Starring: Alice Lucy, David Schofield and Casper Van Dien
Directed by: Johannes Hartmann and Sandro Klopfstein
Running Time: 92 minutes
Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars
One of my favorite movie going experiences was 2007’s “Grindhouse,” by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. Not so much the Tarantino portion, but the Rodriguez portion. After convincing several friends to drop money on a three-plus hour film, we were immediately rewarded as blood, guts, mayhem and tongue-in-cheek comedy took center stage. Even though there were only a handful of us in a mostly empty theater, there were times we could barely hear the movie over our own laughter at every exploding zombie head and intentionally bad scene. I sometimes wonder why more modern exploitation films aren’t made. Regardless, I’m glad someone did this year.
Heidi (Alice Lucy), of “Mad Heidi,” lives in the Swiss Alps with her grandfather, occasionally spending time (i.e. sex) with her lover, Goat Peter (Kel Matsena). Goat Peter, though, is quickly executed in the film by the fascist Swiss government in this alternate reality. Goat Peter’s crime? Selling illegal dairy products. In this cartoonish dystopia, Swiss Dictator Meili (Casper Van Dien) has outlawed lactose intolerance, conquered every inch of the dairy market, and is creating a cheese that forces the populace to be subservient Swiss patriots. After Goat Peter’s execution, Heidi is imprisoned, sending her on a trashy path towards vengeance.
“Mad Heidi” is what happens when you take an 1881’s children’s book, and smash softcore porn nudity, over-the-top violence, and out-of-date trashy storytelling in between the book’s pages. To say “Mad Heidi” is not for everyone, is like saying Jaegermeister is an “acquired” taste. Even the people watching, cheering and laughing during “Mad Heidi,” recognize it’s intentionally offensive humor, second rate CGI blood spurts and gore, and 80s action one-liners for what it is. Ridiculously amusing and oddly charming. The charm switch gets flipped on because of Lucy’s double sided performance of Heidi, a sweet relatable country girl who has to become a warrior badass. It helps that her nemesis is played by Van Dien, who may as well have eaten a spoonful of fondue before every cheesy line delivery.
The winks at other genre films is endless; all the way back to the sleaze of films like “Caged Women” to modern schlocky action-comedy like “Kung Fury.” With Van Dien on cast, the movie wastes no time in referencing “Starship Troopers,” and the references never get old as the film goes on. If I was to knock “Mad Heidi” for anything, it’d be that it’s a smidge too long and it doesn’t quite live up to the wall-to-wall insanity in other modern exploitation films like “Hobo with a Shotgun” or “Black Dynamite.” That being said, modern exploitation feels like an incredibly hard genre to pull off because exploitation is now the internet, and it’s hard to match the ferociousness of real violence broadcast into our eyeballs every day. “Mad Heidi” also has to tow this line of intentionally offensive stereotypes that are funny without upsetting modern sensibilities.
The great thing about modern exploitation and “Mad Heidi,” is that uptight people looking for the next thing to be outraged and shocked over won’t be watching the trailer for this film or looking at the poster and thinking, “I gotta check this out.” In a surprising way, it’s refreshing to watch something so politically incorrect, that you either have to hold your nose or roll with the offensive punches. I chose the latter. I relished every brutal bloody battle, every gruesome kill, every uncomfortable moment and all the little moments of absurd world building. For fans of any of the films I’ve mentioned above, or fans of B-movies with hyperviolence and immoral sexuality, “Mad Heidi” is a must. Also, someone find Tarantino and Rodriguez, and let them know another pupil of trash cinema has arrived.