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Mad Heidi (2022) SFFF Review

After several years of raising funds and filming, Mad Heidi arrives just in time to join films like Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey, The Banana Splits Movie and the Grinch themed The Mean One in making bloody exploitation films based on our childhood memories. In this version, Heidi (Alice Lucy, Junction 9, Thanatos) starts out living a carefree life in the Alps with her grandfather Alpöhi (David Schofield, Lord of Tears, An American Werewolf in London), but that’s where the similarities end.

Rather than tending to the goats, she spends her days rolling in the hay with Goat Peter (Kel Matsena, Doctors) whom her grandfather strongly disapproves of. Peter is a dealer in bootleg goat cheese, defying the state-enforced monopoly of Meili Cheese, owned by the Very Swiss Leader President Meili (Casper Van Dien, Assailant, Darkness Reigns).

In one terrible day, this leads to our heroine witnessing the summary execution of her lover and Alpöhi’s death in a firefight with Kommandant Knorr (Max Rüdlinger, Tandoori Love, Breakout) and his men. Thrown into prison, she swears revenge at any cost.

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Billed as the first Swisspoitation movie, Mad Heidi marks the feature debut of Johannes Hartmann and Sandro Klopfstein, who co-wrote the script with Gregory D. Widmer (Züri Zoo) and Trent Haaga (It Came from the Desert, Deadgirl). The result is a film packed with everything except good taste, as Heidi takes on the forces of a dystopian Switzerland kept placid with propaganda and cheese.

Once she escapes, Mad Heidi equally ruthlessly parodies action films with surprising revelations, betrayals, warrior nuns and a seemingly never-ending training montage. All of this leading up to a Thunderdome like battle against The Neutral-izer and a last ditch fight to stop Meili from taking over the world with his new Ultra Swiss cheese. This is where the gore is really laid on thick as heads roll, bodies split in half and several villains suffer fatal wounds to the groin.

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Since this is a Swissploitation film, the filmmakers take every opportunity possible to work things like Alpine horns, cuckoo clocks, Swiss Army knives, halberds, and in a scene that brought back some painful memories, absinthe into the plot. Some of it feels a bit forced, but many make sense within the plot and others are moments of inspired lunacy.

Like many of these films, Mad Heidi does have a tendency to just throw gags at the audience and hope they work. Several do fall pretty flat, especially in the first act while the film is finding its footing. Others may be too esoteric for all but the most hardcore of trash film fans to get. But such a large percentage of them hit the target you would be excused for thinking William Tell wrote the script.

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My only complaint about Mad Heidi is that it isn’t quite as outrageously bloody as its trailer suggests. That’s probably a good thing, as attempting that much carnage would probably have drained the film’s budget and crowded out a lot of the film’s other elements. As it stands, the film is a satisfyingly cheesy mix of skewered clichés, skewered bodies, bare breasts, and some surprisingly well-choreographed fight scenes.

Or, to put it another way, too many genre parodies such as Exorcism at 60,000 Feet ends up being less funny than the films they’re supposed to be making fun of. Mad Heidi, like the makers of fine cheese, gets the formula right.

A late addition to the lineup, Mad Heidi was booked for this year’s Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival based on the trailer, and the risk paid off with one of the best films in the lineup. It’s been released in several European countries, and you can check its website and Facebook page for news on its release in North America and elsewhere. And if you’re mad about Heidi, FilmTagger can suggest some similar films.

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