Brock Wilbur is a comedian and writer who is married to prominent feminist political journalist Vivian Kane, and cohabitates with three terrible cats. He produces political podcasts for Crooked Media, works in special projects for Riot Games, and serves as Editor-in-Chief of Kansas City's The Pitch.

Nathan Rabin is the author of six books, the proprietor of Nathan Rabin's Happy Place and the cohost of the Travolta/Cage podcast. He lives in Atlanta with his wife, dog and two sons.

Boss Fight Books: Postal by Brock Wilbur & Nathan Rabin

In 1997, game studio Running With Scissors released its debut title, Postal, an isometric shooter aimed at shocking an imagined pearl-clutching public. The game was crass, gory, and dumb—all of which might have been forgivable if the game had been any fun to play.

Postal gained enough notoriety from riding the wave of public outrage to warrant a sequel. And DLC. And a remake. And, perhaps most surprising of all, a Golden-Raspberry-winning feature film adaptation directed by the infamous Uwe Boll.

In this thoughtful and hilarious tag-team performance, Brock Wilbur & Nathan Rabin probe the fascinatingly troubled game and film for what each can tell us about shock culture & mass shootings, interviewing the RWS team and even Boll himself for answers. Like it or not, Postal is the franchise that won't die—no matter how many molotov cocktails you throw at it.


If you thought Postal the game was provocative, let Brock Wilbur and Boss Fight Books introduce you to the man who claims it as his brainchild. Half development story, half personal account of Wilbur's interviews that ranged from eye-popping to uncomfortable, Postal is one of the best page-turners in Boss Fight's library of page-turners. – David L. Craddock



  • "Nathan Rabin and Brock Wilbur show that behind even the most forgettable trash culture footnote lies a fascinating, horrifying, weirdly poignant story."

    – Elliott Kalan
  • "There is no keener observer of pop culture than Nathan Rabin. His wit, unassuming charm and amazing talent for empathy make him one of the most pleasurable authors to read in a field that far too often devolves into navel-gazing self reference. I will never die, but if I do, I hope Nathan Rabin writes the book about me."

    – Justin McElroy
  • "I picked up Postal intending to merely take a peek, and ended up devouring it a night. Wryly funny and trenchantly insightful, it's the best kind of pop culture book: one that uses a tiny, trivial, barely-much-of-anything as its starting point, then slowly, slyly widens into a pointed commentary on our entire culture, and even our world."

    – Jason Bailey, Crooked Marquee
  • "Wilbur and Rabin dive into one of the defining violent games of our generation, and surface with a book full of heart and soul."

    – Franics Horton, What A Hell Of A Way To Die podcast



It is generally not a positive reflection of your mental health or self-esteem when you find yourself relating, on a deep emotional level, to a man who has been widely, even universally derided as the worst person in the world at their job.

Yet by the time I spent several hours conversing with writer-director Uwe Boll via Skype from his home in Toronto, where he was cleaning up from an Easter egg hunt, pausing occasionally to clean out a waffle iron, exercise, or yell in German to some unseen soul, I started seeing a lot of myself in a filmmaker who has been mocked, insulted, and ridiculed, but never understood.

I identified with his world-weariness, with his disillusionment, with his sense of exhaustion, despair, and defeat. As a 43-year-old who increasingly finds it hard to make a living writing about pop culture 22 years into my career, I could relate all too powerfully to Boll's sense that there's not a place for him in the movie world anymore, if there ever was one in the first place.

Boll has never felt more confident in his abilities as a filmmaker or more despairing about his ability to continue to make movies in this environment. This is true even of the low-budget, self-financed, scruffy independent films like the bleak, mass shooting- themed Rampage trilogy, a series he's enormously and justifiably proud of, but that the world has ignored in a way it did not the early video game adaptations that made his name.

When the world was paying, if anything, way too much attention to him and his filmography, Boll made a series of notorious video game adaptations like House of the Dead (2003), Alone in the Dark (2005), Bloodrayne (2005), and In the Name of the King (2007), capitalizing on loopholes in German tax laws and starring screen giants and paycheck-seekers like Burt Reynolds, Ben Kingsley, and Jason Statham, that were derided as strong contenders for the unenviable title of Worst Movie Ever Made.

A few years ago Boll retired from filmmaking, just as I decided to retire from film criticism shortly after discovering that nobody was willing to pay me money to review motion pictures anymore after decades near the top of my field, first as the first head writer for the pop-culture juggernaut The A.V. Club and then as a staff writer for Pitchfork's short-lived, dearly loved film site The Dissolve.

Like Boll, I reinvented myself as an independent after the big sites and publishers were done with me partially in an attempt to secure some of that all-important independence and autonomy but also out of necessity. What do you do when the people who believed in you before don't believe in you anymore? You pave your own lane, or you get out of the business. At various points, Boll chose both strategies. As did I.

Yet filmmakers, like rappers and boxers, have a reputation for announcing retirements they have no intention of ever actually following through on. But listening to Boll, it felt like he was a world-weary survivor looking through the wreckage and debris of a film career he already sees in the past tense, as something that he did before, and not what he sees himself doing in the future.

