After I finished wading through the muck-laden universe of The Sinful Dwarf, the diseased crumpet of naughty dwarf movies, I debated long and hard, then hard and long–you know, just to be safe–whether or not I should pretend to feign outrage over what I saw transpire in this filthy slab of uncouth depravity. And, after much soul searching, followed by, of course, some moderate contemplative discourse, I've come to the conclusion that it would be unwise to fabricate any feelings of indignation toward this film. It's true, my moral centre would love to join the concourse lined up to heap tons of well thought out scorn on this sick and twisted film, but my true self, the self that lurks in the shadows wearing nothing but a pair of black leather shorts and a studded dog collar, can only think of positive things to say about Vidal Raski's unsavoury ode to sexual slavery, wind-up toys, and forced heroin abuse. While most people say they felt the need to cleanse themselves after watching the unhinged goings on at the world's most depraved rooming-house, I, on the other hand, actually felt as if I had just taken a carefree bath in a giant vat of putrid saliva. I know, that doesn't sound like anybody's idea of a pleasant experience, even a self-proclaimed amateur deviant with a healthy love for ladies apparel would think twice before jumping in a bath like that. But just to let you know, contaminated drool does wonders for the hundreds of sebaceous cysts that litter my back. Anyway, enough about the dermatological nightmare that is my disgusting organic structure, to put it bluntly: I loved the unholy pus out of this film.
Taking place almost entirely in a rundown rooming-house, one that apparently used to be a popular nightclub, Olaf the Dwarf (the charismatic Torben Bille), may be sinful, but it's his mother, the enchanting Lila Lash (Clara Keller), who's the brains behind their frightfully wicked business venture. Of course, "The Sinful Woman" isn't as catchy as "The Sinful Dwarf," but make no mistake, Miss Lash is the one who keeps their unrighteous operation up and running. Similar to Carroll Baker's character in Andy Warhol's Bad, in that, she runs her semi-lucrative enterprise from home and seems to have no qualms about facilitating the atrocities committed by others, Lila spends most of her time, to quote Soft Cell's "Sex Dwarf" (one of my favourite songs of all-time), luring disco dollies to a life of vice.
How does she lure these disco dollies exactly? Duh, how do you think? She sends out her son Olaf, a person of below average size who walks with the aide of a cane, to comb the streets and beckon the young women he finds with wind-up toys (he is rarely ever seen without a toy in his hand). In the film's opening scene, Olaf manages to do exactly that when he entices a young brunette woman (though, she could have been a girl, she was, after all, playing hop scotch when Olaf shows up) with the help a wind-up little dog. Telling her that he's got more toys upstairs, Olaf is able to get her up to the attic, a place where he can safely hit her on the head with his cane without having to worry about shifty-eyed gawkers.
After she wakes up she is no longer "girl playing hop scotch," she is now, "sex-slave in attic." In the 1970s, everyone was literally five minutes away from becoming a sex-slave. How do I know this? Well, even though my memory of the mustache-friendly decade is a tad on the sketchy side, I do recall there being a general sense of unease in the air. And if you were to ask anyone who was alive during the 1970s what they they feared the most, I have a strong feeling that being chained to a wall, striped naked, injected with heroin, and forced to have dehumanizing sexual intercourse with scrawny men in brown slacks would have been near the top of the list.
Of course, once Lila and Olaf have gotten you sufficiently hooked on heroin, the need for you to be chained to the wall is completely unnecessary, as your desire to leave has been usurped by your addiction to heroin. Unfortunately, you'll be on the receiving end of wave after wave of strange, and probably uncircumcised, cock periodically throughout the day. Why so glum? Wait a minute, you didn't think you they were gonna let you hang out on a dingy mattress, your veins coursing with sweet diacetylmorphine, in their attic for free, did you? Oh, you naive little twit.
While I don't deny the intrinsic allure of Olaf and his vast collection of wind-up toys (a collection we see firsthand during the film's nightmarish opening credits sequence), I do, however, doubt that he would be able to wrangle that many women for their repugnant cause, at least not enough to keep their shady clientele knee deep in drug-addled sex-slaves for weeks on end (the average of lifespan of an attic-bound sex-slave is around ten days). The other way for Lila and Olaf to fill the ranks is to ensnare their dainty prey through their rooming-house, the legitimate business they run that is literally just down the hall from their illicit sex attic.
A husband and wife duo named Peter (Tony Eades) and Mary (Anne Sparrow) are just what Lila and Olaf have been waiting for when the young couple show up looking for a room one night. Uninterested in Peter–they strictly provide copulatory satisfaction for discerning heterosexual men–Lila and Olaf seem extra determined to turn to Mary, a well-proportioned blonde, into a sex-slave. In fact, I could tell Olaf wanted to slather his cane up and down the bumpy curves that dot Mary's exquisite corpse the moment he laid his beady eyes on her. You can't blame them for wanting to add Mary to their roster; if I happened to own and operate a sex den out of my attic, I'd want someone like Mary to be the poster girl for my objectionable operation.
Whether it's his lack of height or the devilish grin who always seems to wearing on his face, Mary is aghast by what she sees as Olaf shows them their room. The turning point in Mary's mind probably came when Olaf started jumping up and down on their bed while declaring: "You see, it's a nice soft bed!" Anyway, as unpleasant as that may sound, Peter and Mary are too tired to worry about socially maladjusted dwarfs and decide to go to bed. Prior to sleeping, Peter removes Mary's nightie and proceeds to treat her body with the respect it deserves. "Let me see you, let me feel you," he says to her as she thrusts herself against his sort of manly frame (her spectacular ass dances in the moonlight as she thrusts). While it's safe to say that Peter's overall appreciation for Mary's flawless body reeked of sanity, the same can't be said for Olaf, who is currently watching them as they perform the missionary position through a hole in the wall. Oh, sure, his appreciation comes from a similar place, but there's definitely something sinister brewing inside his warped brain.
