In this episode of Space Castle, we take a look back at the wild and crazy story of Uwe Boll, a German filmmaker who held video game movies hostage in the early 2000s! Come along as we explore the strange and bizarre odyssey of Boll, and his one-man war against film critics and fans alike!
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Friends, if you were a fan of movies and video games in the early 2000s, you lived in perpetual anxiety of one man. A man who struck terror into the hearts of nerds the world over, for fear that he would snatch up the rights to your favorite video game, he would turn it into a piece of crap movie and he would irrevocably damage that franchise forever. A man who played no small part in damaging the legitimacy of video game movies until… man, honestly until maybe 2020 the the Sonic the Hedgehog movie came out!
Welcome aboard Space Castle! Our continuing mission is to explore the universe for all things Nerdy! My name is D.T., and I’ll be your captain for the strange and bizarre story of a German-born filmmaker who had made a few low-budget, independent horror movies, and even received some awards nominations for his work. Everything was going fine until he decided to acquire the rights and direct a movie based on the House of the Dead shoot ‘em up series from SEGA. What transpired for YEARS afterward is a confounding odyssey… and the Curious Case of Uwe Boll.
Born in 1957 in West Germany, Uwe Boll came into prominence and set himself on the path to absolute infamy when he somehow landed the gig as the director and producer for 2003’s House of the Dead, an adaptation of the popular video game series by SEGA, who clearly had no idea what the hell they were getting themselves into, or what they were about to unleash on the WORLD.
The film was loosely based on the games, which don’t really have much of a story anyway. If you spent any time in an arcade in the late 90s and early 2000s, you’ve likely played it or seen it played. You generally don’t get a ton of story from light gun arcade machines.
The film itself was largely unremarkable, but there for a cheesy laugh. Nobody really thought much about it. But that stupid movie was the spark that lit a fire in the heart of Uwe Boll. Two years later, he would go on to direct two more video game adaptations in 2005 – Alone in the Dark and Bloodrayne… and that’s when everything went to hell.
Now, I don’t know if Alone in the Dark unanimously being called one of the worst films of all time broke something in Uwe Boll, or if that something was already broken. I don’t know if Bloodrayne earning him nomination for both worst director and worst film at the Razzies in 2005 turned his heart black, or if it was black to begin with.
But the man launched an all-out war against film critics, the distribution company for those films, and fans of film and video games the world over.
He was an absolute menace, throwing around cuss words, calling people derogatory names, making bizarre public appearances, and… video game publishers kept freaking giving him jobs to direct movies based on their franchises.
The greatest personal insult to me came in 2007, when he released In The Name of the King, a film based on the Dungeon Siege franchise. Now, I had spent many hours playing Dungeon Siege with my friends online and at LAN parties. It’s one of my favorite hack and slash RPGs ever.
The series was forever tarnished by that piece of [bleep], and it damaged Leelee Sobieski’s career in a way that even The Wicker Man with Nicolas Cage couldn’t.
GOLDBLUM: Ah, ooh. Something’s happening. Uhh…
Goldblum? You okay?
GOLDBLUM: Something’s, ah… taking over? It wants to… turn me into something else. I’m not sure what—
[Static, and Goldblum’s face is replaced with UWE BOLL!
What the hell? Uwe Boll?!
BOLL: YAS! IT IS ME, UWE BOLL, THE WORLD’S GREATEST DIRECTOR OF AMERICAN FILM MAKING IN THE WORLD!
What have you done with Goldblum? How did you know to hack the Space Castle at this exact moment?
BOLL: I SPEND EVERY DAY OF MY LIFE SCANNING THE UNIVERSE TO SEE IF ANYONE IS TALKING ABOUT ME! I HEARD THE NASTY THINGS YOU SAID ABOUT IN THE NAME OF THE KING – THE FINEST FILM JASON STATHAM EVER STARRED IN!
Well, that’s a low bar, but—
QUIET! I AM NOW IN CONTROL AND YOU WILL APOLOGIZE FOR YOUR COMMENTS, OR FACE RETRIBUTION!
Uwe, your accent sounds vaguely Austrian instead of German…
BOLL: I KNOW! THE IDIOT DOING MY VOICE IN THIS EPISODE IS TERRIBLE AT IMPRESSIONS! BUT IT DOES NOT MATTER – THIS WILL BE THE LAST EPISODE!