Boll spent decades punching wildly in all direc- tions—sometimes literally, in the case of his notorious 2006 boxing matches against haters—at film critics, fanboys, movie stars, and the Hollywood establishment, often doing sizable damage to his own career in the pro- cess. But now he just seemed tired of the whole business of film.

I feel the same way about film criticism. I chafe when someone describes me as a film critic because to me there's a concrete definition for film critic: someone who is paid money to review new movies. That was my life for eighteen years but it has not been for the past four. Oh sure, I write about film. I'm writing about film at this very moment! But I'm writing about film outside the context of film criticism, and that is at once exciting and a little terrifying.

The ferociously political, outspoken Boll has strong ideas about fair and unfair, right and wrong. And because he genuinely wants the world to be fair, it never stops hurting him that it's not fair, has never been fair, and will never be fair. I myself try to live with that brutal truth, some days more successfully than others.

That, on some level, is what Postal the video game and Boll's 2007 motion picture are about: life's unfair- ness. It's about shooting sprees as both a response to and a symptom of life's brutal, tragicomic unfairness on a micro and a macro scale.

In Postal the movie, the protagonist, known only as Postal Dude, suffers a gauntlet of life's small-scale indignities. The dude in front of him at the coffee shop takes forever to get to his order. Government bureau- crats prove a dispiritingly predictable combination of belligerent and lazy. In Boll's world, procuring a firearm and venting your frustrations via machine gun spray and mass murder has always seemed like a semi-reasonable response to the world's horrific unfairness.

Boll may have grown up with an overdeveloped sense of that unfairness. As you might imagine, he was not a terribly happy child. Blissful childhoods do not produce people like Uwe Boll—or me, for that matter. No, we are the products of damage and dysfunction, of anger and alienation. And of television.

Forget Godard's children of Marx and Coca-Cola. Boll's movies are aimed unmistakably at vacant-eyed kids who stare at screens: the TV screen, the video game screen, and finally the laptop screen where his movies are disseminated (heaven knows there aren't a lot of folks out buying physical copies of Boll movies like Blubberella these days) and disparaged. Like me, he seems to live much of his life these days online, where he issues angry screeds and promotes his restaurant's appetizer specials via social media.

In F*** You All: The Uwe Boll Story, a mostly admiring 2018 documentary on Boll's life, films, and legend, Boll speaks glowingly of his kind mother and witheringly of his angry father, a championship handball player in his youth and a bitter man who did not hit his son but yelled at him every day. Boll's father did not read, and had no intellectual or artistic curiosity. He was at times cold and distant, and at others profane and corrosive.

In a 2017 Vanity Fair profile sympathetic to Boll yet still hostile towards his films, Boll elaborated on his distant relationship with his father: "My father was always yelling around. He taught me that I'm just a waste of time, told me I was a fucking loser, always cursed, and so on. I was brought up like this. It's normal for me in a way to talk like this. And it's tough for me to put that back. Or calm down, you know."

Boll's movies are consequently overflowing with anger, righteous and otherwise, toward corrupt authority. Boll is often described as a kind leader by his casts and crews, many of whom have worked with him over and over and over again. Actors in particular enjoyed how much room he gave them to try things and improvise.

But as a public figure and larger-than-life provocateur, Boll can be blunt and crass in self-sabotaging ways that have played havoc with his career and reputation. The provocation, the trolling, and the anger are largely ways of overcompensating for being a sensitive soul who was profoundly hurt by the world rejecting his movies.

As a child, Boll found escape at the cinema, where he fell in love with movies like Godzilla and It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. As a schoolboy, he would happily act out the movies he'd seen for the benefit of classmates who couldn't go to the movies. He had one goal in life: to make movies. This passion would take him around the world and catapult him to a strange, unwanted form of infamy.

Boll's simmering adolescent rage had an unmistakable political component. Life was unfair because systems were bullshit and people could not be trusted. They were liars, hypocrites, and phonies. And when you are an angry teenager, everything looks like a system and consequently everything looks like bullshit.

Capitalism was a bullshit system, but Boll was equally cynical about other forms of government, reasoning, "All politics end the same: A few people have everything, and everyone else is fucked."

School was bullshit. Religion was bullshit, a lie people told themselves to feel better about the world's ugliness, unfairness, and brutality. Film school was bullshit, all theory, with no practical application. Of course Boll's fierce conviction that film school was bullshit, and the system for financing movies was bullshit, and that capitalism itself was bullshit, did not keep him from going to film school. Or from becoming a champion- level capitalist. Or from taking advantage of German tax loopholes more aggressively and famously than any other living filmmaker.

This rage powered Boll's first crack at making a real movie, 1992's German Fried Movie, an ultra low- budget, pitch-black exercise in guerrilla filmmaking whose transgressive naughtiness marks it as a spiritual sibling to Postal.

There exists within Boll a duality: He hates the capitalist game he wants so badly to win. When I worked in pop culture media, I used to recoil internally at all of the bullshit and compromise that came with my job.

