Mad Heidi (2023)

Tickets are now on sale at Fathom Events; coming to theaters nationwide for a special one-night engagement on Wednesday, June 21st at 7pm, local time.

A lot of the media likes to use the words “Indie film” whenever referring to a movie that isn’t entirely mainstream. The word has been homogenized over the years, as films like “Mad Heidi” are lost in the shuffle. “Mad Heidi” is a real indie film that worked hard to get a distribution deal, and it is here for us to gorge on. According to the press release, “Mad Heidi” initially made waves for its innovative crowdfunded approach, bypassing traditional financing tactics to ensure that the film’s original vision was preserved while placing profits back in the hands of the creators and backers. Even if neo-grindhouse isn’t your cup of tea, “Mad Heidi” deserves a lot of love for its willingness to embrace its indie roots, while also being literally as cheesy as it can possibly be.

In a dystopian Switzerland that has fallen under the fascist rule of an evil cheese tyrant, Heidi lives a pure and simple life in the Swiss Alps. Grandfather Alpöhi does his best to protect Heidi, but her desire for freedom soon lands her in trouble with the dictator’s henchmen. When pushed too far the innocent Heidi transforms into a kick-ass warrior who sets out to liberate her country from the heinous cheese fascists.

Johannes Hartmann and Sandro Klopfstein’s “Mad Heidi” is the kind of movie you’d expect to see in theaters back in 1980 with a double bill of a kung fu movie. It’s a weird, wonky, surreal, and silly action revenge epic that marks itself as Swissploitation. You cans sense that that the directors have a clear love for the grindhouse aesthetic, all the while unabashedly trying to deliver something we haven’t seen before. The writers have such a good time building this universe centered on a fascist dictatorship that lives and breathes on cheese. You could even make a drinking game based around the number of times they mention cheese or dole out a cheese pun.

That’s not meant as a criticism, as it’s wholly intentional. The pair of directors has as much fun with their project as possible all the while building on some creative ideas. The journey of Alice Lucy’s character Heidi is an interesting one, as she goes from normal farm girl to axe wielding warrior over the course of the film. This involves a green glowing sentient guardian angel, and a pair of warrior nuns, by the way. Everything feels so random but nothing ever feels haphazardly thrown together. There’s so much to enjoy here from the fight scenes, the insanely over the top gore, right down to the great villains.

I loved the henchmen that worked President Meili, and I was always interested in seeing who or what was going to show up next to take on Heidi. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Casper Van Dien who is just so much fun as the film’s fascist villain President Meili. He chews the scenery at every turn and really feels like he was lifted out of an “Indiana Jones” film. Van Dien knows what kind of movie he’s making, and he keeps his performance at a ten scale at all times. The directors do a damn fine job putting together “Mad Heidi” as despite its small budget, it is very well realized and exciting.

There are so many interesting set pieces, and they make good use of the Grindhouse aged film tint. I don’t know what they would do with a sequel (maybe a ‘charcuterie trilogy’?), should there actually be one, but with “Mad Heidi” my confidence in them is raised. “Mad Heidi” is a surefire blood gushing revenge saga, one you can easily pair with 2023’s equally insane “Sisu.”