The Sinful Dwarf: Eurosleaziest

The Sinful Dwarf directed by Vidal Raski horror movie reviewsThe Sinful Dwarf directed by Vidal RaskiThe Sinful Dwarf directed by Vidal Raski

Film buffs who are curious as to what the whole Eurosleaze genre is all about could not find a better exemplar than The Sinful Dwarf. A 1973 picture from Denmark, of all places, the film conflates soft-core porn elements, deformed characters, scenes of ultracamp, and considerable doses of drugs and depravity into one of the sleaziest confections any viewer could possibly hope for.

In this truly one-of-a-kind outing, the viewer meets Lila Lash, a drunken, scar-faced ex-entertainer (played by Clara Keller), who, with her grotesque dwarf son, Olaf (the remarkable Torben Bille), runs a boardinghouse in what we must infer is London. The Lashes’ main source of income, however, comes from somewhere else. Olaf, using windup toys as an enticement (I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried!), lures young women back to the house, where they are knocked out, locked in the attic, shot up with smack, and turned into desperately addicted sex toys for the paying perverts who drop by. Into this sordid den comes a newly married couple, Peter and Mary Davis (played by Tom Eades and Anne Sparrow). Mary, a pretty blonde who looks quite smashing when going braless in a tight white turtleneck, soon grows suspicious of the strange noises and goings-on in the household, and goes into Nancy Drew mode … but not before Lila decides that the stunning bird would make a fine addition to her doped-up harem upstairs…

Though hardly anyone’s idea of a good picture, The Sinful Dwarf yet boasts any number of selling points. The film is surprisingly well directed by Vidal Raski (his only film, apparently), and features some of the loopiest opening credits you’ll ever find, with oddball percussion music and images of those darn windup toys. The film is trash, of course, but not total garbage, and manages to generate some real suspense as Mary comes closer to discovering the house’s secret. And the acting in the picture, down to the smallest bit role, is also surprisingly decent, especially that of Sparrow and Torben Bille. It is almost impossible to imagine the little person as a participant in a Danish TV children’s show, as he supposedly was; he is so convincingly insane, wicked and demented here, sporting an accent unlike any you’ve ever heard. OK, maybe he’s not really a good actor, but he sure is memorably effective and creepy, and the viewer waits eagerly for the little bastid to get his just deserts.

The Sinful Dwarf directed by Vidal RaskiThe film’s eerie electronic score and bizarre background ululations, coupled with some convincingly scuzzy set design, go far in creating a very discomforting atmosphere for the picture, as well. And as a camp highlight, just wait until you see the drunken Lila Lash (whose name really SHOULD be Lila Lush or Lila Gash) perform her song and dance numbers for her equally besotted friend Winnie (Gerda Madsen). In one number, which outcamps Bette Davis’ Jane Hudson warbling “I’ve Written a Letter to Daddy” in the 1962 classic What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Lila puts on her Carmen Miranda wardrobe to do the “Cho-Cho Bamba.” During another number, Lila dresses up like Marlene Dietrich to sing “The Game of Love,” the camera in close-up on her scarred puss while the action alternates with one of the sex slaves being whipped by a sadistic customer upstairs; arguably, one of the sickest segments in the Eurosleaze genre.

To the film’s detriment, however, a plot twist that arises roughly 3/4 of the way in is way too dependent on the wildest of coincidences, and the sex scenes in the film, unsurprisingly, are completely UNerotic (with the exception, perhaps, of a brief interlude that the Davises share). Perhaps Brian Lindsey, writing for Eccentric Cinema, put it best when he described watching The Sinful Dwarf as the “equivalent of having to take a dump in the scuzziest public toilet imaginable”! Olaf’s numerous sins during the course of the picture can be listed as enslavement, assault and battery, pimping, drug trafficking, addicting, voyeurism, rape, and murder, so at least the film sports an honest title!

As to this DVD itself, from the fine folks at Severin, it boasts a very decent-looking print, as well as an absolutely hilarious extra, in which two viewers beg company president John Severin to pull this title from its roster, due to the permanent emotional damage that The Sinful Dwarf has caused them. Come to think of it, newcomers to the Eurosleaze genre may want to proceed with caution here!


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SANDY FERBER, on our staff since April 2014 (but hanging around here since November 2012), is a resident of Queens, New York and a product of that borough's finest institution of higher learning, Queens College. After a "misspent youth" of steady and incessant doses of Conan the Barbarian, Doc Savage and any and all forms of fantasy and sci-fi literature, Sandy has changed little in the four decades since. His favorite author these days is H. Rider Haggard, with whom he feels a strange kinship -- although Sandy is not English or a manored gentleman of the 19th century -- and his favorite reading matter consists of sci-fi, fantasy and horror... but of the period 1850-1960. Sandy is also a devoted buff of classic Hollywood and foreign films, and has reviewed extensively on the IMDb under the handle "ferbs54." Film Forum in Greenwich Village, indeed, is his second home, and Sandy at this time serves as the assistant vice president of the Louie Dumbrowski Fan Club....

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6 comments

  1. And this is why I never watch movies with Sandy.

    • Sandy Ferber /

      I take it, then, Kat, that I WON’T be seeing you at Greenwich Village’s Film Forum tomorrow afternoon for THIS little number? https://filmforum.org/film/night-of-the-living-dead-film

      • Not a chance, Sandy. :)
        Have fun without me!

        • Sandy Ferber /

          Why, Kat, I’m surprised at you! “Night of the Living Dead” is an acknowledged classic; one of the finest horror films of the last half century; a Janus Film taken from a Museum of Modern Art print! How Duane Jones and Judith O’Dea failed to get Oscar nods for their work in it is beyond me. I’m serious!

  2. “Though hardly anyone’s idea of a good picture, The Sinful Dwarf yet boasts any number of selling points.”

    You crack me up.

    And I will not be watching this. Ever.

    • Sandy Ferber /

      You will be excused for taking a pass on this one, Marion. It is hardly essential viewing….

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