The Reel Review
A Swiss mountain girl turns into an ass-kicking vigilante after a tyrannical cheesemaker, the leader of a dystopian Switzerland, kills her goat cheese-trading boyfriend and grandfather. This farcical horror/comedy stars relative newcomer Alice Lucy and seasoned acting veteran Casper van Dien (Starship Troopers).
The idea of taking Johanna Spyri’s beloved 1880 classic novel “Heidi” – about a sweet young girl living with her grandpa in the Swiss mountains – and turning it into a Troma-styled horror/comedy sounds like an unconventional, weirdly fun idea. But showcasing uniquely Swiss products like cheese fondue, Toblerone chocolates and cuckoo clocks as weapons in gore-splattered, gross out horror doesn’t work so well when the script stinks. And this one smells like weeks-old Gorgonzola. If only writer/directors Johannes Hartmann and Sandro Klopfstein had spent as much time on a solid screenplay as they did on their crowdsourcing efforts…
Despite the limp story’s dullness, Lucy acts her heart out as the bland protagonist, with van Dien strangely looking like HE is having a blast, although it’s unlikely anyone else is – especially us viewers. His over-the-top, Swiss flag-obsessed fascist, forcing subjects to eat his inferior cheese and killing those who are lactose intolerant, gets old real fast. (At 54, he does still look good in a Swiss flag speedo, however.) The decent set design and practical effects are not enough to overcome the lack of humor, bad acting and sluggish pacing. There is a big difference between stupid and stupidly funny and sadly, Mad Heidi is the former.
• This first-ever, self-proclaimed “Swissploitation” film project began in 2017. After successfully raising $2.3 million via 538 donors in 19 countries, filming took place over 27 days in late 2021 at a studio in Bern and a Roman amphitheater in Martigny near the French border.
• 54-year-old Casper van Dien lives with third wife Jennifer Wenger in Tampa, Florida. He has four children, two from his first marriage to Carrie Mitchum (daughter of actor Robert Mitchum) and two from his 16-year marriage to Catherine Oxenberg (Dynasty), whom he divorced in 2015.
• In Mad Heidi, Heidi’s last name that is shown in her criminal file is Mayenfeld, presumably a nod to the Maienfeld that Heidi visits in Johanna Spyri’s beloved 1880 novel. Fraulein Rottweiler is a parody of Fraulein Rottenmeier from the novel too.