The story behind "Mad Heidi" is almost as interesting - if not MORE interesting - than the film itself. The project started more than 3 years ago as the crazy dream of a bunch of Swiss horror/cult film-buffs. The mission: make the first-ever Swiss exploitation movie, preferably as insane and over-the-top as humanly possible. The challenge: they didn't have any money, only a lot of devoted enthusiasm and energy.
What followed is probably one of the most impressive and respectable crowd-funding campaigns in history. Via Internet and various social media channels, the "Mad Heidi" hype slowly but surely increased. Funds were raised via merchandising (you could even buy a cuckoo-clock) and the pre-order DVD sales of a movie that didn't exist yet! The campaign was incredibly successful, and the film was made with more than enough budget for excellent special effects, and even the involvement of a relatively well-known B-actor; - Casper Van Dien.
But then came Covid-19 ... Just like everything else in the world, the release of "Mad Heidi" was put on hold, and the patience of the cast, crew and thousands of co-funders got tested immensely. Now, and finally, the movie had its world-premiere at the Brussels' International Fantastic Film Festival. It was a real party.
Inevitably, the festive ambiance before, during and after the screening of "Mad Heidi" heavily influenced my experience and rating. I'm sorry for that, but it's simply impossible to get euphoric when you are surrounded by hundreds of people yodeling in a theater, wearing fake Swiss Nazi-uniforms, and drinking beer.
Most importantly, though, "Mad Heidi" is exactly what it promised to be ever since the beginning of production; - namely a massively entertaining and absurdly eccentric exploitation movie with copious amounts of splatter, twisted humor, demented characters, self-parody, deliberately dumb quotes and catch-phrases, and non-stop vitality. The tone, style and content of the film isn't new or innovative. The plot is comparable to crowd-pleasing flicks like "Inglourious Bastards" or "Iron Sky", and the script pays tribute to approximately three dozen of cinematic treasures varying from "The Sound of Music" to "Lady Snowblood".
The story is of lesser importance, but it neatly follows the structure of a textbook revenge-thriller. If I tell you Casper Van Dien stars as the tyrannical and megalomaniacal President of Switzerland, and simultaneously CEO of the only authorized company to produce and export cheese, you already know enough. He wants to obtain world-domination via genetically altered cheese, but a heroic girl from the Alps is determined to get revenge for the murder of her boyfriend and the downfall of her beloved Motherland.
Of all the great fun and splendid gimmicks, what I most appreciated is how the makers wonderfully inserted every possible Swiss cliche and national symbol into their film. There's the Matterhorn and cheese bowls in the film-logo already, but everything else you could possibly associate with Switzerland features as well: idyllic mountain paths, Alp horns, cuckoo clocks, cheese fondue, watches, pocket knives, Toblerone chocolate, ... There's so much lunacy and mayhem happening that Heidi's character and her quest for revenge is even pushed to the background sometimes, which is a minor default.