‘Mad Heidi’: fondue torture, swiss trash and other horror depictions

The film project “Mad Heidi” is coming to cinemas. Between humor, horror and a reinterpretation of the Heimatfilm “Heidi” there is everything – especially a lot of cheese.

“Crazy Heidi” opens with a disclaimer: Before watching the movie, you should take a moment to understand how it was made. “Mad Heidi” is not a studio project, but was created through crowdfunding by movie fans around the world. The realization of the two Bernese directors Johannes Hartmann and Sandro Klopfenstein and the Basel producer Valentin Greutert took a total of five years.

The creators of the film write on their website: “538 people from 19 countries are involved in the sale of the film.” Two million francs were raised in this way. The producers go on to say that they wanted to produce independently of Netflix or Amazon — not only because they don’t want to sell their intellectual property, but also because they want people without a streaming subscription to be able to watch the film.

The result is a kind of comedy in which Swissness is not neglected. And there’s also plenty of fake blood and other horror imagery.

That’s what “Mad Heidi” is about.

The new interpretation has almost nothing to do with “Heidi” by Johanna Spyri, a Swiss children’s book and Heimatfilm. “Mad Heidi” is set in a dystopian Switzerland that has fallen under the fascist rule of the evil cheese baron and Swiss president Meili (Caspar Diem) and his cheese tyrants – the so-called “New Order of Switzerland”. While the insane President Meili is involved in various dubious cheese machinations and terrorizes the entire country, Commander Knorr (Max Rüdlinger) does not shy away from atrocities to keep Switzerland in this cheese fascism.

It doesn’t take long for Heidi (Alice Lucy) from the idyllic Alps to take on Commander Knorr. Because he executed the goatherd Peter (Kel Matsena) himself in cold blood in the village for the production of illegal dairy products – and later blew up the mountain hut of dear Alpöhi and Heidi’s grandfather (David Schofield).

No wonder Heidi is ugly.

Swiss humor and cliches everywhere

If “Crazy Heidi” doesn’t lack anything, it’s the absurd ideas that otherwise come up only when drunk. English is spoken throughout the film. However, not this movie English we are used to, but rather “Schwenenglisch”: the Swiss dialect is unmistakable. “Thank you, honey, it smells wonderful,” is said over dinner in a mountain hut, reminding us of how Swiss tourists try to communicate with the local population abroad.

Swiss president and cheese baron Meili (Caspar Diem) provides plenty of Swissness.

Of course, the Swiss cheese cliché is not left out either. The dairy product is omnipresent and actually the hook of the entire film. At the beginning there is a dramatic and bloody march against the cheese manufacturer “Meili” – the company belongs to the Swiss president. He decreed that people with lactose intolerance no longer have a place in cheese fascism. To eliminate people with digestive problems, he had them put a piece of cheese in their mouths. Anyone who can’t keep it up will be executed anyway or die of cheese poisoning. That’s what cheese nazis do.

In addition to Heidi, Geissenpeter and Alphöhi, other protagonists of the “Heidi” children’s books from the 1880s are represented in the film. Klara, Miss Rottenmeier—they’re all there. For example, Geissenpeter is played by a person of color. This makes the film casual and casually diverse. It’s unclear if the filmmakers wanted to make a political statement, but it fits the delightfully casual nature of the rest of the film.

Geissenpeter is played by a person of color – and it fits.
Geissenpeter is played by a person of color – and it fits.

In addition, the film repeatedly shows the beautiful Swiss landscape in fast forward motion. From the Matterhorn it’s a quick trip to Davos and just around the corner back to the center of Bern.

There is horror

That’s why “Mad Heidi” is definitely not a family movie: There are good reasons why it’s only released for ages 16 and up. One of them is that “Mad Heidi” belongs to the genre of trash and splatter movies. Trash film provocatively violates taste, morality and bourgeois-conservative prejudices and is often excessively brutal. The latter also applies to sprayed films. There’s still action and comedy with “Mad Heidi.”

No action
There is also the “Mad Heidi” event.

Still, I have to look away a few times because there are too many organs flying around and blood spurting: In “Mad Heidi,” people are cut in half with halberds, beaten to death with Toblerone chocolate as a baton, and Swiss soldiers armbanded to a World War II memorial , firing wildly with assault rifles. Sometimes the faces are cut. The shot goes wide. Heidi sometimes gets fat in a re-education camp resembling a concentration camp.

In addition. Fondue torture is ubiquitous. Instead of waterboarding, hot fondue is poured over the victim: fondueboarding. Victims are burning and suffocating in liquid cheese at the same time. That’s how “trash” works in “trash movie”.

Commander Knorr wants to see how everything burned.
Commander Knorr wants to see how everything burned.

This was apparently too much for the police: a senior police officer was fired without notice for working on the film – producing such a horror film with Nazi parodies would not be compatible with the police function. However, the termination was deemed inadmissible in retrospect.

Conclusion: Lots of jokes, but not for everyone

Heidi as an avenger with a halberd and Alpöhi as a guerilla fighter against the cheesy fascist regime are definitely worth seeing. But one thing: “Mad Heidi” is fun, but the movie is definitely not for the faint of heart. A trash film as it is in the book, with humor that deliberately pushes the boundaries of habit and taste; Nazi polemics hello. In addition, there is a lot of blood – as usual with a splatter film.

The swiss bands on the sleeves are reminiscent of combat bands from the First World War.
The swiss bands on the sleeves are reminiscent of combat bands from the First World War.

The surprisingly high production value is striking. Trash movies often tend to look as bad as their budget. See “The Ring Thing”. The pictures in “Mad Heidi” are not bad at all. Especially the ones from the Alps are beautiful. In general, I have almost nothing to complain about: the actors and actresses are convincing and the story as a whole is more solid than I expected. You can actually see from the film that it was made with a lot of love from everyone involved – just not for everyone.

You can see “Mad Heidi” in cinemas from November 24, 2022. And if you don’t feel like going to the cinema, you can stream the strip directly on madheidi.com from December 8 – without a subscription.

All images: © Swissploitation Films / madheidi.com

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