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DVD Review: The Sinful Dwarf (Severin Films release)

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Quite possibly the sleaziest exploitation flick to have ever emerged from Denmark, The Sinful Dwarf makes its way to the mainstream market courtesy of Severin Films. As one might expect, such a release did not come without its share of controversy. In this politically correct era, the word “dwarf” has been replaced with “little person” (or whatever they say now). But, there is absolutely nothing that anyone could do to make The Sinful Dwarf kosher.

To say that the movie has a plot would only be selling yourself short (no pun intended). A demented mother and son (the titular character, played by the late diminutive actor, Torben Bille) abduct young girls from the street and chain them up in the attic of their boarding house, injecting them with heroin and allowing “patrons” to come in and rape them. Mary and Peter, a newlywed British couple arrive to stay for a while, but the bride is a bit apprehensive about the weirdoes downstairs—not to mention the peculiar sounds emitting from the room across the hall and the strange men who occasionally emerge from it. Naturally, instead of leaving and fetching the police, the bride stays at the house and snoops about upstairs.

The white slavers’ heroin hookup is man referred to as “Santa Claus” (played by Danish actor Walter Hedman), which he supplies stashed in the creepy toys the dwarf plays with. He also happens to be the Peter’s boss. One day, sending his employee away to Paris, the fiends at the boarding house abduct poor Mary and chain her up with the other girls. Will Mary survive the aberrant antics or The Sinful Dwarf? Will Peter discover what’s going on—or at least think to call the police in time? Will you, the viewer, actually make it through this entire 92-minute sleazefest without losing your delicate grip on reality?

Er, probably not.

The source material Severin Films used (which they jokingly refer to as being “discovered hidden in a janitor’s closet at the Danish Film Institute”) is the same grainy, washed-out 35mm full frame print that exploitation distributor Harry Novak released in the early '70s. Of course, the awful film quality only adds to the morbid “magnetism” that the film holds for some people. The movie was shot with many of the actors speaking English (or at least attempting to). The mono stereo audio comes through remarkably well—perhaps too well when you stop and consider what it is you’re watching. No subtitles are included, but you won’t need ‘em anyway.

A couple of special features round up the festivity of decadence, beginning with a hilarious ten-minute featurette in which Severin Films owner John Severin interviews two tortured souls who made the mistake of watching The Sinful Dwarf once when they were drunk and high (you may have seen this on YouTube—if not, here it is for keeps). Neither John Dols nor his pal Dan Tyler have ever recovered from this experience, and in this interview, they plead with potential viewers to stay away from the movie at all costs. A trailer (under the alternate American title, Abducted Bride) and two radio spots round out the extras.

If one version of The Sinful Dwarf wasn’t enough for you, you’ll be pleased to know that there is also an edition containing some hardcore sex scenes (which mostly consists of close-up inserts with different actors from what I‘ve heard) from the Private Screenings label. Alas, either way you choose, you cannot win: The Sinful Dwarf is guaranteed to leave its depraved mark on you regardless (it‘s even more disturbing when you take into account that Torben Bille was the host of a kids program in Denmark). Enjoy.

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About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.