by Hope Madden
Hard core, low budget genre films tend to seem cheesy: women in prison, boobs, torture, splatter, training montages, katanas. Filmmakers Johannes Hartmann and Sandro Klopfstein embrace the budget constraints, embrace the genre, and absolutely celebrate the cheese with their opus, Mad Heidi.
Their genre sendup returns to Heidi, that cheery Swiss Alps legend, along with her grandfather and Peter the goat herder. But not all is well in Switzerland. The country’s Very Swiss Leader (played with relish by Casper Van Dien) is something out of a bad 1970s exploitation film. Swissploitation, if you will.
So, Heidi (Alice Lucy) must suffer, find her strength, and reclaim her country for the Swiss and the lactose intolerant.
One of the benefits of making a spoof is that no one can hold your ludicrous plot against you. Indeed, the more ludicrous, the spoofier. The plot – what there is of one – exists to move Heidi and her story from one recognizable genre beat to the next. The filmmakers clearly possess a sincere fondness for grindhouse action. Their film never feels mean-spirited, and more importantly, it never feels lazy. Instead, Mad Heidi delivers sometimes inspired set pieces, gags and jokes that land harder if you’re in on them.
It’s also sometimes shockingly beautifully shot.
While the filmmakers are obviously having fun with genre sensibilities, they also showcase genuine cinematic craftsmanship with a clearly low budget. The movie looks great. Gore effects strike the ideal over-the-top practical vibe. Hartman and Klopfstein make their chosen genre’s ludicrous nature, plot holes and unnatural pauses, cartoonish characters, and bloodlust work for them.
Van Dien – so good earlier this year in Daughter and mainly known for maybe the world’s greatest action spoof, Starship Troopers – delivers fun, exaggerated comic timing. In fact, the whole cast bad-acts quite well. Still, even at just 92 minutes, the film feels more than a little bloated around the midsection.
It can’t hurt to watch it, though, assuming you’re in the mood for an awful lot of goopy, sloppy, sticky – dare I say cheesy – action and you’re able to fully unplug your brain.