So anyway, Gas Powered Games – the developer of Dungeon Siege – had a good thing going for them in the early 2000s. Their first title was a big success, was published by Microsoft, and they were well on their way. It seemed like everyone in the industry was quietly playing Dungeon Siege, and the company was poised as becoming the next big thing.
Gas Powered Games struggled to maintain that success, with diminishing returns in sequels and attempts at created other series, but that first game was still beloved – not least of all by me.
The series was close to running out of steam by the time Uwe Boll dropped a giant steamer on it, but the take away that came from the release of In The Name of the King was that no video game franchise was safe. At any point, the boogeyman who received the Worst Career Achievement Razzie in 2009 for that movie could come for your favorite video game, and create a terrible movie that would kill it dead forever.
Gamers had enough, film critics had enough, and a one man against the world battle raged on, including publicized petitions to stop him making any more films – actually backed by pretty large companies like Stride Gum, oddly enough.
BOLL: STRIDE GUM IS A BUNCH OF [bleeping bleeps].
…and yet, Boll still kept getting the rights to do more films. Maybe the publishers of these games felt that there was no such thing as bad publicity. Maybe it was some sort of tax write-off for everyone involved.
Boll himself has speculated that the video game companies contributed to the failure of his films by simply giving him the rights to their properties, letting him run wild, and not offering any sort of marketing support upon their release. Which, to me, actually sounds like an honest admission that his films are crap.
BOLL: HOW DARE! I CREATE MASTERPIECES THAT ARE IMPORTANT TO THE HISTORY OF FILM! YOU’RE GOING TO PAY!
[Static on the TV]
Uwe…? Goldblum? Are you there? Hmm…
What the [bleep?!] What the [bleep] is — UWE BOLL?! I thought you were gone! How are you outside?
BOLL: YAS! IT IS ME, UWE BOLL! OUTSIDE YOUR CASTLE SHIP!
I mean, it’s called a Space Castle, but…
BOLL: YOU THOUGHT I WAS IN IN YOUR LITTLE TV, BUT I’M ON YOUR SHIP! BY THE WAY, GET A PLASMA SCREEN YOU [BLEEP].
Tube TVs are better for retro gaming. The response time is way better — wait, a plasma screen? Wait, do you think it’s still 2007?
BOLL: SHAT AHP! I’M HERE TO FIGHT YOU! I BROUGHT MY BOXING GLOVES! COME OUT HERE AND BOX ME! I CHALLENGE YOU!
You want me to — no! I’m not going to box you out in space! Are you crazy? How did you even get out there?!
BOLL: I AM EVERYWHERE! I BEAT UP ALL MY CRITICS! I’M GOING TO TEAR YOU APART, JUST LIKE YOU AND YOUR FILM SCHOOL FRIENDS TORE APART BLOODRAYNE IN 2005 WHEN YOU WERE ALL 21 YEARS OLD AND STILL WEARING DIAPERS!
We never wore — look, it was one time, okay?! Film school was wild! Nerds know how to party, am I right?
BOLL: LET’S DO BOXING! MY FISTS ARE GOING TO LEAVE A REVIEW ON YOUR FACE!
…believe it or not, this actually brings up my next point: in 2006, Uwe Boll actually challenged many of his critics to box him in a public event. He sent out invitations to myriad online and print critics, and even Quentin Tarantino… for some reason? The boxing matches would be filmed and used in his then-upcoming film, Postal. Again, another video game movie.
And people actually showed up. Five film critics showed up at the event to challenge Boll, and Golden Palace.com even sponsored the event. One of the five fights took place in September of 2006 in Spain, and the other four in Vancouver, Canada later that month.
And Boll proceeded to beat the shit out of all five of them. Now, my dude Uwe outside my window right now clocks in at a modest 5 foot 8, but he’s got a hefty frame, and decades of experience in boxing at this point. Your average film critic… does not. Most were smaller than him, not entirely what I would call athletic (as an amateur film critic myself I’m allowed to say that) – aside from one who actually happened to be an amateur boxer, but this wasn’t a fair fight.
Here’s some footage of the event, courtesy of GoldenPalace.com. Again, Uwe Boll is 5 foot 8, meaning that dude he’s fighting is probably 5 foot nothing, and less than half Boll’s weight. These poor dudes took a pummeling, and some of them were even exhausted to the point of getting sick in the street outside after their match.
