in the second part that is closer to the game.

Destructoid: It has to be said you’re not the most popular man in the gamer community. Who would you say that gamers hate more? You or Jack Thompson?

Boll: I want to answer the first part. Look, did you really think Dead or Alive was better than Alone in the Dark or BloodRayne or House of the Dead? Or was House in the Dead 2 better than House of the Dead? Or was Resident Evil 2 really a good movie? I’m not so sure. That’s the thing, did you see those movies?

Destructoid: I have to agree I was able to watch BloodRayne from beginning to end, I haven’t been able to watch Resident Evil from beginning to end, you do have a point there.

Boll: I like Resident Evil, but Resident Evil 2 I think was really bad. I don’t want to get compared with other people. I always try to make in my movies something that a Hollywood studio movie would not be doing and I tried with the first House of the Dead movie to do something that nobody else did before. I wanted to try and get the illusion you are almost in a videogame. This was a mistake, yeah maybe it was a mistake but it was also kind of a pop culture element brought into that movie with that overdrive action in the big battle scene of House of the Dead where you’d have like, twelve thousand cuts in fourteen minutes, it’s crazy. Some people like it, some people say it was so overdrive and crazy, but I would not say House of the Dead or Alone in the Dark are my best movies, I think they are entertainment and not something I’m super proud of. I still regret that I didn’t fire Tara Reid on day two and replace her with an unknown but better actress and from this, Alone in the Dark suffered. I actually like Christian Slater and Stephen Dorff, I think they were good.

Destructoid: Okay, if we go back to Postal to end on, how many countries do think are going to ban this?

Boll: I’m not sure. First we go out in the UK, US, Canada and Germany, these are the first countries in October taking Postal out and then everybody else goes from there. We sold it to Russia, we’re selling it to Italy right now. I sold it to the Middle East, the guys in the Middle East they think [either it will] get them hacked in pieces or they’ll have the biggest hit in the Middle East ever because we put Osama Bin Laden in the movie. They were ready to do the gamble and there will be at least ten, fifteen territories [that] will not play Postal. Israel said they cannot play it, they’re getting like, bombed and France said they cannot do it because there are too many fundamentalists in France and they were scared.

This is another good reason why a movie like Postal is important, because where are we right now? We pussy out in front of threats from people that say, “oh if you show that movie, we throw a bomb in your theater,” so it’s a big question for all of us, that we all can get blackmailed already. It starts with the fundamentalist stuff but it didn’t stop, if you go [into] details in the US advertizing industry, there are whole TV channels, they cancel TV shows because they are ‘non believer’ TV shows and then the big Bible Belt companies, they say, “we don’t book advertizing here if you keep showing that serial.”

Destructoid: When can we go and watch Postal?

Boll: October 12th.

Destructoid: Finally, I’ve been asked to ask you, as a boxing expert, who you think would win in a fight between a bear and a gorilla.

Boll: A bear and a gorilla? The bear would win because the bear would bite him. If the bear has a mouthpiece on, he would lose. I think a gorilla is better at hitting [laughs].

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