Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Dværgen (1973)

...aka: Sinful Dwarf, The
...aka: Teenage Bride

Directed by:
Vidal Raski

His leering, penetrative, beady little eyes... His infectuous cackle... His mischievous grin... His lovable shaggy hair... His ingenuous use of a cane... It could only be The Sinister Dwarf! After flopping in Europe (it was banned in Sweden and failed to do much business in Denmark), this extremely sleazy little exploitation gem was picked up for distribution in the U.S. by Harry Novak's Box Office International. It was blasted by critics, slapped with a (pretty well-deserved) X rating and failed to do much business here either, or in Canada for that matter (where it was released as TEENAGE BRIDE), and quickly sank into obscurity. But there's a happy ending to the tale of our perverted mini cult hero and his whacked-out mama, as several recent DVD releases (including a restored 2009 issue from Severin) have remedied the obscurity bit and the film has gone on to a decent cult following. Does it deserve one? Sure. It's depraved, ugly, tastless and scuzzy, it's full of sick humor and absolutely loaded with gratuitous full nudity. True grindhouse cinema.

A creepy, voyeuristic dwarf named Olaf (Torben Bille) uses one of those battery-operated toy puppies to lure a pigtailed girl into an old building and then clubs her over the head with his cane. What's to become of the poor lass? You'll just have to wait and find out! First, we get some great opening credits featuring various animated toys and puppets (penguin, giraffe, cymbal-playing monkey, etc.) dancing to tinny-sounding music. And then a young, financially-strapped couple; struggling, unemployed writer Peter Davis (Tony Eades) and his blonde, unemployed wife Mary (Anne Sparrow), are forced to take residence in a seedy old apartment house run by Lila Lash (Clara Keller), an abusive, alcoholic, facially-scarred lesbian ex-nightclub performer. Lila's son? Olaf, of course! The duo supplement their income by kidnapping teenage girls, keeping them prisoner in the attic, turning them into heroine junkies and then pimping them out to a steady stream of customers who don't ask too many questions. Well actually, they don't ask any questions. Lila likes to subject her prisoners, as well as her booze-swilling lady friend Winnie (Gerda Madsen), to various campy musical numbers with a Bette Davis circa Baby Jane flair. She even whips the naked upstairs captives while she sings. Olaf watches the new tenants have sex through peepholes and a toy company called "Santa's Workshop" is run by a guy named Santa Claus (Werner Hedman) and supplies Lila with all the drugs she needs to keep her girls in check.

After Peter lands a job as a salesman (at "Santa's Workshop") and has to be out of town for 3 or 4 days, Mary decides to check out the mysterious and off-limits attic. That's when Lila decides this would be the perfect opportunity to draft Mrs. Snoopy Pants into the family trade to replace one of her other girls, all of whom are either hopelessly strung out or insane. When Peter returns, he finds a typed Dear John note from his wife; little realizing she's already locked away in the attic getting ready to take a heroine shot to the ass so she can entertain clientel. Will he be able to put two and two together before it's too late?

It all looks extremely cheap (which actually just enhances the experience), was filmed in London with Danish and American backers and has a British and Danish cast all speaking English. The director is a man by the name of Vidal Raski, who has no other credits to his name. It wouldn't surprise me one bit if Raski was actually co-star Hedman, a Danish porno director. Many of the same actors here (including Torben) had worked on his other adult features throughout the 70s, so it's definitely a possibility this film is another of his and he doesn't want to take credit for it. The amount of on-screen sex and nudity is very high. There are four lengthy sex scenes and they're all about as graphic as soft-core gets. Some sources claim that Torben was a children's show host before he took the role in this film, though I can find no real proof of that claim and it may have just been a publicity rumor. Either way, he gives a memorable performance here, as does Keller as his mother. The acting as a whole isn't nearly as bad as one might expect. The older actress who plays the mom's friend had also appeared in the silent horror classic HAXAN way back in 1921!


1 comment:

CavedogRob said...

I have to check this one out!

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