After he's done watching Mary's creviced infrastructure extract a dollop of semen from her husband's understandably erect penis, Olaf heads to the attic with his crooked syringe. The moans coming from the other side of the elaborately locked door in the attic are being made by the three naked women Lila and Olaf have imprisoned in there. They want heroin, and Olaf is in charge of giving it to them. It's obvious that Olaf gets a perverse thrill out of withholding drugs from the sex-slaves. He relishes the fact that they need him, and the repeated line: "I'm coming," is his way of prolonging their agony. In the end, he only injects one of them with a dose (he's been instructed to only give to most strung out a hit).
The next morning, Peter heads out to look for work (he's a writer, a.k.a. perennially unemployed), while Mary takes her time putting on a tight, cream-coloured, bellybutton revealing turtleneck sweater (her navel playfully peeks out with every gesture). Being an Englishwoman, Mary has a natural curiosity about the world around her. This desire to learn leads her to investigate the strange noises that have been emanating from down the hall. Along with her aforementioned turtleneck sweater, a pair of knee-high black boots, and blue jeans (which have been rolled up to help emphasize the length of her black boots), Mary prepares to enter the cobweb-infested confines of the attic. Even though her investigation is cut short by Olaf (the sound of his distinctive foot steps on the stairs causes her to abort her snooping mid-snoop), Mary is determined to find out what is exactly going on in this place.
"You know what to do, just the ring the bell when you are finished," those are Olaf's last words to his customers before he locks them in with the sex-slave junkies. How, you're wondering, do they decide which sex-slave they want to fornicate with? It's hard to say, but they do seem to gravitate toward the ones who seem the least strung out. At any rate, no matter who they end up picking, the performances by the three actresses who the play the sex-slaves were outstanding. Now, it's hard to pinpoint who's who, since their characters don't have names and are only credited as "sex-slave in attic," but Jeanette Marsden, Lisbeth Olsen, and Jane Cutter should all be commended for their realistic portrayals of young women who are forced to endure a litany of horrors.
It's a clear sign, well, from where I was sitting anyway, that you're doing something right if the two songs you belt out in a movie remind me of Marlene Dietrich and Susan Tyrrell (Forbidden Zone). Performing "Cho-Cho Bamba" (fruit hat) "The Game of Love"(top hat), with Olaf on piano, for the amusement of her drunk friend Winnie (Gerda Madsen), Clara Keller's work as Lila Lash, the sexiest alcoholic former nightclub singer turned landlady/pimp with a prominent scar on her face to ever grace the surface of this greenish-blue space ball thingy, is the stuff of camp legend.
The scene that shows Peter walking down street in his lame raincoat was probably film's most jarring. Huh? Let me explain. It's first time we're taken away from the rooming-house, and since the film does such a terrific job of creating a fully lived in universe, we've slowly acclimatized ourselves to its seedy charms. The sight of naked junkies being whipped, giggling little people injecting naked junkies with heroin, and naked junkies being sexually assaulted have become commonplace. Take us away from this world, plop us into one where these things don't occur on a regular basis, and we'll find ourselves struggling adjust to life on the outside.
You better savour Anne Sparrow's stellar turn as the inquisitive Mary, because this exercise in bantam lasciviousness was not only the first film she ever appeared in, it was, sadly, the last. As per usual, I don't want to come off as creepy or deranged, but I savoured Anne Sparrow's corporeal existence in The Sinful Dwarf to the point of fetishistic madness. Drinking in her gorgeousness at every turn, Miss Sparrow oozed sex appeal like it were a bodily function. Giving one of the most animated eyeball performances in film history, Anne utilizes her eyes in a manner that left very little doubt as to what kind of emotions her character was trying to convey at any given moment. Whether darting back and forth in a frenzy in response to a loud toy train she couldn't switch off, or displaying an acute sharpness while watching the aloft legs of a jaded brunette sex-slave convulse as the result of her trick's hearty orgasm, Anne Sparrow's eyes are never complacent.
At the start of the film, Mary's blonde locks were so resilient, so full of life. But the as the film progressed they became limp and unmanageable. Was I disturbed by her hair's gradual lack of follicle viscosity? You better believe I was. However, if you think about it, Mary's hairdo decline could be seen as a metaphor for her steady descent into madness, or, and this is probably the more likely scenario, they [the producers] couldn't afford to pay the film's hairdresser anymore, so, he or she bolted, leaving Anne Sparrow's hair in the wilted state it was in by the time her character's fragile psyche started to crack.
The curvy lingerie model named Dorothy who lives in my gastrointestinal tract was growing impatient over the fact that Mary was taking so long in becoming a heroin-addicted sex-slave. And I'll admit, part of me was as well. It's not that I wanted to see her degraded and abused, it's just that for the film's plot to move forward, Mary has got to get her shapely ass on the other side of that curtain-covered door. I mean, there are only so many times one can watch Mary bump into that taxidermy bird of prey hanging in the attic. And like everyone in this world, it's only a matter of time before we eventually find ourselves naked, shackled, and occasionally poked by a sinful dwarf.