The Sinful Dwarf

by Donato Totaro November 1, 2010 2 minutes (374 words)

This is not exactly what I had imagined. Expecting something along the lines of ‘dwarfexploitation’, instead The Sinful Dwarf is a fairly raunchy, seedy (in the good 1970s grind house sense) Fassbinder-esque story of an ex-showgirl and her adult dwarf son that run a boarding house that covers for a white slavery prostitution ring. Orlaf the dwarf (played by Danish actor Torben Bille) kidnaps the women, who are then kept nude, chained, drugged and imprisoned in a room to function as sex slaves. And there is plenty of sex on hand, most of it non-consensual as the sex slaves are kept perennially stoned, making most of the sex appear as rapes. The film opens with a twisted fairy tale scene where Olaf lures a young woman dressed in all-white into his home and then smashes her in the head with his cane while she is caressing his animated toy poodle. This establishes an odd parallel between Olaf and his stuffed, battery operated toy animals that is taken to symbolic levels in the film’s violent conclusion. A film which oozes Post-War decadence in its setting, locations, art direction; the mother, Mary (Ann Sparrow), who speaks with a German accent, lives in the past a la Norma Desmond. Watching it brought to mind Peter’s Walker House of Whipchord, made a year later (an influence?), and the far crasser and unappealing Bloodsucking Freaks (Joel M. Reed, 1976). Interesting soundtrack that blends heightened natural sounds, Jethro Tull-like rock music, and ambient experimental music and sounds.

Severin’s relatively damage free transfer is remarkable for a film of this vintage, perfectly rendering the earthy, muted interiors, and properly presented in a full-frame aspect ratio. Special features include the theatrical trailer and two radio spots, plus a short feature entitled “The Severin Controversy” which must be seen to be believed (or not believed is more apt). If we take it at face value, we are to believe that two seasoned horror fans became so emotionally and psychologically scarred by this film that they want to prevent the film’s release on DVD. If these two guys are not staged, I’ll eat my shots! The featurette can be viewed on the Severin Film website, under the April 30, 2008 ‘news’ entry.

<i>The Sinful Dwarf</i>

Donato Totaro has been the editor of the online film journal Offscreen since its inception in 1997. Totaro received his PhD in Film & Television from the University of Warwick (UK), is a part-time professor in Film Studies at Concordia University (Montreal, Canada) and a longstanding member of AQCC (Association québécoise des critiques de cinéma).

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