Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Sinful Dwarf (1973) review



Torben Bille (Olaf), Anne Sparrow (Mary), Clara Keller (Lila Lash), Tony Eades (Peter), Werner Hedman ('Santa Claus')

Directed by Vidal Raski

The Short Version: Nauseatingly grubby little movie about a cackling, slobbering half-pint half-wit and his equally wacko mother who run a sex slavery ring out of their attic. Gore fans will find nothing to hold their interest, but the overbearingly filthy atmosphere and sadism successfully supplants spurting blood and severed limbs. A few well done sequences are undone by graphic sex scenes that plummet the film further into the abyss of gloriously reprehensible cinema trash. The trollish Torben and the absolutely gorgeous Ann Sparrow are the main attractions here. Sadly, this was Sparrow's first and last film and Torben didn't go on to do a string of mini-madman movies. You'll feel ashamed for watching it, so take a shower afterward.

A struggling writer and his new bride decide to stay in a cheap boardinghouse till they can afford a new home -- so they settle on a place no sane person would deem a suitable dwelling. Run by a drunken, scarred mother and her demented midget son, the newlyweds are oblivious that the crumbling flophouse they opt for covertly moonlights as a sex slave ring hidden away in the attic. Using kidnapped young girls doped up on heroin, the diabolical duo quickly set their sights on the writers beautiful wife. 

There really isn't much to say about this grotesque early 70s trash. There's virtually no plot to speak of. The movie tends to repeat itself multiple times over in lazy photographic fashion -- Olaf leads a customer upstairs to pick a girl where overlong sex scenes take place on dirty, soiled mattresses; Mary expresses dislike of the house they're rooming in; Olaf's inebriated mother, whose face is caked in makeup, sings and dances; Olaf shakes and giggles -- stir and repeat. 

The films life's blood is built around a string of aforementioned sex scenes that may or may not be simulated. And since the performers throw themselves into these moments, these passionate scenes of porking end up being better acted than anything else in the movie. Although the walking meatloaf that is Olaf is an eyeball popping showstopper.

A subplot involving a local shop owner nicknamed Santa Claus doesn't go anywhere. His only function being to provide the evil dwarf and his mother with the heroin used to dope up the kidnapped girls. The drugs are stuffed inside of teddy bears. This introduces a crime element that doesn't enhance the sleaze quotient. If anything it feels like padding -- much like the lengthy pseudo porn segments.

Raski's movie was not only a career killer for him, but also for many of the films performers. Easily the most unfortunate of these is Anne Sparrow; the shapely, well endowed wife of Peter, the writer. Outside of the miniscule lunacy of Torben Bille, Sparrow is the only other thing about the movie worth watching -- and that's based solely on her physical attributes.

The one genuinely good thing in Raski's movie is the fleeting BABY JANEsque exposition granted the psycho-sexual midgets mother, Lila Lash. Formerly some sort of showgirl, or Burlesque dancer, she now lives out her miserable existence as an alcoholic -- running a seedy bed and breakfast doubling as a whorehouse. The scars on her face speak of some detrimental act of violence that may have led to her decline, but we never learn much more beyond the peripheral. 

The music, if you can call it that, occasionally has an artistic flourish such as a cue or two that mimics Olaf's obsession with wind up toys. Otherwise it's just noise utilized to add to the tasteless nature of the movie.

Shot in what appears to be sync sound, and in English, the cast is made up of Danish and English performers.

The title sinner, Torben Bille, apparently did double duties both as the lead heavy and as a set decorator of all things. He's not onscreen as much as you'd expect, but when he is, it's difficult to take your eyes off of him. Bille hobbles and skulks around the limited set smiling and slobbering with psychotic glee while his eyeballs repeatedly threaten to fall out of his head. Just hearing him speak his lines is enough for even the most intellectually challenged to get the hell out of the ramshackle shithouse. Bille is amazing to watch, nonetheless. For whatever reason, he never made a series of psycho pygmy pictures afterward.

This minor 70s effort is a film of limited appeal. There are better movies out there about, and or featuring killer dwarfs, but only a few others that are as offensive and tasteless as this one. The trailer down to the films title never sells you more than you get -- which isn't much. And with nearly the entire movie taking place inside the dilapidated fleapit lodge, THE SINFUL DWARF could easily be turned into a stage play. I bet it would have sold an enormous amount of tickets on the grand guignol circuit back in the day.

This review is representative of the Severin DVD.

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