But I didn't hate pop culture media as a whole despite working within that rigged, dirty system; I hated pop culture media because I worked within it. Interviewing and researching Boll, I saw the same tendency. He hated the system from the inside and the outside. All this misery was the price of getting to live out your childhood dreams.

Uwe Boll is at once a larger than life caricature, a towering Teutonic villain who delights in offending, and a sensitive human being deeply hurt by the contempt his work has received.

So while Boll has long raged against the world's unfairness and the innate failings of pretty much all systems, in the early part of his career Boll benefited tremendously from the world's unfairness.

Boll essentially discovered a magical money spigot that other hungry filmmakers either didn't know existed or didn't know how to use that allowed him to become a filmmaker on an international level while he was still learning his craft.

"The bizarre tax laws in Germany mean that any wealthy Germans who invest in a movie can write-off the production cost, delay paying their taxes, and generally reduce their tax burden," explains Stuart Wood in CinemaBlend. "The German investors in a movie only pay tax on any RETURNS the movie makes, their investment is 100% deductible, so the minute the movie makes a profit, said investor has to start paying tax. Plus the investors can actually borrow money to put towards investment and write that off too. Assuming you're a sharp enough businessman you have a potential goldmine."

So if the movie was profitable, you made money. And if it wasn't, it was all a write-off. It was like a magic trick. Using these financial maneuvers, Boll could make money for projects instantaneously appear, and then he was off traveling the globe to make the movies upon which his reputation is based.

Unfortunately for Boll—and it really is unfortunate—that reputation is for being the worst living film- maker. That's no mean feat in a world where Tommy Wiseau and Neil Breen are both still alive.

To cite a typically vicious, personal pan, Alone in the Dark moved The Austin Chronicle's Marc Savlov to write:

There's a certain majesty to German director Boll's unmistakable style of filmmaking: a free- dom from art, talent, skill of any formal kind, and the sheer pigheadedness to keep going at any cost and damn the straight-to-video market. That sort of single-minded, carefree attitude borders on the mystical if not the sociopathic. It's as if Boll, chasing his unicorn dream over the rainbow of anti-auteurism, has mastered some deeply satisfying zen koan imparted to him by a wise man named Ed Wood.

Very early in his career, a mythology built up around Boll as a filmmaker of unique and appalling incompetence whose terribleness not only deserved but demanded to be mocked. Despite a seeming consensus among critics and fans that no one in the history of the universe was ever as bad at anything as Boll was at creating video games movies, Boll kept getting to make them. And with each new movie came a new round of glee and fury.

BBC writer Jamie Russell's review of House of the Dead ends,

[House of the Dead is] so bad it could well go down in history as one of the worst zombie mov- ies ever made. Which, in a genre that's given us oven-ready turkeys like Plan 9 From Outer Space and Nudist Colony Of The Dead, is really saying something. The only terrifying thing about it is the knowledge that Boll has already signed on to make three more videogame adaptations: Alone In The Dark, BloodRayne, and Far Cry. Somebody stop him. Please.

These reviews posited Boll as bigger than his movies in the worst possible way. A narrative seemingly sprung up overnight in which Boll was not just a bad filmmaker but the worst filmmaker, as a malevolent force who needed to be degraded into premature retirement.

Readers were amused and delighted with the vitriolic, over-the-top nature of these pithy eviscerations. Boll, most assuredly, was not. He did not appreciate that when he was profiled in the New York Times in May 2008, the headline was "Call Him the Worst Director (Then Duck)," or that the article began "Uwe Boll is often referred to as the worst filmmaker in the world."

There's only one word to describe Uwe Boll's feelings about receiving the apparently permanent title of World's Worst Filmmaker: unfair. Deeply, deeply unfair.

And while a lot of the internet was simply having fun at his expense, an amorphous but vocal group raged more earnestly that it was Boll's many opportunities that were unfair. Why did this guy get to make movies with Jason Statham and Ben Kingsley? Why not someone good who actually cared about the properties Boll was butchering? Boll in turn raged harder against video games, people who play video games, video game companies, and video game culture.

Boll was so apoplectic at the online roastings he received from respectable critics and amateur bloggers alike that he challenged his snarkiest and most vicious online detractors to boxing matches to prove, once and for all, his ultimate aesthetic value as a filmmaker. Or at least that Boll, who happened to be a skilled and experienced boxer, would be able to beat up some geeks. In September 2006, Boll won all five fights. Pummeling film writers with his fists astonishingly did nothing to improve Boll's standing with critics.

Now disillusioned with video games and video game movies, Boll told me that he considers Postal a huge step away from video game movies and towards the despairing, personal, and political cinema of the decade that followed.

Video games were like everything in the world: mostly garbage, but useful as a means to an end. By his own account, Boll has spent no more than 40 or 50 hours of his life playing video games. They just don't engage him.

Yet Boll had a revelation early in his career that would have a tremendous impact on his life's work: Low- budget genre movies based on established properties did a whole lot better commercially than low-budget genre movies not based on established properties. That might seem obvious, but for Boll it was nothing short of a career-maker.