Look, I’m a simple dude. If Casper Van Dien is in a movie, chances are good that I’ll watch it. Because no matter how off the wall the movie is, Van Dien always brings his A-game and MAD HEIDI is no different.
MAD HEIDI is a so-called “Swissploitation” comedy-horror-revenge flick starring Alice Lucy in the titular role, Max Rüdlinger, Kel Matsena, Milo Moiré, and Casper Van Dien.
The story begins in Switzerland twenty years prior, when the people are protesting…cheese? Fascism? Fascist cheese? Yes, let’s go with that. We see people slaughtered in the streets as they protest the rise of fascist cheese, all by the hands of the dreaded Kommandant Knorr (Max Rüdlinger).
Twenty years later, we see Heidi, all grown up, with her lover in the Swiss Alps. She lives a life of peace and leisure with her grandfather (David Schofield) and sneaking trysts with her lover, Goat Peter (Kel Matsena).
However, her innocence is lost when she witnesses the murder of Goat Peter and her grandfather at the hands of the Swiss President (Casper Van Dien) and Kommandant Knorr. After being arrested and forced into a horrific prison, she must prove her worth, find her courage, and act on her revenge before it’s too late for the Swiss nation.
Picture all that was described above plot-wise but with a lot of cheese. Both literal and figurative. Cheese is the main plot point. In fact, the cheese turns people into Nazi zombies, basically. Because the “Swiss” in this “Swissploitation” film gets very bland and confused about what Switzerland actually is. There’s talk of cheese, a Saint Bernard dog with a barrel on its neck, the alphorn, and (of course) a Swiss army knife. But the Nazi-Germany motif is extremely heavy-handed, down to Van Dien playing a very David Hasselhoff-esque character. So, it’s hard to differentiate the SWISS in Swissploitation.
There were also some points that the film MAD HEIDI seemed grainy, particularly in the prison scene, and there seemed to be issues with the sound mixing. This was most noticeable in the arena fight. The writing struggles to make a connection with its audience and misses the boat on selecting literary heroine Heidi to explore these Nazi cheese exploits. The story was interesting enough, but the cheese one-liners and the badass one-liners got to be redundant.
While MAD HEIDI has flaws, there were genuinely good parts about it. The acting, for being a B-horror movie about zombie cheese, was good and engaging. Alice Lucy played Heidi as both sweet and menacing. The one-liners got a bit much, but I don’t fault her performance for that. She acted the role with genuine sweetness and thoughtfulness, especially during the prison scenes.
Van Dien, as always, went hard in his role and even though I feel like they really leaned into The Hoff as inspiration, he was an excellent choice and gave the character life. He’s always a joy to watch and engaging in each role he plays. It seemed like he was having a fun time and the energy was contagious.
The music from Mario Batkovic, while not Swiss (think more spaghetti Western), was beautiful and enhanced the scenes, especially the emotional ones. It was never jarring or over-powering but moved well into each scene. And looking at Batkovic’s credits, with him having a hand in the music department of Red Dead Redemption II (one of my favorite soundtracks of all time), it absolutely shows his abilities as an artist. I look forward to his future work.
Also, I want to give a shout-out to Milo Moiré, who is actually Swiss. Her appearance in the film is a bit jarring, as she is serving cheese topless until you learn a little more about her. She’s a conceptual artist and model, who uses her body and sexuality as the subject of her art. I won’t go into her art because you can Google it, but I found her inclusion fascinating in MAD HEIDI.
Now, MAD HEIDI won’t be for everyone. It’s a B-movie to the hilt – a bit of Sky Sharks wrapped up in Grindhouse, with a splash of Dead Snow. As I said, it’s about cheese that turns people into zombies. Reread that sentence and come back. If you’re still here, it might very well be for you. The deaths are gruesome and bloody, the writing is made of hokey one-liners, and the end is over-the-top. If that’s something you can get into, MAD HEIDI will be a treat. If not, then it might just prove to be too cheesy for you to stomach.
Fathom Events, Raven Banner Releasing and Swissploitation Films are excited to present the premiere MAD HEIDI coming to theaters nationwide for a special one-night engagement on Wednesday, June 21 at 7:00 p.m. local time. Tickets are on sale at Fathom Events.