By definition, modern exploitation/grindhouse films are parodies. A mimic of a style and genre that doesn’t naturally exist today, a style that was a by-product of the 70s. For every successful parody there are a dozen stinkers. It’s a hard genre because it relies on absurdness but absurdness is a fine line between not-absurd enough and just cringy shit nobody wants to watch. Of course, it isn’t always for comedic effect. It could be argued that films like Mad Heidi are parodies of the Quintin Tarantino and Robert Rodrigues version of “exploitation films,” not the actual 70s exploitation films and it could be also argued that those films are parodies of the trailers for the 70s exploitation films, not the actual films (most of them are quite boring).
Also, because, you know, how many teenagers watching these films have actually seen a Nazisploitation film? But I digress. It’s hard to make these films without them ending up being Dadaistic garbage.
Mad Heidi is not Dadaistic garbage. It’s actually quite good. It walks the line of the absurd but manages to keep the mood itself serious. That’s thanks to the actors. They don’t fall in the trap of being tongue-in-cheek “I know this is silly and am in on the joke, lol” like so many have done before them. They play it straight. I don’t know most of them, I guess they are Swiss, however, they are all great.
Especially my main man Casper Van Dien who plays the cheese pandering dictator of fascist Switzerland. Van Dien is most famous (I hope) for being in one of the greatest satire films of all time, Starship Troopers. He hasn’t forgotten the things Paul Verhoeven taught him.
Oh yeah, so the film is about an alternative history Switzerland that was taken over by a fascist regime that is obsessed with cheese. In this reality, the jews are the lactose intolerant. Does that make it a satire, too? No. Also, obviously, it is a parody of the Heidi stories that I mostly know from a cartoon that aired in Iceland when I was a kid. I guess it’s in public domain now. Heidi is played by Alice Lucy who can hold the title role with ease, stunning and confident, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see her in mainstream Hollywood flicks before too long.
The film’s production, which was crowdfunded, is fantastic. Direction, sound, editing, all top of the line. The greatest praise goes to the cinematography and visual team because the film is beautiful. The colors are vivid and saturated, without being too much, and there are nods and references to the original exploitation style, without it being overbearing and the special effects are better than you find in modern Superhero films (Jesus Christ, did y’all see the cgi babies in that Flash movie?)
All in all, it’s a fun romp. You’ve got great acting, great visuals and absurd scenes like execution by Toblerone, so it’s easy to recommend.