Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Virgin Viewings: Repulsion Now, Repentance Later

The Sinful Dwarf (1973)
(aka. Dvaergen)
directed by: Vidal Raski
written by: Harlan Asquith

It's the most disgusting movie Viggo Mortensen has ever seen. That deserves credit for something, at the very least a DVD pull quote. If we're to believe the marketing by Severin films, who've done noble work in bringing this Dwarfsploitation from Denmark "classic" to American shores, this tale of a scandalously small - and yes, sinful - manchild is worth our curiosity. The Sinful Dwarf is the type of exploitation trash long since left to the sticky floors of 42nd Street cinemas and prints cut with bonus hardcore penetration shots. Not that we need to get all nostalgic about grimy stories of rape and the white slave trade, but there's a teary-eyed charm to the absolute smut peddled here and in kin like Thriller: A Cruel Picture, or something as visually vomitous (but far less wondrous) as the early works of Herschell Gordon Lewis and John Waters.

The opening scene is justifiably classic. Our dastardly dwarf himself, Olaf, rounds the corner to see a twenty-something woman playing hopscotch by herself in the street. Olaf hobbles closer and sets down his toy pooch. Awkwardly entranced, the woman persists to pet the toy dog as if an actual pulse existed in place of its Duracell battery. Olaf easily lures the woman away to his home where he has "more toys... upstairs!" Still fascinated by the dog and still petting it furiously, Olaf leads her into his attic with the rest of his prostitutes, injects her with heroin, and sets out looking for a respectable john.

Torben Bille, who plays the small in stature and big in fucked up Olaf, was a children's TV host before and after making the film, even with his mad, bulbous eyes and devil grin that would scare most adults. It's especially shocking to consider this once you've just witnessed Olaf shoving needles into slave prostitutes in his attic/hotel/brothel with the heroin he smuggles via teddy bears from a man named Santa at the "Santa Claus Toy Store." Even moreso once we've watched Olaf lash his girls for the pleasure of his drunken madame of a mother, who is inspired to sing showtunes. But most of all after having seen Olaf violate women with his walking cane with the same joy elicited toward his wind-up toys.

It's sick, disturbed, but not entirely shocking. The boredom during long stretches numbs any glimmers of horror, as does the unintended comic relief found in the drug-addled "performances," drunken ramblings, screeching musical numbers, and sinfully innocuous screaming. It's directed without a shred of good taste, and that includes its pace and editing. It might appear of the same scuzzy serendipity of John Waters, but it lacks any of the knowing wit and genius. With its mind in the gutter, it may as well have been filmed in one, amidst all the used needles, condoms and soiled mattresses. And yet I recommend The Sinful Dwarf to the very small audience who, like me, thinks that repellent description has its merits. For those few sinful persons, I say watch it now and atone for it later. If it's bad enough for Viggo Mortensen, it's good enough for me.

Mausoleum (1983)
directed by: Michael Dugan
written by: Robert Barich, Robert Madero

Susan Farrell is afflicted with the Nomed family curse ("Nilbog is goblin spelled backwards!") in which only a mythical crown of thorns can stop her impending demonic possession - which includes acts of levitation, gardening utensil mutilation, exploding heads, and mall theft.

If The Exorcist's possessed Regan were once a Playboy playmate, dressed like a character from Dynasty, had breasts that resembled oozing demon heads, shoplifted mall art, and still danced to disco in the mid-80's - you'd have something similar to Mausoleum. Susan, played by the busty Bobbie Bresee, is supposed to be thirty but appears to be of her buxom mid-forties, Marjoe Gortner as the hubby is as bland as his name is ridiculous, and the rest of the film is as shoddy and spectacular as one could ever hope from an obscure horror title like this one.

There are so many unexpected and embarrassing charms here. Like when the "great googly moogly" maid, Elsie (LaWanda Page of Sanford & Son), takes racism to wonderful comic highs and depressing minstrel show lows. She says thinks like, "No mo' grievin', I'm leavin'!" and, "There's some strange shit goin' on in here..." followed by a music cue that would have been baffling and shameful decades earlier. Then there's Susan's gardener who takes her suggestive cues as a means to go nap and do yardwork, before returning hours later to make his illicit advances. Nonsense. Inexplicable, magnificent nonsense.

Mausoleum is what happens when a filmmaker attempts to cash in on a popular premise (demonic possession) years beyond its popularity, and decides to up the ante with nudity and gore effects - both of which are laughable, cheap and unappealing. Still, there's something majestic in its audacity and willingness to go absolutely anywhere/nowhere with its tawdry tale of slutty telekinetic socialites. Its terrible qualities are far more seductive to me than its leading lady, and the film possesses far more cringe-induced laughs than it does busty blondes. Artistic merits be damned, Mausoleum is bad movie heaven.


JA said...

I was just talking about The Sinful Dwarf last night! Random! I've had a copy for ages and tried to watch it and got so skeeved out I had to turn it off. I've been contemplating a retry though.

Adam said...

I hesitate to push you toward a retry, unless you're killing time whilst strung out and stuck in an attic somewhere. At the same time, I do feel obligated to champion anything this reprehensible. Olaf is pure, non-PC nightmare material.

But I'm keen to check out "Blood Spattered Bride" after seeing it on your site, and I'm anxiously awaiting your single!