The kicker is, Uwe Boll invited several of them out afterwards – one even to his home – and grilled them on why they wrote bad things about his movies. And this is where it kinda gets a little sad: Boll really thinks his movies are good and important, and he actually took it personally when people panned them and called them pieces of crap. So he not only beat up people who hurt his feelings, he then invited them to hang out after and demanded explanations for their comments.
The dude is… an enigma. If all of his antics and silliness were just bizarre PR stunts and he wasn’t actually taking himself seriously, it would be one thing. But all of this clearly stems from deep insecurity, and an inability to process anything that isn’t praise.
If this was a fun-loving guy who undoubtedly knows a lot about and genuinely loves movies and just made schlocky films of his own because he could – for fun – his films might – MIGHT – be considered b-movie cult classics, now. But there’s absolutely no good will or intention there. The man demands such ire and dislike from everyone.
Anyway, Boll said afterwards that he liked and respected the critics who boxed him, and admired the courage they showed in being beat the [bleep] up in public by a guy who made sure it wasn’t a fair fight.
Boll actually got his chance for a fair fight a little while later, though. Seanbaby – a prominent internet writer and personality of the era (and a personal favorite of mine) challenged Boll to spar with him on G4’s Attack of the Show, to promote the main five-fight event. Seanbaby – otherwise known as Sean Patrick Reiley – was more than interested, was an avid participant in multiple styles of mixed martial arts.
Uwe Boll caught wind of it, and demanded Seanbaby’s height, weight and experience. Seanbaby hovers around six foot, was athletic, and the dude strikes an imposing figure.
Uwe Boll noped the [bleep] out of that real quick.
And, after several more years of nonsense – including pissing off Eli Roth, George Clooney and Michael Bay by calling them a terrible and thankfully out-of-use term for differently-abled folks, and making like TWENTY-THREE MORE MOVIES in SEVEN YEARS, Boll mercifully noped out of making movies as well.
In 2015, he released a video on Youtube, calling out the entire world for not contributing to a Kickstarter campaign to fund a second sequel to his 2009 film, Rampage. He believed the film was important and needed to be made, and the entire world had done both him and themselves a disservice for not donating money to have it made.
Boll continued to rant in the video – which now has like two million views or something – saying that he has enough money to play golf for the rest of his life if he wanted, and he didn’t NEED to make this movie, but it should be made because of its importance. I guess he must’ve taken some of that golf money and skipped a few rounds, because Rampage 3: President Down came out in 2016. Not enough reviewers saw it for it to register a critics score on Rotten Tomatoes, and sits at a 19% viewer score.
And that was it for Uwe Boll’s filmmaking career. He went on to… actually be a REALLY SUCCESSFUL restauranteur in Canada, believe it or not!
His restaurant, Bauhaus, was ranked 37th of Canada’s 100 best restaurants in 2016, and the place sported a Michelin star chef for a couple of years after opening. Boll himself even joked that he had to become a restauranteur to finally get good reviews. He made plans to open restaurants in multiple countries on multiple continents, and he seemed like he might’ve found the success and validation he sought for so long.
You were happy, right Uwe? You had Michelin star chefs working for you around the world, and your restaurants are apparently really good!
BOLL: I’LL NEVER BE HAPPY UNTIL YOU COME OUT HERE AND DO A FIGHT WITH ME!
Sigh… Success was apparently just too good for my friend out there, and he’s since announced a recent return to filmmaking. His first film in six years released in 2022. Because the world hasn’t suffered enough in the last several years, right?
BOLL: HEY, [BLEEP] YOU!
Alright, that’s enough! Get off my damn Space Castle, you weirdo!
BOLL: I’LL NEVER GET OFF YOUR CASTLE! BOLL STAYS!
[Static on the TV – Goldblum breaks in and out]
Goldblum…!? Is that you?
GOLDBLUM: Mommy’s very angry. Hang on, this is going to be bad!
[The Space Castle roars unto light speed, Uwe Boll spirals out into space.]
Goldblum! You did it!
GOLDBLUM: Ah, yes, ooh. I guess I did. I, ah, over-wrote his hack, and then, ah, overloaded the engines to shake him off. You, ah, won’t won’t be able to play Xbox or flush the toilet for a few days, but, ah… worth it, I think.
You bet, buddy! Way to go! And not a moment too soon, because I think that’s gonna do it for this episode of Space Castle! Our continuing mission is to search the universe for all things nerdy! And apparently leave crazy European film directors drifting in deep space along the way!
GOLDBLUM: Don’t worry… he’ll be back.
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This is D.T. — signing off!
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