Director Lars Von Trier may have recently created a stir by awkwardly joking about sympathies for Adolf Hitler and Nazis, at a press conference at the Cannes Film Festival, but Uwe Boll can create a stir all by himself, really — no Nazis needed. Whenever the prolific German filmmaker opens his mouth, he’s pretty much guaranteed to stoke some controversy or deliver some hyperbolic nugget. He’s an interview jukebox of golden soundbites. Still, his latest movie happens to feature Nazis, wouldn’t you know, and even a character he fought actor Clint Howard to have actively portrayed as Josef Mengele.
Of course, that’s not the most buzz-worthy thing about the new-to-DVD “Bloodrayne: The Third Reich”, in which Natassia Malthe returns as a half-human, half-vampire warrior who lays waste to a growing army of undead Nazi soldiers. No, that might be Malthe’s nude Sapphic coupling. Or it might be Boll’s contention that financiers of the movie ripped off the production, in its dwindling days, of a safe with 46,000 Euros. It depends on your perspective, I guess. Either way, we had the chance to catch up with Boll recently one-on-one, and the conversation, in his untouched, inimitable style, is excerpted below:
ShockYa: What challenges were there balancing this being the third film in a franchise, and yet also a kind of stand-alone period action film?
Uwe Boll: It was important to do this movie now, and have that second World War aspect, fighting the Nazis. From this point it is like a highlight. I said from the beginning that I will do a trilogy, and so on. And this is what the people were waiting for, basically. On the other hand, compared to the second… well, you can talk about that. (gesturing to Natassia Malthe, sitting nearby)
Natassia Malthe: Well, in the second part she’s more girly, and she’s not as strong. I really worked on the strength of the action. She’s kind of more on the dark vampire side here. She’s still fighting for good, but she’s now also battling her own demons, and that comes through in the character. She’s not just a girl, you can actually see the half-vampire in her.
UB: Yeah, and the fact that she’s now 300 years alive is cooling her emotions down. I think she’s now in the survival-killing mode, and not anymore in the I-change-the-world situation, where she was maybe in earlier years, yes? So I think this is an interesting thing with the whole franchise, to do different genres — to have a western, and a period piece like the first one, and now a war movie. So nothing is really redundant in the Bloodrayne world.
ShockYa: And of course you have Nazis.
UB: Nazis are the most influential villains in movie history, and I think the idea that Dr. Mengele wants to make Hitler immortal with [Bloodrayne’s] blood in a way makes sense. If you could create an army of Nazi vampires that could not like get easily killed, and they can be out night and day and never tire any way, maybe the war would change in the end.
ShockYa: You talk about this a bit in the movie’s audio commentary track, but Clint Howard didn’t want to play his character specifically as Dr. Mengele, did he?
UB: No, and I don’t get it, why. The whole time I told him, what is the problem with it? He wanted to do “Mangale” or something. He said no, and I argued with him, because people know [Mengele]. He’s the guy, basically, who did all the human experiments in the concentration camps, and was the most responsible person under Hitler to do [these] kind of tests. So historically, if somebody were to try make Hitler immortal it would be him. So why not use his name? We say also Hitler, not like “Hetler” or something totally stupid.
ShockYa: How was filming on location in Zagrab?
NM: I love Europe, generally, I think Europe is way better than North America. I’m European, I respect Europe more for some reason. The history. But, I mean, I respect America too. (laughs) But the cold was one thing. The shooting timing was very difficult, because there were a lot of times when I would be really tired and your creativity just dries up, because it’s cold out and your eyes are dry and red, you know? So there are a couple sections in the movie where I’m like, “Shit, that was where I was brain dead, and struggling.” I can tell. There’s two parts where I can totally tell. But the rest of the movie was really good. I was really inspired by the surroundings in Croatia, and it makes your part easier because you’re on a real set and feel the energy from the age of the buildings. That really helps your character. But there was also a scene with a lot of gunshots, and all of a sudden my coordination went out the window, so that was a huge issue. It’s one thing for one gun, but when there are 30 guns firing all at the same time, your body goes into kind of like a paralysis.
ShockYa: You had filmed in Zagrab before, right?
UB: Yes, in spring. And then we came back for “Bloodrayne” in the winter, and it was more miserable, especially outside. Out of Zagrab it gets rougher, but Zagrab’s inner city is very nice. You can walk everywhere, even in winter. But we had a lot of production problems this time, with (production company) Jadran Films. They let us down, actually. Did I say that on the DVD commentary? At the end they actually stole our safe. They were already gone, we were basically wrapping up, and then they stole our safe with like 46,000 Euros in cash out of the production office overnight. I think Jadran stole our money. That’s what I think. Say “I guess,” right, when you type this. But I was really like skeptical because who else would know that there was a safe? They were like really out there only to get their fees. They didn’t perform, and I was really upset with them. So I don’t want to say that they did it, or it was an inside job there or something, but it looked like this, yeah? Stuff like this was, in a way, pissing me off — the whole situation. But you have that a lot of times in the film industry, like in Romania. They all catch you with, “Oh, we’re so film-excited, we want you to shoot here, blah blah blah,” and then they don’t perform, they just take your money and let you down. And especially with that road up the mountain (a scene in the movie), it was like destroying us, because you could not turn the trucks — you had to go all the way down or all the way up, and this was an hour set-up before we could have trucks driving around the same corner. Then we had a ramp set up for an explosion when the truck goes downhill. The idea was that the truck would be lifted up in the explosion, but we could not put that ramp in because you have to drill it in the road. But always other cars came up with skiers. So we had no chance, and we finally just had to tell the stunt driver just when the explosion happens to just drive down, and he hit the tree. And for him, actually, that hurt.
NM: (worried) Oh, did he get injured?
UB: No, not like “In the Name of the King 2” where — oh, you were not there when the explosion happened. But not on purpose, and I cannot say it’s may fault! But it has to do with over-tired people losing it a little. If you work too hard, you get tired and then don’t care anymore, and then security suffers. It’s about truth. Like on “Bloodrayne 2” the whole railway station exploded. And on “In the Name of the King 2” we had an explosion by a guy who had to refill the gas heaters. He just didn’t do it in a place outside of the trailer circus, he did it in the middle of the trailers, and then like my car exploded, on the last shooting day. …I saw a fireball, and we had like eight people burned — flying through the air, hair burning. We had to tackle people down to put the fire out. So it was massive disaster, but not because of us, but because of the guy who re-filled the gas tanks. It’s a big insurance case now. You have 150 people on set and everybody has to stay focused or shit happens.
Written by: Brent Simon