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  • Rev Horror

Mad Heidi

Dir. Johannes Hartmann & Sandro Klopfstein (2022)

Switzerland has come under the governance of an evil, fascist dictatorship powered by cheese (so basically Florida.) It's up to Heidi, in all her ass-kicking glory, to stop them.


Holy cow. This movie is fucking insane. An odd parody of the original Heidi, best known today as the movie that interrupted the largest comeback in NFL playoff history, and featuring riffs on cult classics like George Romero's zombie films and Paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers (and featuring Casper Van Dien no less), Mad Heidi is the batshit craziest movie I've seen since The Velocipastor. It's also entirely independent, created by a conglomeration of people who wanted to make a movie (and for some reason chose this one) and gave everything they had to create one of the weirdest ones imaginable.

Now I have to admit, I've never seen the original Heidi, so I have no idea how closely this one resembles the original. Despite my ignorance to the source material, I'd have to guess... not a lot. Yeah, they both take place in Switzerland, they both feature a girl named Heidi, but I highly doubt the Shirley Temple original featured too many exploding heads. There's also at least 30% more people killed by cheese in this one, so it's got that going for it as well.

The film wears its inspiration proudly, and it pays homage to its forefathers through blatant imitation. The beginning of the film plays like the legendary opening Hans Landa scene from Inglorious Basterds, but shortly thereafter we get a bizarre Nazi-ish women-in-prison sequence that feels like a cross between Ilsa and Young Frankenstein. There are zombies, fascist stormtroopers, and enough arterial spray to fill a swimming pool, resulting in a raucous ride through the Alps that would make Disney's Matterhorn jealous.

Star Alice Lucy, who plays Heidi herself, is a gorgeous, badass warrior princess, and she is phenomenal in her Swissploitation feature debut. To be honest, I didn't even know there was such a thing as "Swiss stereotypes," and that makes a certain amount of sense because this is the debut of the Swissploitation genre as well. That fact likely won't be the film's lasting impact, however. Instead, the ingenious way in which the film was funded very well may be the future of independent cinema. Kickstarter and Indiegogo may well be the way of the past if these Swiss "filmtrepreneurs" have anything to say about it.

The producers of the film raised $300,000 from crowdfunding on the strength of their teaser trailer but fell far short of the $3.5 million budget they wanted for the film. They turned to London-based FilmChain, which specializes in funding films by selling shares in the film itself rather than the swag-based rewards system of those other crowdfunding favorites. This allows the people who fund the film to actually get monetary compensation when the film does well, sort of a socialized production team for films. If the film takes off, and I promise you that it absolutely will with a certain crowd, it will fund sequels for this film and serve as a beacon of potential hope for people with good, sellable ideas for movies everywhere.

All that being said, this one won't work for everyone. I highly doubt the vast majority of audiences will appreciate this for what it is, which is tongue-in-cheek brilliance. I can just imagine the eyeroll from people like The Morrigan, who will think this is perhaps the dumbest movie they've ever seen, and I think there will be a lot of people that feel that way. For fans of absurdist humor and appreciators of all of trashy, exploitative history of grindhouse cinema, though, this one will be a huge hit. Had Quentin Tarantino not wanted to make serious Hollywood hits and had perhaps been hit on the head a few times, this is the type of movie he'd make.

Who this movie is for: Absurdist movie lovers, Action/horror/comedy mashup fans, Cheesemongers

Bottom line: It's hilarious, ultraviolent, and feels like a weird, Euro-centric fever dream. I absolutely loved it. If you're an exploitation film fan who desperately would like to see Caspar Van Dien play a cheese-obsessed Hitler or a mountain woman learn to fight from ninja ghost nuns, this film is for you. Raven Banner, which is distributing this film, has made their name on the weird, off-beat action/horror scene, releasing films like Psycho Goreman, Turbo Kid, and Deathgasm, so Mad Heidi fits perfectly into their repertoire. This is a must see for people who like the weird shit.

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